Archive for the ‘21st Annual Internation Conference on Virginia Woolf’ Category

Contradictory Woolf: Selected Papers from the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf is now available in both online and print versions.

Get the details and a PDF of the online version on the Clemson University Digital Press website.

Contradictory Woolf is a collection of 37 essays selected from approximately 200 papers presented at the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, hosted by the University of Glasgow June 9-12, 2011.

The essays explore the theme of contradiction in Woolf’s writing, including her use of the word “but,” in relation to auto/biography, art, philosophy, cognitive science, sexuality, animality, class, mathematics, translation, annotation, poetry and war.

Five  keynote addresses — by Judith Allen, Suzanne Bellamy, Marina Warner, Patricia Waugh and Michael Whitworth — are among the essays collected in this volume. It also includes a preface by Jane Goldman and an introduction by editors Derek Ryan and Stella Bolaki.

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Editor’s Note: This commentary and photo were contributed by Suzanne Bellamy who exhibited her painting, “Woolf and the Chaucer Horse,” at the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

"Woolf and the Chaucer Horse" by Suzanne Bellamy

The research

Researching illuminated manuscripts and Psalters opened the vision of the written page to the visual world that has always been there for me in Woolf as a reader. The page drips with image and interaction with other form, and as a writer of that tradition she embodies that now invisible world. Woolf says in ANON that the printing press ultimately took that rich layered other dimension away, but she is still soaked in it in her visual invocations, in her synaesthesic imagination.

The painting

I started working on the painting as I was reading the scholarship around Between The Acts, the late 1930s and Woolf’s last writings. Seeing her riding on Chaucer’s horse, as the Chaucer of her times, came visually first, then all else flowed from that. The Chaucerian trope of the stories wrapped within the journey infuses all Woolf’s work, as also in the essayistic form itself, street haunting being an expression of the pilgrim’s way.

The painting is as much an illuminated manuscript as a map… as a collage of layered memory, where everything happens and all at the same time, as in the novel. In harmony with the 1930s’ rural revivalism and sensitivity to possible loss of cultural heritage, the spirit of continuity is challenged by the threat from the planes and the coming war. But the land itself holds the dream of a common culture which is soaked in Nature and wild forms, animals birds, structures and sounds.

Some images swirled around in my head for weeks but never made it onto the canvas much as I tried to force the issue. The old wall and the ladder, the horse with the green tail, Sohrab the dog, the greenhouse, Mrs. Swithin’s hammer, and also Mrs. Swithin’s criss-cross letter (a term from ancient manuscripts), imps, elves, demons and mirrors, all the flowers, cars, the barn, the pub, the megaphone, Giles feeling chained to a rock, the white lady — those never made it but are in there somehow.

But the stegasaurus and the mammoth made it, and the fossils, the Roman roads, the planes, the pond, the house (taken from Vita Sackville-West’s book on English Country Houses), the cows, the Ouse and the map of the Sussex coast, and then the Celtic maze which held it all together. The maze, the Chaucerian horse, and the lines of the Prologue were the moments that gave it all a structure. The idea that words came from hearing birdsong drawn from the core of the maze holds the centre.

There are several examples of doubling and tripling images, as for example with the Uffington White Horse, the Guernica Horse and the Chaucer Horse. Also with the Circle of Birds and the formation of Lancaster Bombers over the English Channel, as contrary formations. The South Downs, the coastline, the map of Sussex, Lewes and Rodmell, the River Ouse and tributaries, prehistory, mastodons, cars and Roman roads, images improvised from medieval illuminated manuscripts. I used the Oxford Ellesmere text for the five lines of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Copying those five lines straight onto the canvas from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, from the online Oxford site of the Ellesmere text, was a deep thrill.

The exhibit

The painting, which measures two by four metres, was planned to act as a set canvas behind the pageant performance, but that proved to be technically impossible. In the end it hung in the Bute Hall below the stained glass windows, close to the window of Chaucer. The light streamed through the image of Woolf on her horse, the Chaucer of her times, and all was well.

More coverage of the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf on Blogging Woolf:


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If you presented a paper at the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, you have until Aug. 10 to submit it for consideration for the book of conference proceedings.

