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Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Outka


In a 1917 letter written to her brother-in-law Clive Bell, Virginia Woolf declares, “[i]ts an absorbing thing (I mean writing is) and its high time we found some new shapes, don’t you think so?” (167). In the true modernist vein, Woolf expresses a proclivity for experimental literary representations; she is, in fact, renowned for manipulating the structure of language to portray the complexities of the human condition in more intelligible forms. Her fervor for invention would be quite serendipitous: though the Great War would finally end in 1918, the gross scale of mechanized violence, an emotionally devastating experience for both soldiers and civilians, inevitably disrupted many classical tropes. The war would thus create a vacuum in the literary world, a void that Woolf would seek to fill with her “new shapes.” The innovative constructions that appear in her postwar novels Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse are founded in a desire to represent the unique incomprehensibility of war experiences by changing the novel’s structure and form.