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April 8, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


This course introduces Virginia Woolf’s last novel, Between the Acts (1941), with the aim of understanding how she writes about time, memory, and ideas about identity. It also considers why Woolf’s fiction is often considered difficult. Selected extracts from her essays on writing help to clarify some of these perceived difficulties, illuminating complex patterning and structure in this fictional account of an English village, on a day in June in 1939.


This course, Exploring Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts, is designed to explore the historical context of the final work of Virginia Woolf, one of the most significant modernist writers of the twentieth century. You’ll read about the historical context that led to the writing of this novel, which was written during the late 1930s, and published during the Second World War. You’ll explore Woolf’s views on the role of this novel, and the wider significance of literature and language. As well as reading about the novel, you will read several extracts from it, which will have audio readings accompanying them, and you’ll be asked to analyze these extracts, and determine how Woolf achieved her aims by depicting images, memories, and language. It would be helpful, but not essential, to read Between the Acts for this course. Where passages from the novel are used in the course, the page numbers cited correspond to the Oxford World’s Classics edition of the text.  

Learning Outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:
  • Identify Woolf’s ideas about time, memory and identity
  • Understand the role of innovation and experimentation in prose fiction
  • Demonstrate a developed ability to read dense poetic prose analytically.

Course Curriculum

    • Exploring Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts 00:45:00
    • Background of War 00:45:00
    • What can Prose Fiction Do? 00:35:00
    • Genre 00:45:00
    • Time and Continuity 00:45:00
    • Woolf and Language 00:45:00
    • Imagery and Identity 00:45:00
    • The Artist in the Text 00:45:00
    • Conclusion 00:10:00

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Open University UK