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Woolf: Mrs Dalloway

3. Literary Modernism

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the genre of literary modernism, focusing in particular on: (i) its development from the literature of the Victorian period; (ii) the importance of the ordinary or the everyday (“the ordinary mind on an ordinary day”); (iii) the difference in plot and character compared to the Victorian novel; (iv) the use of symbolism; and (v) the emphasis on sexuality.


In this course, Dr Madeleine Davies (University of Reading) explores Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs Dalloway. In the first three modules, we outline some of the key contexts for the novel, including: (i) the life and career of Virginia Woolf; (ii) Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries; and (iii) literary modernism. After that we turn to the novel itself, focusing in particular on its form and structure, the figure of Clarissa Dalloway, and the themes of connection and isolation, sexuality, war, insanity, and female creativity. We end with some tips for reading Virginia Woolf in general and Mrs Dalloway in particular.


Madeleine Davies is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Reading. She specialises in Women's Writing and Feminist Theory, particularly the work of Virginia Woolf and Margaret Atwood. She has published widely on Margaret Atwood in particular, including 'Margaret Atwood's Female Bodies' in C. A. Howells (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Margaret Atwood (2006).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Davies, M. (2018, September 09). Woolf: Mrs Dalloway - Literary Modernism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Davies, M. "Woolf: Mrs Dalloway – Literary Modernism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 09 Sep 2018,