Two sightings that locate Virginia Woolf in academia — a natural fit of course.
First up is a sighting posted by Emily Kopley to the Virginia Woolf Listserv that has also made its way around Facebook. It appeared in the April 8, 2013, issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education as an essay on teaching English to high school students and was titled “What my Ph.D. Taught Me.” The author is Jessica Levenstein, an English teacher at Horace Mann.
Kopley posted “the Woolfian bit” to the list, since the article is available to Chronicle subscribers only. She is the author of Virginia Woolf and the Thirties Poets (Cecil Woolf Publishers, 2011, #60 in the Bloomsbury Heritage monograph series).
“Every now and then, in the classroom, there are transcendent moments that surpass my own great expectations, formed in the classrooms of my astounding professors. Last spring, as we finished discussing Clarissa Dalloway’s June day, we read aloud Clarissa’s reaction to the news of Septimus’s suicide: “A thing there was that mattered; a thing, wreathed about with chatter, defaced, obscured in her own life, let drop every day in corruption, lies, chatter.”
“The room was quiet for a moment, as my students considered what that “thing” might be for Clarissa, and what it might be for them. Finally, an 11th-grade girl at the far end of the table sighed, “I wish I could always be in the middle of reading *Mrs. Dalloway.*” Become a teacher, I thought, and your wish can come true.
The second academic sighting is Simon Gikandi’s editor’s column, “The Fantasy of the Library,” in the January issue of PMLA. Gikandi begins the piece by relating the envy of Woolf that he felt “Once upon a time, when I was dreaming of becoming a writer.”
His envy, he explains, was “because she had the good fortune to live in Bloomsbury, close to the British Museum and its famous Reading Room.” He goes on to cite Woolf’s descriptions of the room in A Room of One’s Own and Jacob’s Room.