13 May 2018

"The Reader Awakes" in Woolf Studies Annual

My academic essay "The Reader Awakes: Pedagogical Form and Utopian Impulse in The Years" has now been published in Woolf Studies Annual volume 24 in a special section devoted to the late Jane Marcus. Here's the abstract:
This essay considers Virginia Woolf’s 1937 novel The Years as a text in which the aesthetic functions pedagogically to train the receptive reader’s imagination toward liberation from oppressive literary and social structures. This interpretation develops from implications within Jane Marcus’s reading of Woolf’s later writings and seeks an understanding of how we might continue to learn to read The Years. Marcus proposed that the form of Three Guineas, which required “much noisy page turning”, was key to the way it sought to teach readers to read and, thus, to think. This insight can be applied to The Years to develop an idea of the novel’s subversive pedagogy: the way it teaches readers to imagine new alternatives to old forms and exhausted ideologies. Such a reading constructs The Years not as a work proposing a utopian system, but rather as a novel of quietly utopian desires, a novel that yearns for an ever-shifting unity of senses and sensibilities that could resist and perhaps even triumph over the threats of authoritarianism, patriarchy, nationalism, and militarism.
Note on access: As far as I know, Woolf Studies Annual is not currently available via common full-text academic databases like JSTOR or Project MUSE, and individual volumes are rather expensive at $40 each. The inaccessability of this journal is frustrating, though typical of academia: their publishing agreement steals all rights to the work from the writer without compensation, then their publishing practices make the work difficult to get hold of. I wouldn't normally publish with such a place, but it's a leading journal in one of my fields of study and tends to publish excellent work (indeed, this volume contains a number of compelling, insightful essays), so I put aside my objections to their (sadly common) exploitative practices. It's bitterly amusing that a journal devoted to a writer who wrote two books titled The Common Reader is, for all practical purposes, unavailable to common readers. (The amusement is compounded with this volume, where a tribute to the marxist-feminist academic Jane Marcus is sold at prices only the well-heeled can afford.)

In any case, if you would like to read this article, I'm very happy to email you a not-entirely-copyedited PDF. Just contact me.