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Archive for June, 2013

Vara Neverow and Kristin Czarnecki at the opening night reception in the hotel's Room at the Top

Vara Neverow and Kristin Czarnecki at the conference’s opening night reception in the hotel’s Room at the Top

I am late with this. After attending Woolf in the City in 2009 and Woolf and the Natural World in 2010, I posted about the conference the very next day. But this year, I haven’t been able to pull my thoughts together. I can think of a couple of reasons why.

Tweeting the conference

Maybe tweeting the conference as woolfwriter pushed any deep thinking about it out of my head. Throughout the  23rd Annual International Conference on Virginia WoolfWoolf and the Common (Wealth) Reader in Vancouver, I posted 140-character conference updates and photos under the hashtag #vwconf23 tweets.

Now I wonder if posting these brief tweets served to empty my mind of the interesting things I was hearing. Things like “Waves are metaphor for empowerment and change. -Muscogiuri #vwconf23 pic.twitter.com/NPDSpSaB8y” and “Wonderful resource: UCL Bloomsbury Project http://ucl.ac.uk/bloomsbury-pro … #vwconf23

conference tweets

 

Or maybe the fact that I took off for another conference — this one in Toronto — a few days after arriving home from Vancouver diverted my attention.

Some scattered thoughts

Despite my scattered thoughts, some things from the conference do stand out, and here they are:

  • After listening to Kristin Czarnecki‘s paper on “Proportion, Conversion, Transition: War Trauma and Sites of Healing in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony,” I am convinced that Silko’s 1977 novel,  the story of a Native American WWII veteran, is a must-read.
  • On the same panel, Aurelea Mahood shared “A Short History of Woolf’s Literary Work as Reviewed in Time and Tide,” prompting my interest in the magazine launched in 1920 by suffragist Lady Rhonda whose life is documented in her 1933 memoir This Was My World.
  • Christine Froula‘s plenary talk on “War, Peace, Internationalism: The Legacy of Bloomsbury” was riveting and made me want to know more. It’s a topic that deserves a book-length discussion.
  • Fittingly enough, the panel on “Woolf’s Troubled and Troubling Relationship to Race: The Long Reach of the White Arm of Imperialism” sparked a lively discussion among panelists Lisa Coleman and Evan Zimroth and their audience, with Zimroth detailing Woolf’s anti-Semitism as well as the anti-foreigner sentiments sparked by ballerina Lydia Lopokova.
  • A polite difference of opinion between Patrizia Muscogiuri and Melissa Rampelli about Rhoda’s agency in The Waves also threw up some sparks, which made their papers  and the resulting discussion more interesting.
  • A brilliant plenary talk by Sonita Sarker on “Virginia Woolf in the British Commonwealth” in which she discussed ways in which Englishness and whiteness are part of the Commonwealth and how writing makes people self-conscious and class-conscious.
  • Vara Neverow‘s powerful analysis of fascism in Woolf’s Three Guineas and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in which she compared Woolf’s 65 pages of footnotes at the end of TG to the 12 pages of “historical notes” set in a post-Gilead world that accompany Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel. Neverow’s passionate feminism that underlay her discussion of fascism as it relates to women’s lives in both works made her argument even more compelling.
  • And of course, there was the Saturday evening banquet, with charming readings of “A Pair of Scissors” by Sharon Thesen and “Oscar of Between” — complete with current-day references to Woolf’s Orlando — by Betsy Warland.
  • Dramatic readings of favorite Woolf quotes — and I do mean dramatic — from the International Virginia Woolf Society Players topped off the evening. And here I give a special tip of the hat to Suzanne Bellamy, Catherine Hollis and Erica Delsandro.

