80 years after Virginia Woolf’s death, FSU English professor available to comment on Woolf’s work, influence

Celia R. Caputi, professor of English. (Al Hall)
Celia R. Caputi, professor of English. (Al Hall)

English writer Adeline Virginia Woolf is considered to be one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device. She published more than 45 works, including various novels, essays and short stories.

Troubled by mental illness throughout her life, Woolf was institutionalized several times and attempted suicide twice before drowning herself by filling her overcoat pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse on March 28, 1941.

80 years after her death, an expert from the Florida State University English Department is available to discuss Virginia Woolf’s work and lasting influence.

Celia R. Caputi, professor, English department

Caputi specializes in Renaissance literature, feminist theory, Virginia Woolf and critical race studies. She teaches courses on women’s literature, literary history and Virginia Woolf’s engagement with the works of William Shakespeare. Caputi’s publications cover a broad range but universally spring from her commitment to intersectional and transnational feminisms on both the critical and practical level. Her current research brings the work of Virginia Woolf into conversation with the Harlem Renaissance.

“In her essay ‘A Room of One’s Own,’ Virginia Woolf laid the foundation for a feminist canon in English literature; in her novel ‘Orlando,’ she foretold — as though with a crystal ball — the current revolution in gender and identity as reflected both in theory and in the lived experiences of the LGTBQ+ community. In this breathing, thriving legacy, Virginia Woolf is as much alive as she was 80 years ago when fear of a Nazi invasion and impending mental and physical incapacity drove her to take her life. That she survived personal trauma, the first World War, and a global pandemic that killed tens of millions (COVID-19 has taken vastly fewer lives, to date) makes this anniversary all that much more powerful.”

“Shakespeare is said to have inscribed his own immortality in his ‘eternizing’ claims over the androgynous ‘master mistress’ of his love sonnets; Woolf took a page out of his book (pun intended) in immortalizing her beloved Vita Sackville-West as the time-travelling, gender-transcending Lord/Lady Orlando. ‘Great poets do not die,’ she wrote of the hypothetical Judith Shakespeare — the Bard’s overlooked but equally talented sister. The same can be said of Woolf herself: ‘She lives in you and me.’”