That, and reading a selection of publications by gentlemans of UniMelb EngDept that made me feel all stupid and unsophisticated like, then having an interesting debate about them with myself in my afternoon seminar where nobody else had done the reading. I should really get a couple of sock puppets to make these one-woman debate shows a little bit more visually interesting.
Yes that, the essay topics, and writing and sending off a conference paper proposal also in the general direction of Parkville and also feeling it lacked a certain something along the lines of the clever way they talk there about spectacular discursive formations and suchlike. The good thing is I am old enough now not to mind this very much.
It's only fair to acknowledge that while I was doing these things I was using a computer, and that means yes I did look at a video or two on Youtube. Like this one for example.
Here are the essay questions I settled upon. Tell me which essay you would do, what book you would do it on (any book you like as long as it's by a woman) and what you would say. Thus you get all the fun of thinking about essay writing without actually having to write the essay itself.
(NB 'wwb' is the subject code. Not some newfangled literary studies jargon. It reminds me of the PKD story "Beyone Lies The Wub.")
1. “I may tell you that the very next words I read were these – ‘Chloe liked Olivia…’ Do not start. Do not blush. Let us admit in the privacy of our own society that these things sometimes happen. Sometimes women do like women.” In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf writes that fiction by men contains very few depictions of friendships between women. Discuss how female friendship, liking, co-operation or affinity is represented in a text studied in WWB.
2. Explore the ways a WWB text of your choice thinks about being dependent and/or being depended upon.
3. Anger and aggression, and conciliation or the desire to please, are the two dangers facing women novelists, according to Woolf. Why might this be so? Discuss a WWB work of fiction that you consider to be either angry or conciliatory, saying whether you think that text is distorted or limited because of this, and explaining how you arrived at that opinion.
4. What does clothing mean in the WWB text of your choice? How does it relate to the “real” self?
5. “War shadows every gendered relationship” argues Joshua Goldstein (in War and Gender). Discuss the ways a WWB text uses war to construct relations between men and women.
6. Discuss the representation of a woman writer in a WWB text, using Woolf’s stipulations about the necessity of financial and spatial independence as a starting point.
7. Describe the stylistic, thematic, and psychological role of interruption in a WWB text of your choice.
8. Several WWB texts suggest special links – both bonds and resemblances - between women and animals. Explain how such links operate in a text of your choice. How do you feel about these suggestions?
9. Write an essay exploring how a WWB text depicts female education. What is the appeal of stories about schools and schooling? Pay particular attention to what girls are taught and to what they actually learn.