Facebook and the conference

Woolfians at the reception held at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver

Woolfians at the reception held at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver

I didn’t find anyone else’s tweets about the conference, but participants did share their thoughts on Facebook, and here are a few of their comments:

“Greetings from Vancouver. Bad internet connection, but now that I’m about to leave it’s working at last … better late than never, I guess. Anyway, another amazing Woolf Conference is over, great papers and keynotes, stimulating exchange of ideas but most inspiring of all was meeting my woolfians friends and colleagues. In the midst of many things not going exactly well (flights, etc., etc., etc.), you were wonderful as ever – can’t thank you enough for that.” – Patrizia Muscogiuri

“Just got back from a fabulous time at the 23rd annual Virginia Woolf conference held in Vancouver, B.C.! Many thanks to Helen Wussow and co. at Simon Fraser University for organizing a wonderful conference.” – Diana Swanson

Suzanne Bellamy posted daily accounts of the conference on her Facebook wall:

“Arrived in Vancouver for the International Virginia Woolf conference. Stunning city, we are in a

Graduate students Bureen Ruffin of Pace University and Sara Remedios of CUNY presented papers at the conference.

Graduate students Bureen Ruffin of Pace University and Sara Remedios of CUNY presented papers at the conference.

hotel with amazing views of the harbour. An always exciting few days are ahead but my presentation is this morning so I will feel better after that is done. Great to see all the marvellous friends who come annually to this special community of scholars.

“Day 2 in Vancouver. Something happens at these Woolf events that stretches time. A day is so dense with new meanings, ideas and encounters. All panels and the two keynotes were excellent, and the first big reception up on the roof of the hotel blew the air through our brains, with the harbour and snow on the mountains. What planet are we on??? Its gorgeous indeed. In particular Rosemary Ashton from Univ College London gave a wonderful keynote on old Bloomsbury before the Stephens ever moved in, a site of radical experiment and dissent that is still a model for resistance.

“Morning of day 3 Vancouver Woolf conference. I hope my second wind kicks in, already stretched out brain, feel great. Yesterday brilliant again. Several great panels extending the conf themes of common(wealth), war, internationalism, Christine Froula’s great keynote on war and Bloomsbury showed us there is still new material to discover, new mss, recombining, setting up new collages of thinking. A wonderful escape in the late afternoon, ferry across the harbour, still a working fishing and trade port, vistas of snow and intense urbanscapes, like a little HongKong but with a metal and glass coolness. A lush conf visit to the Bill Reid Gallery, First Nations treasure, indigenous food. I couldn’t eat the bison, like I can’t eat kangaroo either. But for those Australians out there, you will understand that the joyful thrill of the day for me was a stunningly good and hilarious paper (“From Bloomsbury to Fountain Lakes”) by Melinda Smith, a Tasmanian by birth but now at Univ of Hawaii, about Kath and Kim’s episode based on The Hours, when Fountain Lakes presented a musical about Virginia Woolf. I sat there in awe that she had magically brought Kimmy and her mother the foxy Kath to a Virginia Woolf conference, equipped with brilliant theoretical analysis of layers and layers of re-performing and making over taking the colonial piss out of the dominant culture but celebrating the shared creativity of brilliant women over time. I laughed and laughed. What a funny day to have. More to come. All amazing.

Patrizia Muscogiuri and Melissa Rampelli on "The Commodified, Colonized Woman"

Aurelea Mahood chaired a panel with Patrizia Muscogiuri and Melissa Rampelli on “The Commodified, Colonized Woman.”

“Vancouver last day of VW conf. Yesterday teeming with encounters, panels and keynotes, too much to write. Plans take shape for next a performance work for next year in Chicago, collaborations set up from Brazil to Italy, fusion of Woolf with Stein’s 4 Saints in 3 Acts with lots more, jazz and set work all in the planning now. The day never seemed to end, the banquet, the VW Players show, then the bar afterwards; how I love this annual fest, I have been coming every year since 1997, next year Chicago.

“Yesterday the last sessions of the Vancouver Woolf conf, great plenary about the dark side of Brooke and the war poets, their attraction to fascism, neo-paganism. I chaired the final panel with the all-time stars of experiment and innovation, Leslie Hankins, Diane Gillespie and Elisa Sparks. As always they dazzled us with new methods and ideas around type itself, money itself and the new app. The unpacking of Woolf is never-ending, for me a life time of provocative joy continues.”

