Archive for November 16th, 2011

Virginia Woolf participated in the Occupy movement at the University of California at Berkeley last week.

It’s true that her involvement appeared to be limited to a sign carried by Celeste Langan, associate professor of English at UC Berkeley. But I think her presence was more substantial than that.

The sign held by Langan, a teacher and a student of Thoreau, read:

We’re Afraid for Virginia Woolf

We should be afraid. Langan was yanked out of a crowd of protesters by her hair and arrested.

In his piece in Huff Post College, Michael Roth quoted Langan as saying she “was defending liberal education in Sproul Plaza.” She was “defending an idea of the university that is being dismantled by political and education leaders who support only the most narrow forms of instrumental training.” Her “idea of the university emphasizes the links between the practice of free thinking and the cultivation of freedom in the years after graduation.”

I can easily link this to Woolf’s ideas expressed in Three Guineas. She talks about the “adventurous college,” one that combines learning and learners instead of separating them, one in which “teachers should be drawn from the good livers as well as from the good thinkers” (49-50).

Was Woolf on UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza last Wednesday? Was she there on Nov. 15 for the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture? And will she participate in tomorrow’s all-out occupation of NYU and Hunter and Queen’s? I think so.

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