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Maritime Modernism: The Aqueous Form of Virginia Woolf's The Waves

Maritime Modernism: The Aqueous Form of Virginia Woolf's The Waves <jats:p> Despite the rise of eco-critical approaches to Woolf's writing and a thriving debate as to whether her 1931 novel perpetuates or challenges colonialist axiomatics, The Waves has not inspired an extended, focused investigation of its articulation of aqueous nature and the latter's reshaping under imperial maritime power. This essay examines how a critique of maritime modernity emerges from The Waves' modernist orchestration of the seas. I contend that the work sets a conventional representation of the waters as facilitators of national and imperial progress against a counter-articulation that formally challenges it. The novel thus allows us to place it in the context of inscriptions of the seas by techno-sciences and international law during high imperialism and re-organizations of the seas as the empire contracts. Viewed in relation to the maritime recoding of the planet's hydrosphere, and the perceptual modes, narratives, and ethos of mastery it engenders, The Waves elucidates an alternative vision to a life-world made uneven by this recoding. Concentrating on waters, I conclude, allows us to glean a textured view of an understudied but persistent feature in Woolf's fiction. </jats:p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Maritime Modernism: The Aqueous Form of Virginia Woolf's The Waves

Modernist Cultures , Volume 11 (2): 268 – Jul 1, 2016

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2016
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2016.0138
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

<jats:p> Despite the rise of eco-critical approaches to Woolf's writing and a thriving debate as to whether her 1931 novel perpetuates or challenges colonialist axiomatics, The Waves has not inspired an extended, focused investigation of its articulation of aqueous nature and the latter's reshaping under imperial maritime power. This essay examines how a critique of maritime modernity emerges from The Waves' modernist orchestration of the seas. I contend that the work sets a conventional representation of the waters as facilitators of national and imperial progress against a counter-articulation that formally challenges it. The novel thus allows us to place it in the context of inscriptions of the seas by techno-sciences and international law during high imperialism and re-organizations of the seas as the empire contracts. Viewed in relation to the maritime recoding of the planet's hydrosphere, and the perceptual modes, narratives, and ethos of mastery it engenders, The Waves elucidates an alternative vision to a life-world made uneven by this recoding. Concentrating on waters, I conclude, allows us to glean a textured view of an understudied but persistent feature in Woolf's fiction. </jats:p>

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Jul 1, 2016

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