Read about past Woolf conferences

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Cover of "Pride and Prejudice (Oxford Wor...

The weekend after returning from the Woolf conference in Vancouver, I attended a meeting of my local chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). We don’t have local or regional chapters of the International Virginia Woolf Society (IVWS); JASNA has a membership of around 4,000, IVWS 400, so it’s understandable.

But it’s not about size, I’m not trying to compare the two groups. They’re different but complementary–I’ve read Woolf papers about Austen and Austen papers about Woolf. Woolf reminds us of our debt to Austen.

I’ve never attended a JASNA annual conference, so I was fascinated to read through the program for the upcoming meeting this September in Minneapolis. Plenary speakers and breakout sessions cover literary, historical, theoretical and sociological viewpoints — “The Law of Inheritance in Jane Austen’s Time” and “Mothers and Other Strangers: Images of Motherhood in Pride and Prejudice,” and “Ladies’ Magazines of the Regency Period” are a few examples–as well as the nods to popular culture: we grappled with the impact of “The Hours,” while Austen scholars  and readers consider the movie adaptations of the novels plus “The Lizzie Bennett Diaries,” Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Death Comes to Pemberley, and more sequels and spinoffs than you can imagine.

But I was particularly captivated by the hands-on workshops being offered: English country dancing; crocheting a reticule or knitting a wrist cuff; Jane Austen note cards; bonnets, tams & ribbon headpieces.

We have fun at Woolf conferences, but are we missing something? In fact, it came up at the md shoesplanning meeting for next year’s conference in Chicago when Paula Maggio showed her Mrs. Dalloway shoes and Elisa Kay Sparks mentioned her WWWD (What Would Woolf Do) bracelets. Woolfians may get to show their crafty side yet! And if the Janeites can have whist tournaments, why not lawn bowls for us?

Woolf said of Austen: “The balance of her gifts was singularly perfect. Among her finished novels there are no failures….” With that in mind, it’s time to reread Pride and Prejudice in honor of its 200th birthday and pay homage to our and Woolf’s foremother.

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The Legacy Libraries Project has recreated the personal library of Leonard and Virginia Woolf online.

The project recreates personal libraries held by writers, philosophers, politicians, etc. who have passed away. If possible, it includes a full catalogue of their books, including all bibliographic details to allow for easy searches and a quick book comparison between the members’ accounts.

Colm Guerin recently completed the Woolfs’ library based on the records held by the Washington Statelegacy library University and the Harry Ransom Center. Both facilities obtained their collections after Leonard’s death with the purchase of books from Trekkie Parsons and Cecil Woolf.

Each entry includes the details of any inscription, signature, or dedication made to or from the Woolfs, including the details for Sir Leslie Stephen’s books, which were obtained by Virginia after his death. Guerin said that to the best of his knowledge, it is now the most complete resource for searching the Woolfs’ substantial collection.

Guerin plans to make additions to the account, including a tagging system, reviews of publications written by Leonard and Virginia, and additional uploads of dust jackets published by the Hogarth Press.

A permanent link to this resource is included in the right sidebar. It is titled “Woolf Library” and is located  under the heading “Woolf Resources.”

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Wolfson College

Wolfson College

Leslie Stephen and his brother will be the topic at the next English Association’s series of Fellows’ events at Wolfson College, Oxford, on Saturday, June 22, at 2 p.m. Hermione Lee will speak on “Brotherly Biography.”

Beginning with Leslie Stephen’s life of his brother, James Fitzjames Stephen, the talk will explore the relationship between autobiography and biography when siblings write each others’ life stories.

Lee’s lecture will be followed by High Tea in the College Buttery.

Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, include admission plus High Tea. Prices range from £15 to £20.

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Emma Woolf

Emma Woolf

This round of Woolf sightings includes the sightings (16-19) of a live Woolf, Emma Woolf, the daughter of Leonard and Virginia’s nephew, Cecil Woolf and author Jean Moorcroft Wilson.

