Location

Buller Hallway

Start Date

3-6-2015 2:30 PM

End Date

3-6-2015 4:00 PM

Description

This paper examines narrative, biography, and selfhood in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves (1931). The novel, a “play-poem,” follows six friends’ monologues from childhood to death. I analyze aspiring writer Bernard from his childhood of telling stories about companions to his inability to narrate his autobiography, arguing that he fails because he has no self to narrate. Referencing Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology’s (1974) theory of the deconstructed self identifiable only in conversation, I argue that Bernard destroys his identity by silencing his friends and becoming the sole speaker; Woolf’s biographical theory thereby establishes the communal self, prefiguring tenets of postmodern philosophy.

Acknowledgments

J.N. Andrews Honors Scholar,Undergraduate Research Scholar, and Earhart Emerging Scholar

Advisor: Beverly Matiko, English

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Mar 6th, 2:30 PM Mar 6th, 4:00 PM

P-20 “The story which he never stops telling himself”: Autobiography, Narrative Community, and the Deconstruction of Selfhood in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves

Buller Hallway

This paper examines narrative, biography, and selfhood in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves (1931). The novel, a “play-poem,” follows six friends’ monologues from childhood to death. I analyze aspiring writer Bernard from his childhood of telling stories about companions to his inability to narrate his autobiography, arguing that he fails because he has no self to narrate. Referencing Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology’s (1974) theory of the deconstructed self identifiable only in conversation, I argue that Bernard destroys his identity by silencing his friends and becoming the sole speaker; Woolf’s biographical theory thereby establishes the communal self, prefiguring tenets of postmodern philosophy.