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An honors thesis conducted by Casey Lyons ’02 (Guilford, Conn.) traces the evolution of Virginia Woolf’s stream of consciousness technique, placing heavy emphasis on Woolf’s novels Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Jacob’s Room.

“I will attempt, through close reading, to determine to what extent one person can know another,” says Lyons. “Factors such as intuition and societal and personal roles will factor in this somewhat psychological reading between the lines.”

Lyons is undertaking the yearlong study in pursuit of departmental honors in English. “To me, a thesis project is a chance to really flex my intellectual muscles,” says Lyons. “I’ve never really undertaken a project of this magnitude before, but I think that through patience and diligent work I’ll be able produce a thesis that reflects both my work ethic, and my person.”

Stream of consciousness is a literary technique that traces thoughts of characters, including flashbacks, flash forwards and everything that a character infers.

“I first became interested in Virginia Woolf’s stream of consciousness technique in my contemporary fiction class that I took last semester with Professor Susan Blake,” says Lyons. “I realized the incredible depth it must have taken to create a stream of consciousness novel and I wanted to uncover as much hidden meaning as possible. After all, relations between people are often deeper than one will say in the course of a novel. Things like feelings and reactions begin to play heavily on one person’s true conception of another. What really makes me excited is the scope at which I can explore this paper.”

“Professors have always told students to ‘narrow the focus’ of a paper topic. This thesis is my chance to tackle a huge topic under many different lights. In the end, I’ll have a complete idea, described carefully that will hopefully put me on some academic/intellectual map. It takes a lot of my time, but it’s worth it.”

The professor assisting Lyons in getting on that intellectual map is Joseph Martin, associate professor of English, with whom he meets on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. “I like working with Professor Martin,” says Lyons. “Professor Martin is very well read in all modern English literature, and helps me build bridges between my ideas, as well as offering insight into ideas I may have skipped over.”

Lyons has already read 30 books as part of his research on the topic and says he’s glad that Lafayette has the means to obtain the secondary sources to supplement his ideas and guide him in new directions. “I think Lafayette College is a great place to be doing such a research project,” says Lyons, who will defend his thesis at the end of next semester.

During fall semester of last school year, Lyons studied abroad in Athens, Greece.

Categorized in: Academic News