Her book, The Ministry of Thin: How the Pursuit of Perfection Got Out of Control, was published June 3. She is also the author of An Apple A Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery From Anorexia. Her eponymous column is published by The Times.

Emma wrote about her Great Aunt Virginia in a May 25 piece in The Mail in which she shares her father’s reminiscences about Virginia, along with quotes from letters, diaries and biographical material regarding her aunt’s illnesses and eating habits.

  1. Why Doesn’t Mrs. Dalloway Get a Day of Her Own?Slate Magazine
    This year, a handful of literary folk in London celebrated another modernist masterpiece, Virginia Woolf’s slender Mrs. Dalloway—which also takes place on a single day in June—by taking a walk around London. They walked “in the spirit of Bloomsday 
  2. 10 things we learned from the London 2014 menswear collections, The Guardian
    Meadham Kirchhoff’s collection, inspired in part by Virginia Woolf’s gender-blending novel Orlando, had twisted cute accessories – rubber carrier bags covered with brightly coloured felt animals – that will definitely have female fans too. Sharing a 
  3. Guess who’s coming to dinnerSouth China Morning Post
    In Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf devotes the entire book to describing a house party. In the 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the taboo subject of interracial marriage is dealt with at one of Hollywood’s most memorable suppers. Dinner parties 
  4. Virginia Woolf: The Charleston Bulletin SupplementsThe GuardianCharleston Bulletin Supplements
    In late 1923, Virginia Woolf was writing Mrs Dalloway. She had got to the “mad scene” in Regent’s Park; it was intense and disturbing work. But there were all sorts of other things going on in her life, and here is one of them: she was collaborating 
  5. Virginia Woolf and Quentin Bell’s Charleston Bulletin supplements – in picturesThe Guardian
    When the 13-year-old Quentin Bell asked his aunt, Virginia Woolf, to contribute to a magazine he was putting together for his family it was the beginning of a collaboration which lasted for five years. Take a look at some of the highlights from the 
  6. Couture presentsher Senior NovelMorning Sentinel
    These presentations are the culmination of intensive research and writing on a major English-language novel and are required of all senior English majors in order to satisfy degree requirements. Couture passed her presentation on Virginia Woolf’s
  7. Still a long way to go to full equalityThis is Nottingham
    But, as novelist Virginia Woolf told female undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge, having the vote was not enough. . To achieve equality, women needed both financial independence and “space”. This underlines the continuing tension hindering 
  8. Room of his own: Man caves thrive
    San Jose Mercury News
    Nearly a century ago, Virginia Woolf argued that a woman needed a room of her own. What would she say now that it’s men who are demanding more than a workbench in the corner of a cluttered garage? “Men are actively pursuing retreat spaces in their 
  9. Rare TS Eliot book under hammer
    Littlehampton Gazette
    The book was published by the Hogarth Press, a private press founded by Eliot’s friends Leonard andVirginia Woolf, with the type thought to be hand-set by Virginia. It is an edition of about 460 copies. It was donated to Oxfam by Colin Cohen who was 
  10. ‘I will not recommend this book to anyone, not even my enemies’: The Internet 
    New York Daily News (blog)
    Using Amazon and Goodreads as its sources, “Love Reading, Hate Books” aggregates one-star reviews of everyone from Virginia Woolf (“I really didn’t care if they made it to the lighthouse or not”) to Beowulf (“Did the ideas of holes in the plot never 
  11. Karen Russell: All fiction is autobiographical, Salon
    Those are the kinds of authors that Karen Russell admires (she cites Flannery O’Connor and Virginia Woolf among them), and it’s the kind of writer she happens to be. Russell has been hailed for her “original voice” ever since she published her first 
  12. Beat Generation brought to life in new showKent News
    Their last production was Because Of The Moon, a play about Virginia Woolf. The play focuses on the Beat Generation writers of the 1950s, including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, whose lifestyles and work was based on drugs, sex 
  13. Odd Type WritersHuffington Post
    As a young writer Virginia Woolf preferred to stand while she wrote. Her desk was three and a half feet tall. Quentin Bell, Woolf’s nephew, concluded that the habit was spurred by sibling rivalry. Woolf’s sister Vanessa was an artist who painted at an 
