Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English



First Advisor

Stephen M. Barber


Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) wrote novels and essays with a sense of urgency. During the interwar years 1918-39, Woolf was interested in how public institutions could contribute to war. One institution that she believed contributed rather than prevented England’s involvement in the war was the elite education system, which guaranteed young men of the “educated class” learning opportunities and economic advantages.

Though Woolf was herself a member of the “educated class” as a woman she did not have the same rights to an education as the men belonging to the same class. Woolf critiqued both the institution of education as a place dedicated to privileged men, separating outsiders on the basis of gender and class and the coercive lecturing model used to persuade young men to believe that war was a viable option. Through her art, Woolf imagined an alternative pedagogy where men and women could learn collectively.

It is this discussion over the private and public life of English individuals throughout the interwar years that led me to consider Virginia Woolf’s work in the context of education. I created a model for contemporary reader/educators who can use the practices outlined in Woolf’s work as a framework for developing their own transformative pedagogy.



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