Papers should be sent as an e-mail attachment to the two editors for the project, Derek James Ryan at d.ryan.1@research.gla.ac.uk and co-editor Stella Bolaki at stella.bolaki@glasgow.ac.uk. Papers should follow MLA style.

Eight themed volumes from past conferences, including conferences 15 through 20, can be ordered or downloaded via the Clemson University Digital Press website.

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Two weeks ago, we shared some of Patrizia Muscogiuri’s photos from the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Contradictory Woolf in Glasgow, Scotland. Now we have more for you, thanks to conference organizer Derek James Ryan and photographer Graham Riach.

You can get to the links here or go straight to the photos, organized chronologically:

More conference coverage on Blogging Woolf:

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Cecil Woolf Publishers, 1 Mornington Place London NW1 7RP, UK Tel: 020 7387 2394 or +44 (0)20 7387 2394 from outside the UK, cecilwoolf@gmail.com

Each year at the Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Cecil Woolf Publishers introduce several new monographs in their Bloomsbury Heritage Series and distribute a new catalogue of their publications.

Here are the three new titles that debuted at the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, held June 9-12 at the University of Glasgow, and the two that were reissued:

  • Virginia Woof and the Thirties Poets by Emily Kopley
  • How Vita Matters by Mary Ann Caws
  • `I’d Make It Penal’, the Rural Preservation Movement in Virginia Woolf’s “Between the Acts” by Mark Hussey
  • Virginia Woolf, Life and London: Bloomsbury and Beyond by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, a revised reissue available in both paperback and casebound editions
  • Virginia Woolf: A to Z  by Mark Hussey, a reissue available in both paperback and casebound editions

Download Cecil Woolf Publishers Bloomsbury Heritage Series 2011 Catalogue and Order Form.

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Marina Warner and Jane Goldman, conference organizer

Jean Moorcroft Wilson

Vara Neverow and Patrizia Muscogiuri, who provided Blogging Woolf with these photos. More are posted on Flickr. See the Flickr feed in the right sidebar.

At left, Gill Lowe in the pageant skit written by Suzanne Bellamy, pictured at right

Derek Ryan, who played William in the pageant skit, was also one of the conference organizers.
Catherine Hollis, Lois Gilmore and Barbara Lonnquist

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Editor’s Note: The 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf ended yesterday. Vara Neverow, professor of English and women’s studies at Southern Connecticut State University and editor of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany,” attended the Glasgow event and shared her thoughts about it via the VWoolf Listserv and her Facebook page. She asked that Blogging Woolf share them here as well, and I do so gladly.

Jane Goldman, Bryony Randall, Derek Ryan and Rhian Williams organized a spectacular conference on Virginia Woolf. The 21st conference, held at the University of Glasgow, was amazing.

The conference was cram-packed with fabulous events, plenaries, performances, panels and invaluable opportunities to mingle with friends new and old. The attendees included numerous Woolfian devotees who had been to every annual conference and those who had never been to any conference before. There were internationally famous scholars, independent scholars and those who had just completed their undergraduate degrees. The registrants came from all over the globe and gathered in Glasgow for just four unforgettable days.

The setting of the conference was itself awe-inspiring. As we arrived, those who had never visited before were amazed by “all the domes, spires, turrets, and pinnacles of [the University of Glasgow],” to modify Virginia Woolf’s own words in Orlando. Hunter Halls, the vast space where the registration was located, along with the continental breakfasts and snacks and receptions, boasted leaded windows and stunning Corinthian pillars with gilded capitals.

Books and artwork for sale

There, publishers offered their coveted books at significant discounts (including the amazing price cut offered by Cambridge University Press). Stuart N. Clarke and Stephen Barkway of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain displayed VWSGB items as well as the Birthday Lectures pamphlets and an array of highly desirable volumes, including many from the Hogarth Press.

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson

Along with the Oxford and Edinburgh presses, so too Suzanne Bellamy exhibited her artwork for sale and Cecil Woolf and JeanMoorcroft Wilson (wearing, of course, her gorgeous gowns and robes in shades of purple or rose or iridescent green and embroidered or accented with peacock fabric from Liberty) displayed their wares—the Bloomsbury Heritage Series works—which included their most recent publications: Mark Hussey’s I’d Make It Penal’, the Rural Preservation Movement in Virginia Woolf’s `Between the Acts’, Emily Kopley’s Virginia Woof and the Thirties Poets and Mary Ann Caws’ How Vita Matters. Also on display was the newly minted edition of Mark Hussey’s invaluable Virginia Woolf: A to Z. Forms for joining the International Virginia Woolf Society were available as well.