  14. A tale of ordinary madnessThe Independent
    My early heroines had been Sylvia Plath and her Bell Jar, Virginia Woolf before The Hours, andWinona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted. Their breakdowns were a rite of passage for the posh, liberal and bohemian. These were my poster-girls (and they were 
  15. Soldier’s HomeWall Street Journal
    Post-traumatic stress disorder, what was once known as shell shock or battle fatigue, has been memorably depicted in fiction—from Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” to William Wharton’s “Birdy” to Philip Caputo’s “Indian Country.” Yet because these 
  16. Room to writeWorld Magazine
    Virginia Woolf insisted that in order for a woman to write she needed money and a room of her own. So upon graduating from college, I set out to make a room of my own to write in. I chose an available space in the top of the family shed that had 
  17. What We’re ReadingNew York Times (blog)ministry of thin
    The Guardian: Virginia Woolf’s great-niece, a recovered anorexic, suggests that her aunt also had from the disease. This adds yet another layer of poignancy and complexity to a woman who once wrote, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one 
  18. Book News: Amazon’s Bubbles, Semicolon RapNew Yorker (blog)
    Virginia Woolf’s great-niece says that she believes her great-aunt suffered from anorexia. In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Leo Braudy on the new documentary “Plimpton! Starring George Plimptonas Himself” and Plimpton’s “tantalizing blend of 
  19. Virginia Woolf was anorexic, claims great nieceThe Guardian
    Virginia Woolf‘s great niece has suggested that her great aunt suffered from anorexia nervosa. Emma Woolf, who has written a memoir of her own recovery from the eating disorder, says she experienced a “painful moment of recognition” when she saw a 
  20. Did great-aunt Virginia Woolf have anorexia? Her great niece, a former Daily Mail
    However, it was during Virginia’s third breakdown in 1913, aged 31, less than a year after her marriage to the writer and publisher Leonard Woolf, that signs of anorexia become apparent: ‘The most difficult and distressing problem was to get Virginia 
  21. iHeart Locket Digitally Protects Your Girls’ DiaryTechlicious (blog)iheart-locket-300px
    From Virginia Woolf to DJ Tanner, keeping a diary has long been a rite of passage for girls. Now, a company named DanoToys is trying to bring the diary into the 21st century with the iHeart Locket, a Bluetooth-powered necklace that unlocks a journaling 
  22. Parallels and paradoxes in Israeli artist’s one-woman group showHaaretz
    In this part it is possible to see some of her most beautiful and important works, among them “The Circle by Virginia” (1975-1976), which refers to Virginia Woolf and appears in two versions (two-dimensional and three-dimensional), and the work 
  23. Review: Kate Tempest at Lyric 2013ForgeToday
    Tempest Kate Tempest is an act who truly encompasses what Lyric is all about; alternative and thoroughly modern. Tempest cites her key influences as including Virginia Woolf, William Blake and Wu-Tang Clan. A cacophony of literary references mixed with 
  24. Eat That, GalanosDrift | Perspective(s) in surfing
    Using Ernest Hemingway’s reflective line as a title and the words of Virginia Woolf and local surf pro Alan Stokes in voice over ‘EAT THAT, GALANOS’ peeks at man’s nocturnal relationship with the ocean and as surfing as an inconsequential by-product of 
  25. The Trials Of Radclyffe Hall by Diana Souhami – reviewThe GuardianThe-Trials-of-Radclyffe-Hall
    Hall’s novel The Well of Loneliness – a gloomy account of the struggles of a “congenital invert” that even sympathetic writers such as Virginia Woolf struggled to defend artistically – was put on trial under the Obscene Publications Act in 1928 
  26. Krista: Making a case for the classicsCincinnati.com
    Contemporary romance writer Debbie Macomber may fill two shelves while literary giant Virginia Woolfis, alas, still searching for some room of her own. Now, no one loves Dostoyevsky more than a library, and if you request a classic, it will be sent to 
  27. The Woman Upstairs, By Claire MessudThe Independent
    Nora finds inspiration in sharing a studio with her and begins working on a series of miniature rooms of iconic women artists on the edge – Emily Dickinson visited by “the angelic muse, her beloved death”,Virginia Woolf at Rodmell writing her suicide 
  28. Pierrot LunairHuffington Post
    Wayne’s Pierrot Lunaire assumes that the New York School that it constantly refers to is the center of everyone’s world: a world in which Susan Sontag and Virginia Woolf interact with Mae West, Patty Duke and Diana Vreeland through the lens of a newly 

