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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Woolf’

If you live in the UK, you have 20 more days to watch Alexandra Harris discuss Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway on the Sept. 16 broadcast of the BBC Four program, The Secret Life of Books.

If you live anywhere besides the UK, you are just out of luck, however. Sadly, as a U.S. resident, I couldn’t even watch the three brief video clips on the website. In one, Harris visits Monk’s House and is filmed inside Woolf’s writing Lodge. In another, she talks about Woolf’s creation of a new kind of novel. And in a third, she examines the first draft of Dalloway, then titled The Hours.

In the 30-minute program, produced in partnership with Open University, Harris shows how Woolf produced a newly imagined novel when she wrote MD. Citing original manuscripts, diaries and notebooks, Harris argues that Woolf’s writing process also allowed her to stay sane as she channeled her own mental illness into the character of Septimus Warren Smith.

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We all know that Woolf’s works are notably challenging to read and teach because of her unconventional themes and plots, innovative structures, non-traditional narrative forms, historical and literary allusions, and avant-garde techniques.

approaches to woolfjpgAs a community college teacher of literature, one technique I have found to combat the challenges of teaching Woolf is to review, at the start of each semester, some of the pedagogical guides that help teachers of Woolf bring our students closer to the author, such as Approaches to Teaching Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (2009, edited by Eileen Barrett and Ruth O. Saxton).

But at the start of this fall semester I found myself in a new position in my department and my new office brought new duties, new expectations and new stresses. In my past visions, sitting in my office on my first day as a full-time instructor would feel warm, shiny and successful. I would be hopeful. I would be energetic. I would bring Woolf into every class.

Instead, on the first day of school I sat in the academic room of my own and stared at the photo of Woolf that I taped to my wall and then at the calendar filled with meetings, conferences and due dates. I didn’t feel shiny and hopeful; I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. I didn’t need a new teaching technique this semester. I needed a new inspirational technique.

kew gardensI chose to not review pedagogical guides on Woolf. Instead, I turned to my past students’ responses to “Kew Gardens”. My students’ positive reactions to Woolf reminded me of why we work so hard to bring her words to readers, to challenge our students with unconventional literature and to stimulate students’ imaginations; of why we sometimes dedicate a whole class to discussing beauty; of why we go home felling like failures when some don’t seem to “get it.”

Reading the reactions my community college students in Las Vegas had upon their first encounter with Woolf revived my passion for teaching this challenging author:

I think Woolf is a beautiful writer. Her work is filled with passion, love, beauty and the depth seems to draw in hungry intelligent minds. I appreciate any writer who challenges her readers to think outside of the mundane society around them and see the beauty in their surroundings. -Erica

Virginia Woolf’s writing is so unconventional and brave. It is admirable that she had the courage to break out of formal conventions. All the while, she managed to capture the assortment of everyday interactions in one short story. -Ian

I quite like Kew Gardens! The unconventional plot and intimate look into each character’s conversations not only makes for an interesting read, but made me ponder as to what one might hear if they were to listen in on any one of my personal conversations at any given time. Additionally, while reading Kew Garden’s I couldn’t help but imagine that the brief glimpses of narration must be something like what God hears as he checks in on our lives. –Sara

Where does your passion for Woolf come from?

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Sarah Blake of the Cabinets of Curiosity Theatre Company, will present her interpretation of Virginia Woolf’sVirginia-Woolf-poster-jpeg-websize-244x300 A Room of One’s Own in two performances on Friday, Sept. 12, at this year’s Ripon International Festival.

The 2:30 performance is sold out, but tickets for the 6:30 p.m. show are still available. Prices are £10 and £5 for students. The venue is Thorpe Prebend House, Ripon.

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Installation of the "Virginia" series in the Mythopoesis exhibit

Installation of the “Virginia” series in the Mythopoesis exhibit

In “Virginia,” one of six photo series in Mythopoesis, the MA degree show at the University of Brighton, Annalaura Palma displays photos retracing Virginia Woolf’s steps from Monk’s House in Rodmell, Sussex, to the River Ouse where she drowned herself March 28, 1941.

Palma explains that since no one knows the exact path Woolf took to the river or the precise spot she entered, the walk embodied an imaginary element.

Between spring and summer, Palma went on foot from Monk’s House to the River Ouse many times. In the process, she noticed swamps and bogs hidden by weeds that evoked a ghostly body shape.

