Presenter Information

Sylvia Cutler-LaboulayeFollow

Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

Examining what Woolf calls the “androgynous mind” in her fictional narrative A Room of One’s Own, I will analyze the function of bisexuality in portraying androgyny in Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway. I will address how Woolf’s exploration of sexual orientation in the characters of Septimus Smith and Clarissa Dalloway illustrates the value of the androgynous mind and its capacity to overcome patriarchal, masculine modes of writing. Furthermore, I will discuss the work of French feminist Hélène Cixous and the theory of écriture féminine in relation to Woolf’s own writing. Drawing on Cixous’ “The Laugh of the Medusa,” I will demonstrate how Woolf’s own concept of androgynous writing both upholds and complicates the ultimatum of Cixous’ essay, one which challenges women to write from the experience of their bodies. Addressing the sexual orientation of Woolf’s Septimus and Clarissa through the sexual spectrum of experience within the body, I will ultimately evaluate the androgynous mode’s indispensability as a tool to overcome phallocentric language and its capacity to transcend oppressive definitions of bodily experience, sexuality, and identity.

Origin of Submission

as part of a class

Faculty Involvement

Brandie Siegfried

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The Sexual Spectrum of the Androgynous Mind in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway

Examining what Woolf calls the “androgynous mind” in her fictional narrative A Room of One’s Own, I will analyze the function of bisexuality in portraying androgyny in Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway. I will address how Woolf’s exploration of sexual orientation in the characters of Septimus Smith and Clarissa Dalloway illustrates the value of the androgynous mind and its capacity to overcome patriarchal, masculine modes of writing. Furthermore, I will discuss the work of French feminist Hélène Cixous and the theory of écriture féminine in relation to Woolf’s own writing. Drawing on Cixous’ “The Laugh of the Medusa,” I will demonstrate how Woolf’s own concept of androgynous writing both upholds and complicates the ultimatum of Cixous’ essay, one which challenges women to write from the experience of their bodies. Addressing the sexual orientation of Woolf’s Septimus and Clarissa through the sexual spectrum of experience within the body, I will ultimately evaluate the androgynous mode’s indispensability as a tool to overcome phallocentric language and its capacity to transcend oppressive definitions of bodily experience, sexuality, and identity.