8th May 2023
Our fourth Riversmeet slow learning course 'Orlando' is awash with autobiographical material.
The great surprise for Virginia Woolf was the success of “Orlando”. It was, unlike her other works, written at great speed. It has a light-hearted quality, a playfulness, that sets it apart from those novels written before and after. There are, after all, few laugh-out-loud jokes elsewhere in her writing.
The joke that most amused Virginia Woolf herself was the frequent shelving by bookshops of “Orlando” under – ‘biography’.
Beneath this surface, though, there is serious purpose. For Woolf, there was the wish to write what has since been described as a very long and exquisite love-letter to Vita Sackville-West. One of the threads that will run through our slow reading of the novel will be the inevitable consideration of the nature of the relationship between the two women – and the subsequent trajectory of their reputations.
For us as readers of the novel – for novel it is! – today there is a resonance and a connection to contemporary debates about gender, sexuality and identity. We will engage these debates, but through the lens of the novel and of other contemporary
We will, I hope, enjoy the jokes, explore the sometimes obscure references that make up a distinctive intellectual fabric, consider the book in its moment and in its place for us today.
This is how the course works:
An introductory online lecture will be available from May 8th. The first zoom session of the course starts week beginning May 15th. You can attend either or both of the zoom sessions, which will be fortnightly on Tuesdays at 14.00 GMT (09.00 EST) and Thursdays at 20.00 GMT (15.00 EST). Late admissions are possible. Please, contact us for more information or visit our FAQs.
Included in the course:
- A reading guide and explanation of the six course units
- Access to a series of six short online lectures, released each fortnight throughout the course
- A fortnightly zoom webinar/discussion group
- Access to supporting material for those who want to read or view background material