“The water creates crevices in the land that evokes a ghostly body shape. I looked for Virginia Woolf ’s presence in her beloved landscape and  I found her in the water. In my photographs, she became water: I imagined her like a water spirit who inhabits the landscape of the Ouse Valley which once she described ‘an inland sea’. – Palma

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“Virginia” exhibit photo from the catalogue, as provided by the artist

In an email, Palma said the photos in her “Virginia” series, which are handmade C-type photos, are just the start of a longer photographic project about Woolf and the English landscape. She is based in the UK and considers an investigation around the relationship between text and the photographic image is central to her work, according to her website.

Show dates for Mythopoesis are Sept. 12-19, with an opening reception Sept. 12, 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Faculty of Arts Grand Parade. Palma’s photographs will also be published in a magazine.

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A few recent Woolf sightings:

  • A history project in San Francisco’s gay district that honors Virginia Woolf. The last bronze plaque of the 20 in the Rainbow Honor Walk will memorialize Woolf as a deceased person in the LGBT community who left a lasting legacy. Author Armistead Maupin will dedicate her plaque, which will be located near the Twin Peaks bar at the corner of Castro and 17th streets.
  • An open letter to Woolf: To the Late Virginia Woolf by Erin Lin published Aug. 29, 2014. Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 11.56.58 AM
  • Book recommendations from a Berkeley-based bookstore with a Woolf-related name, Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts. The shop offers Mrs. Dalloway’s Better Than a Book Club Selections and the Welcome to Clarissa’s Bookshelf young adult blog.
  • Dr. Claire Nicholson’s exploration of  Woolf’s often ambivalent relationship with clothes and fashion as part of the National Portrait gallery’s exhibit on Virginia Woolf. The Luncthtime Lecture, Virginia Woolf: A Woman of Fashion?, is free and will be held Sept. 4 at 1:15 p.m. at the NPG.
  • Insurrections of the Mind, coming Sept. 16 from Harper Perennial, collects 70 essays from the influential The New Republic magazine that includes one from Woolf.
  • A review of the documentary Secrets from the Asylum that mentions Laura Stephen, Woolf’s half-sister.
  • Orlando was sold out in Akron, Ohio.
  • Woolf broke a grammar rule regarding accusative predicates.
  • This list of “Six Best Books” includes Maggie Gee’s Virginia Woolf in Manhattan.
  • What do we see when we read? A take on Lily Briscoe’s painting in To the Lighthouse — and how we see Woolf’s words and Lily’s painting.

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The Cambridge Companion to Bloomsbury, edited by Victoria Rosner, is now out.  It’s available inCambridge Comp to BG paperback.

According to the Cambridge website, the volume:

  • Provides the only general introduction to the Bloomsbury Group in print
  • Offers a radically new interpretation of Bloomsbury, with an emphasis on politics, both international and sexual
  • Brings together many of the major scholars of the Bloomsbury Group

You can also find a list of the essays included in the volume on the site. Contributors include Molly Pulda, Victoria Rosner, Katy Mullin, Ann Banfield, Morag Shiach, Christopher Reed, Christine Froula, Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, Mary Ann Caws, Helen Southworth, Laura Marcus, Vesna Goldsworthy, Brenda R. Silver and Regina Marler.

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Originally posted on SuchFriends Blog:

…In England

War has come to Bloomsbury.

The image of Lord Horatio Kitchener, 64, recruiting young men, appears for the first time, on the black and white cover of London Opinion magazine.

1st appearance of Lord Kitchener's recruiting image

1st appearance of Lord Kitchener’s recruiting image

Bloomsbury friend, critic Desmond MacCarthy, 37, has signed up for the Red Cross Ambulance Service; art critic Clive Bell, turning 33, is trying to figure out how to join a non-combat unit such as the Army Service Corps; and painter Duncan Grant, 29, has entered the National Reserve.

Despite the hostilities in the rest of Europe, the Bloomsberries don’t stop moving. Duncan takes a studio in Fitzroy Square as well as rooms in nearby 46 Gordon Square, where Clive lives with his wife, painter Vanessa Bell, 35. Their friend John Maynard Keynes, 31, writing articles for The Economist magazine, moves to Great Ormond Street; and Vanessa’s sister…

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