Live on stage in Bute Hall

Bute Hall was the site where artist and Woolf scholar Suzanne Bellamy directed a pageant based on Miss LaTrobe’s event in Between the Acts. The performance included Jane Goldman as both Mrs. Manresa and Queenie D. Leavis, Krystyna Colburn as the Narrator and Mark Hussey as Reverend Streatfield. The audience, at Bellamy’s urging, provided mooing to replicate the cows’ voices in the novel. Bellamy’s massive canvas, which also drew on Between the Acts, was displayed in the space for the entire conference.

Bute Hall, where the plenary events and a number of panels were held, was architectural eye-candy too. An ornate space with lovely stained glass windows honoring men of letters (but, alas, no women), this was the site of the Friday evening production of Vanessa and Virginia, a play by Elizabeth Wright based on Susan Sellers’ novel of the same title.

Plenaries and panels: From politics to pedagogy and more

Among the other plenaries were Judith Allen’s “‘But . . . I had said ‘but too often.’ Why But?,” which investigated the politics of Woolf’s use of repetition primarily in A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas, and Michael Whitworth’s brilliant talk, “Woolf, Context, and Contradiction,” which addressed explored formalist, political and historical approaches of editing and annotating Woolf’s work.

Other plenaries included Kirsty Gunn’s “Sentence by Sentence: The Art of Making Fiction Real” and the roundtable “Queering Woolf and Pedagogy,” organized by Madelyn Detloff and featuring Erin Douglas, Kathryn Simpson and Nick Smart. On Sunday, there were two plenary events: “Confronting War: Approaches to the Contradictory Topics of War and Peace in Woolf’s Life and Work” (chaired by Karen Levenback and Jane Wood and featuring Eileen Barrett, Stuart N. Clarke, Lolly Ockerstrom and [in absentia], Vara Neverow) and David Bradshaw’s and Laura Marcus’s “Class Contradictions”

The thread of the contradictory was celebrated, not only in the presentations at the plenaries, but in the sheer multiplicities of panels. Reading through the program and trying to decide which panel to attend caused one to wish to possess surrogate selves and send them to several sessions simultaneously. The internal debate for each of the attendees no doubt sounded something like: “Yes, I’ll go to that one—oh, but, no, I have to hear that paper—on the other hand, perhaps….” And then, of course, there were seductive options unrelated to the conference itself like visiting the Charles Rennie Macintosh House.

Banquet in the City Chambers

The traditional culminating events were held on Saturday evening. This year, the event was two-fold: the reception (an event generously sponsored by the Glasgow City Council) and the subsequent dinner. Buses shuttled the attendees to the City Centre where we disembarked before yet another architecturally awesome building, the City Chambers. Cecil Woolf spoke at the beginning of the dinner, and the Virginia Woolf Players read from Woolf’s work at the end. Sated, the gathering of guests dissolved into small groups and returned to their hotels and hostels.

The following day, Woolfians met early before the panels began for a meeting regarding the 22ndConference: Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf, to be organized by Ann Martin at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. Through the day, there were farewells and hugs and partings. Some went to airports or train stations; some stayed on a few days and visited friends or explored Glasgow; some went on an adventure to the Isle of Skye. The conference was over.

“Dispersed [were] we” until another year.

Selected conference papers will be published by Clemson

One hopes that those who made the conference possible will be able to take a few short breaths before they fling themselves into other projects. The organizers of Contradictory Woolf deserve the deepest gratitude of all Woolfians—not just those who were able to attend but also those who could not, for all will—thanks to Wayne Chapman and Clemson University Digital Press—be able to read the selected papers of Contradictory Woolf in the conference volume (and by the way, the insert in the conference folder indicates that submissions should be sent to Derek Ryan d.ryan.1@research.gla.ac.uk and Stella Bolaki stella.bolaki@glasgow.ac.uk) by Aug. 10, 2011.

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