Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Long Live Liz!
Thursday, May 23, 2024, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm  
Instructor: Jennifer Fleeger, Ph.D., Ursinus College

The story of one evening in a tempestuous marriage, played out in front of a younger couple, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, whose own marriage rises to the surface in their portrayal of George and Martha. The seminar will discuss Taylor and Burton’s notorious arguments and lavish lifestyle, as well as the adaptation of the film from Edward Albee’s rather long 1962 play, attending to the details in and success of the original. We will consider the ways that Mike Nichols’s film version expands the setting, making it more cinematic, and how Ernest Lehman’s script deals with contemporary expectations about dialogue. To flesh out the latter, we’ll talk about the film’s relationship to the advent of the MPAA film rating system in 1968.  

As Nichols’s first feature, the film’s enormous critical success (it was nominated for thirteen Oscars) established the context for the director’s career, something we’ll discuss in pointing to his tendencies and preoccupations. We’ll use the hit song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” (from Disney’s 1933 cartoon “The Three Little Pigs”) as an interpretative tool for the plot and consider the reference to Virginia Woolf in the title. Finally, we’ll examine how Alex North’s score contributes to and enriches the film’s meaning. 

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members


  • Thursday, May 23 · 6:30 pm