Streams of Female Consciousness: A Master Class

Streams of Female Consciousness:
A Master Class

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

“What a lark! What a plunge!” Clarissa cries as she bursts onto the streets of London in the opening pages of Mrs. Dalloway. Meanwhile, at the end of Ulysses, Molly Bloom lies in bed and repeats her famous affirmation, “Yes I said yes I will Yes.” These two women will anchor our exploration of modernism’s signature narrative style — stream of consciousness. We will discuss the origins of this style, its use through the 20th century, and how it functions in fiction. Though not always fans of each other’s work, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce were both pioneers of modernist writing, each seeking new ways to use fiction to represent the particularities and universalities of the human experience. Leading our conversation is Elizabeth Crawford, a specialist in modernism and the 20th-century British novel. As this year marks the 100th anniversary of Ulysses, Joyce’s famously challenging masterpiece, Elizabeth hopes to exploit surging interest in the text to spark new conversations about its treatment of female voices and its connection to novels by her favorite modernist author, Virginia Woolf.


Tuesday, April 12

10:30 a.m. – 12 noon PDT

The safety and comfort of your home.



Elizabeth Crawford is a teacher, scholar, and PhD candidate in English at UCLA, where she studies modernism and narrative theory in the 20th-century novel. She has received numerous accolades for her work with undergraduates and recently was awarded the prestigious UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. When she’s not raving about Virginia Woolf, she’s digging into her other academic interests, including Anglo-Saxon literature, narrative representations of time, and the history and contemporary politics of the ISBN. Her current project examines how writers use — and resist — the aerial point of view in early 20th-century fiction.

We recommend reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and will send an excerpt from Ulysses by James Joyce before the event. IT IS NOT REQUIRED TO READ IN ORDER TO ATTEND.


On a June morning in 1923, Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for a party and remembering her past. Elsewhere in London, Septimus Smith is suffering from shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Their days interweave and their lives converge as the party reaches its glittering climax. Here, Virginia Woolf perfected the interior monologue and the novel’s lyricism and accessibility have made it one of her most popular works.


Following the events of one single day in Dublin, the 16th June 1904, and what happens to the characters Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and his wife Molly, Ulysses is a monument to the human condition. It has survived censorship, controversy and legal action, and even been deemed blasphemous, but remains an undisputed modernist classic: ceaselessly inventive, garrulous, funny, sorrowful, vulgar, lyrical and ultimately redemptive. It confirms Joyce’s belief that literature ‘is the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man’. ‘The most important expression which the present age has found; it is a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape’.


Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), one of the great twentieth-century authors, was at the center of the Bloomsbury Group and is a major figure in the history of literary feminism and modernism. She published her first novel, The Voyage Out, in 1915, and between 1925 and 1931 produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, including Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and The Waves (1931). She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism, and biography, including the playfully subversive Orlando (1928) and the passionate feminist essay A Room of One’s Own (1929).


James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde and is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century.

Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he utilized. Other well-known works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His other writings include three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism and his published letters.