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Jezebel calls out Vice‘s Women in Fiction issue for its distasteful fashion spread that features models reenacting the suicides of famoussuicide fashion female writers.

In the photos, the authors — including Virginia Woolf — are styled and posed to depict the times of their deaths. The title of the spread is “Last Words.”

vice

The online Vice article was to appear in this month’s fiction issue of the popular news and culture magazine, which is based in the US. But after an outcry from commentators and mental health groups, the company took the feature offline late yesterday afternoon and issued an apology, according to today’s Independent article.

Perfect storm of criticism

Other writers and bloggers responded disapprovingly as well. And the heavies weighed in with a full storm of criticism:

Thanks to Kaylee Baucom, English professor at the College of Southern Nevada for alerting Blogging Woolf to the original Woolf sighting.

A class on famous last words

In a related bit, ABC News reported on a class that analyzed some of history’s most famous last words, including those of Adolph Hitler, Virginia Woolf and Kurt Cobain.

The talk among academics

Finally, here are quotes from the discussion regarding the offending fashion spread and the 2002 film The Hours from the VWoolf Listserv:

“I’m just wondering of those who oppose this, are you equally offended by the portrayal of the same event in The Hours?”

“Apart from VW, the characters in The Hours were fictional, and VW’s death was decades ago, whereas Iris Chang’s family and loved ones probably are still very much processing their grief over her suicide. The image of her was breathtakingly insensitive and offensive to me for that reason.”

“It seems to me that there is a perhaps slight but nonetheless significant difference between the depiction of suicide in *The Hours* (film) and this project insofar as* The Hours *attempted to portray Woolf’s life and (perhaps to a lesser extent) her battle with mental issues before portraying her suicide whereas the Vice Magazine project shows readers only the moment of suicide itself. Although perhaps the Vice spread also contained some information about the authors and their lives? I would argue that neither work did a very good job of portraying mental illness (particularly not when it came to Woolf herself). Unless there was a significant written component to the Vice piece that I’m not aware of, it seems to me that the Vice Magazine project uses suicide as a jumping-off point for an exploration of aesthetics (if I were to be generous) or (if I were to be less generous) as a point of provocation rather than exploring the deep and complex health issues that led these authors to suicide.”

“There is no comparison. The VICE spread is using suicide to sell fashion and in doing so it glamorizes and aestheticizes female bodies in pain. It also takes our attention far away from the amazing work all of these women accomplished. You would think that in an issue announcing itself as covering Women’s Fiction that the work would be their concern. Whatever you want to say about Michael Cunningham and/or the film version of his novel The Hours, he isn’t guilty of promoting suicide to sell shoes and vintage attire!”

 

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This video offers a fascinating inside look at Charleston Farmhouse, also known as “Bloomsbury in the Country.”

It includes an interview with Virginia Nicholson — who calls the home “nicely messy” — and offers lovely views of the gardens and the countryside.

Nicholson is the author of Millions Like Us, Singled Out and Among the Bohemians and is the daughter of Virginia Woolf’s nephew and biographer Quentin Bell.

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