Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” in COVID-19 days

Reading Question for A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Amazon $.99 purchase option: A Room of One’s Own: – Kindle Edition

Google Play $.99 purchase option: A Room of One’s Own

As always, consider reading the questions BEFORE you do the reading for the question set. That will make your reading easier because you’ll know for what you are looking. There will be spoilers if you do it that way though, so pick your poison.

Keep your phone handy while you read and ask it to define words as you go along. Siri or OK Google should end your need to skip over the meaning of words you don’t know.

Remember that you can use the search function of electronic texts to find particular quotes or sections.

Always provide DETAILS or QUOTES to support any answer you give. Tell me all that you know, not just the first and easiest thing that pops to mind.

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Question set 1 (chapters 1 and 2)

Chapter 1 questions:

1. Using zoterobib (or any other method) create a proper Chicago-style citation for the book to which you had access.

2. This essay begins with a second-person address to the reader. This is odd because the book was published in 1929 and she doesn’t know you. So who is the “you” to whom she addresses the essay? Explain with a quote as evidence.

3. Quote Woolf’s thesis statement from the first paragraph.

4. In the first paragraph, Woolf addresses the issue of “sourcing” (in the AP sense) her document directly. What does she say her readers should consider about her writing? (Couture sourcing video)

5. How does the Oxbridge treat Ms. Woolf when she visits the campus?

6. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. What war is Woolf talking about here, and how does she see it as having changed European culture? Provide a quote other than the one selected to back up your point.

A Room 1.1 war on poetry

7. In what ways is the Women’s college of Fernham different from Oxbridge? Why is this so?

8. What is Woolf’s explanation for why women are unable to get their act together and fund women’s colleges and women’s issues?

9. What is the purpose of the single footnote in this chapter? Why does Woolf include it?

Chapter 2 questions:

10. What topic or topics does Woolf propose to tackle in this chapter? (a quote is fine)

11. What is Woolf’s explanation of why men consider themselves qualified to analyze and write about women? What is the modern jokey term for this habit?

12. Do you think that Woolf’s 1929 assertion that “women do not write books about men” is still true? Explain/evidence.

13. Woolf writes of women that, “Mussolini despises them.” If this book had been written in 1935 instead of 1929, whom would Woolf likely have mentioned instead of Mussolini?

14. When Woolf uses the word “faggot,” what is she trying to say?

15. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. In 1929 Woolf thought any intelligent observers could plainly see that men ran everything. Is that still true today in 2020, 91 years later? Support your opinion with some evidence.

A Room 2.1 patriarchy

16. What is Woolf’s explanation for why rich people and men are angry at poor people and women, respectively? Do you think her logic is correct?

17. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. In simple words, what is Woolf’s point here? Do you agree with her? Explain.

A Room 2.2 collective blam

18. At the end of chapter 2, Woolf makes some strong predictions? What are they basically, in a nutshell? Did her predictions come true?

19. Like most first-wave feminists, Woolf sees sex and class issues quite clearly. She is, however, silent about ethnicity (race). Why do you think that is? Do you think the logic of wealthy male anger towards poor people and women could and should also be directed at herself on the issue of ethnicity? She is after all a wealthy white person, a citizen of the British Empire. Does this undermine her argument?

 

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Question set 2 (chapters 3 and 4)

Chapter 3 questions:

1. What is Woolf’s point when she calls women in literature (history and poetry/fiction), “a worm winged like an eagle”?

2. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. As you have studied history so far, does Woolf’s description of how women show up in the story you learned you history classes still ring true? Have historians gotten any better at telling the history of women? Does it even matter, since only recently have women become important?

A Room 3.2 women history

3. What are the overall points of Woolf’s tale of the imaginary Judith Shakespeare?

4. Explain Woolf’s argument about working and lower-class female authors being insane or being labeled as witches.

5. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. Is that sentence racist? Explain.

A Room 3.1 negress

Chapter 4 questions:

6. Do you think that Woolf is correct that the rise of middle class female authors is an historical event of importance equal to that of the Crusades? Explain.

7. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. This section was actually why this book popped into my mind. A lot of people here during COVID-19 have no quite room with a computer in which to work. Back in 1929 almost no women had such a room. Does having a room really matter that much for productivity? Explain.

A Room 4.2 sitting room

8. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. Are masculine values still as dominant in culture as they were when Woolf was writing? Evidence?

A Room 4.1 hegemony

9. Do you think there is some natural difference between the style of writing of men and women, as Woolf proposes near the end of chapter 4?

 

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Question set 3 (chapters 5, 6, and overall)

Chapter 5 questions:

1. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. When Woolf wrote, women had not been “graded” and “measured.” Do you think that is still true? Have women now passed those tests that Woolf describes or to which she alludes?

A Room 5.1 grading women

2. Sticking with the last quote – Woolf notes that there is no way to measure the quality of “women’s work,” such as being a good wife, mother, or sister. Is that still true? Does modern society care enough to measure these things and give women credit for them?

3. Woolf claims that women naturally write differently from men. Do you agree with her? Can you usually tell when something is written by a man or a woman (or a person of another gender)? Do you think these viewpoints matter?

Chapter 6 questions:

4. At the beginning of chapter six, Woolf notes that basically no one in 1928 cared about Shakespeare or the future of fiction. Do you think that Woolf’s subject matters? Does the role of women in literature actually matter to the larger history of that time? Explain.

5. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. Woolf if being oddly Daoist and psychological here. Do you agree that human brains are and should be androgynous? Explain.

A Room 6.1 dual gender

6. What does Woolf see as the fatal defect of fascism in regards to its ability to produce art?

7. What does Woolf see as the fatal defect of British capitalist democracy, as it existed in 1928, in regards to its ability to produce art?

8. Consider the following section and the surrounding text before answering the question. What changes in the role and position of women at the end of the second wave of the Industrial Revolution are described here by Woolf? A list is fine.

A Room 6.2 changes for women

Overall summary questions:

8. Why was this essay titled “A Room of One’s Own” instead of “Shakespeare’s Sister.” Woolf clearly loves that metaphor of the Shakespeare’s imagined thwarted sister. Why didn’t she put that into her title?

9. Do you think this book/essay changed any minds? Explain.

10. Can you imagine living in 1928 and having the worldview that Woolf does? With what of her thinking can you empathize, and what of it is just too hard to truly empathize with authentically? What is it that you can read and understand, but not feel in your bones? (same question)

11. This is more of a literary essay than a history essay? What do you notice as the differences? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this sort of essay over a historical essay?