A Review of "Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory

in Contention

Derek Ryan’s Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory is an exploration of “Woolf’s writing alongside Deleuze’s philosophy and new materialist theories of ‘sex’, ‘animal’ and ‘life’.” What might at first glance sound like yet another exegetical effort to elucidate new meanings in Woolf’s writing—this time using new materialist approaches—is in fact a claim towards an understanding of Woolf’s literary practice as itself a form of theorizing. In Ryan’s intriguing study, Woolf emerges as a precursor of, and inspiration for, contemporary philosophical and critical approaches that privilege matter and material relations as productive venues for “nonanthropocentric conceptualizations” of the world (9).

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