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From Women’s History to Gender History? Re-Reading (Literary) History in A Room of One’s Own

Abstract : In the third chapter of Virginia Woolf’s 1929 essay, A Room of One’s Own, Mary Beton makes the following suggestion: “It would be ambitious beyond my daring, I thought, looking about the shelves for books that were not there, to suggest to the students of those famous colleges that they should rewrite history, though I own that it often seems a little queer as it is, unreal, lop-sided; but why should they not add a supplement to history?”. This suggestion has been taken up since the 1970s by many feminist literary critics and historians who have contributed to establishing the fields of women’s history and literary history, some of whom paid their tributes to Woolf as a historical foremother. For one has to acknowledge that A Room of One’s Own is a highly performative text in which Woolf puts into practice what she seems to be merely suggesting, and, indeed, as Woolf's narrator goes through her bookshelves, (literary) history is being rewritten. Many critics have rightly considered that Woolf's non-exhaustive, and partly fictional, historical sketch was a highly feminist take on women’s (literary) history. However, taking into account that the critical and historiographical move from women’s history to gender history had not yet been applied to Woolf’s writing of (literary) history in A Room of One’s Own, this paper offered to follow Joan Scott's lead and to use gender as a “useful category of historical [and literary] analysis”, in order to show that Woolf does not circumscribe her reflection on history and literary history to women but also lays the ground for what will become gender history.
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Contributor : Valérie Favre Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 4:22:18 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - 7:31:08 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01939678, version 1



Valérie Favre. From Women’s History to Gender History? Re-Reading (Literary) History in A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf and the Writing of History, Anne Besnault; Marie Laniel; Anne-Marie Smith-Di Biasio, Nov 2018, Rouen, France. ⟨halshs-01939678⟩



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