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Literary critics and art theorists celebrate the work of Virginia Woolf and the activities of London’s Bloomsbury Group as emblematic of the early achievements made in modernist art and aesthetics. This dissertation argues that their creative activities exceeded modernist ideologies and practices of unity, purity, and autonomy; they instead embody the distinct postmodernist traits of hybridity, discord, and fragmentation. This project relocates Woolf’s literary work and the culture of the Bloomsbury Group within a posthumanistic theater; modernism was a performative cloak for their radical personal beliefs and endeavors. In their private lives, the Bloomsberries’ feminism, queer subculture, atheism, pacifism, and mixing of social classes reveal them – as individuals and as an intimate group – to be highly performative, heterogeneous, and post-human.
I assert that Woolf’s novels describe the Bloomsberries’ radical social values and behaviors via the genre of fiction. The genre safeguarded the novels’ contents for public consumption on the premise that fiction is not confined to facts and real people or events. Woolf’s stories offered unutterable truths about herself, the group, and quotidian urban life.
This postmodern re-reading of Woolf’s novels, Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves, and her essay, A Room of One’s Own, repositions Woolf’s lyric prose as contributing to discourse on the post-human condition and with contemporary feminist and queer theory. Yoking the ideas of Deleuze and Guattari, Butler, Haraway, Braidotti, Bryant, Bergson, and others, I assert that Woolf’s stories occupy a threshold between fiction and post-human philosophy, because her characters exceed being in the world and instead participate in a scheme of becoming-with the world. Woolf’s scheme for intersubjective consciousness is a rhizomatic relation of encounters, machines, and multispecies alliances that permeate the post-human body and psyche. We find, in her century-old artistic vision, a schema for today’s post-human storytelling in the Anthropocene.
Art Practice | Arts and Humanities | Theatre and Performance Studies
Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts
Barber, Christina A., "In the Mouth of the Woolf: The Posthumanistic Theater of the Bloomsbury Group" (2019). Academic Research and Dissertations. 29.
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