Panel

Literary Interventions II

Location

Room 223, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

2-4-2016 9:00 AM

End Date

2-4-2016 10:15 AM

Keywords

War, Woolf, Gender, Sound

Abstract

In A Room of One’s Own, as well as in Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf contends that the devaluing of women and the perpetuating of women’s inferiority facilitate all heroic and violent action (A Room of One’s Own, 36). In this paper, I’ve applied Woolf’s argument to her 1922 novel, Jacob’s Room, and focused on the ways in which certain sounds become gendered as masculine or feminine and devalued accordingly, leading to a masculine society that operates on masculine ideals. In Jacob’s Room, women’s voices are characterized as chatty and empty, where men’s voices exude authority and structure, but also militarism. As I will show, Woolf uses sound in Jacob’s Room to reinforce gender inequality, align Jacob with his inevitable death in war, and reinforce the idea from her other proto-feminist works that hyper-masculinity sustains an aggressive and militaristic society. By aligning certain sounds in the novel with masculinity and militarism, Woolf has recreated a stronger sense of her own prediction that the silencing of women (through exclusion from politics and education), would lead to violence, and ultimately, the silencing of an entire generation of men as well.

Comments

I plan to expand on this paper to include a formalist reading of the sounds of the text itself, as well as a discussion of the gendering of language in Jacob's Room according to Saussere's definitions of "langue" and "parole."

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Apr 2nd, 9:00 AM Apr 2nd, 10:15 AM

"Silence Laps Smooth Over Sound': Sound, Gender, and War, in Jacob's Room"

Room 223, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

In A Room of One’s Own, as well as in Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf contends that the devaluing of women and the perpetuating of women’s inferiority facilitate all heroic and violent action (A Room of One’s Own, 36). In this paper, I’ve applied Woolf’s argument to her 1922 novel, Jacob’s Room, and focused on the ways in which certain sounds become gendered as masculine or feminine and devalued accordingly, leading to a masculine society that operates on masculine ideals. In Jacob’s Room, women’s voices are characterized as chatty and empty, where men’s voices exude authority and structure, but also militarism. As I will show, Woolf uses sound in Jacob’s Room to reinforce gender inequality, align Jacob with his inevitable death in war, and reinforce the idea from her other proto-feminist works that hyper-masculinity sustains an aggressive and militaristic society. By aligning certain sounds in the novel with masculinity and militarism, Woolf has recreated a stronger sense of her own prediction that the silencing of women (through exclusion from politics and education), would lead to violence, and ultimately, the silencing of an entire generation of men as well.