Reading Jacob's Room as a Transmission of Shocks
St. Aubin, Adrienne Michelle
This thesis examines Virginia Woolf's 1923 novel Jacob's Room as a transmission of what Woolf in her unfinished memoir refers to as 'shocks.' In A Sketch of the Past, Woolf describes the experience of these shocks and her immediate desire to explain them, presenting writing as a reparative activity that imparts meaning to the apparently senseless and alleviates pain by creating wholeness out of fragmentation. She illustrates this concept by providing three examples from her own childhood, each of which offers a very different model of experience. In this thesis I relate these shocks to the structure of Jacob's Room and a number of strangely digressive and open-ended passages within it, proposing that the novel actually resists Woolf's own model of reparative writing and does not process shocks into wholes for the reader so much as transmit them to her.
An Honors Thesis Submitted to the Department of English, Cornell University, April 2006. Winner of the Abrams Prize for the Best Senior Honors Thesis in English.
Jacob's Room; violence; ineffability; Virginia Woolf; synecdoche; "A Sketch of the Past"; British Modernism
dissertation or thesis