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Book: Hybridity in Systemic Functional Linguistics

Chapter: 11. Woolf’s Lecture/Novel/Essay A Room of One’s Own

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24299


Carol Taylor Torsello asks how one can classify Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in terms of genre. Her analysis begins with a careful reading of the text to extract all the explicit textual indications of the genre, which, however, point to three different ones – lecture, novel and essay. Her next step is to consider the structure of Woolf’s text and compare this structure with ones proposed for the three genres. She finds that it is not impossible to fit the elements of Woolf’s text into the structure of each of the three genres, but that important specificities keep the match with each from being completely satisfactory. As a final step she posits a contextual configuration (CC) for Woolf’s text and for each of the three genres, and makes comparisons. The best match is with the CC of the essay. Nonetheless, important specificities distance Woolf’s text from the typical essay. Taylor Torsello suggests that the metaphor of hybridity fits the generic complexity of this text, because she sees Woolf as making deliberate, selective use of three of the generic ‘templates’ available to her in her attempt to free herself of the male dominated literary code and create a feminine style and a feminine genre.

Chapter Contributors

  • Carol Torsello ( - torsello) 'University of Padua'