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Archive for the ‘25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf’ Category

The late Jane Marcus, a revered feminist scholar whose seminal work established Virginia Woolf as a major canonical writer, was honored Sept. 9 with a day-long event organized by her former students and dubbed Jane Marcus Feminist University.

The day included breakout workshops, plenary roundtables and a reception in Marcus’s honor with time for sharing reminiscences and memories. It was held at The Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

Topics included:

Jane Marcus memorial at the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries

  • Modernist Women Writers and Activists
  • The Spanish Civil War
  • Feminist Digital Pedagogy
  • Jane’s Scholarly Legacy
  • Jane’s Reading List

Speakers included:

  • Amanda Golden
  • Margaret Carson
  • Conor Tomás Reed
  • Cori L. Gabbard
  • J. Ashley Foster
  • Blanche Wiesen Cook
  • Jean Mills
  • Meena Alexander
  • Mary Ann Caws

For the full program and list of speakers, visit the event website.

According to Vara Neverow, who attended: “I felt very privileged to be able attend. Of the 50 or so people who came to the event, most were Jane Marcus’s former students or her long-term colleagues and friends in the world of scholarship and of them, many were Woolfians (and many of the Woolfians were members of the IVWS). Also attending the event were Michael Marcus, Jane’s husband, and Ben Marcus, her son. Her daughter, Lisa Marcus, was able to participate via a live feed. I wish that everyone who had known Jane, had met Jane even once or had been inspired by her work could have been able to attend.

“I was very glad to discover that Jean Mills is working directly with Michael Marcus on organizing and reviewing Jane’s unpublished work. Thus, we can hope that some of Jane’s scholarly endeavors will be published posthumously. Jane’s contributions to Woolf studies brought into focus the Virginia Woolf we know as a feminist, a pacifist, and a socialist. Jane’s scholarly impact was both immeasurable and invaluable,” Neverow added. 

She also provided these links:

Marcus, distinguished professor emerita at CUNY and author of so much ground-breaking scholarship on Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, feminism, modernism and other topics, died May 28, 2015, at the age of 76. At the time of her death and at the 2015 Woolf conference in Bloomsburg, Pa., scholars and students paid tribute to Marcus for her scholarship, her feminist integrity and the relationships she nurtured with students and colleagues.

Here’s an update posted today by organizer Ashley Foster:

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Conference organizers J. Ashley Foster, Cori Gabbard, and Conor Tomás Reed . Photo by Vara Neverow.

 

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The 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 7.51.18 PMBloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, June 4-7, was featured this fall on WVIA, the public television station serving northeastern Pennsylvania and the central Susquehanna Valley.

Watch the nine-minute video, “Connecting with Virginia Woolf,” at this link or at the link below:

http://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365611641

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The electronic version of Spring/Summer 2015 Virginia Woolf Miscellany is now available to view online or download and vw miscellany summer 15print, says Editor Vara Neverow.

Edited and with an introduction by Erica Delsandro, the issue includes fascinating essays on Woolf in the context of the 1930s, diverse articles and a review of the performance of Septimus and Clarissa from the Twenty Fifth Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf. A section of the issue is also devoted to heartfelt remembrances of Shari Benstock and Jane Marcus.

The issue also includes seven book reviews, important information about upcoming Woolf conferences, and information about various Woolf societies. The issue, as always, concludes with the Society Column, written this time by the International Virginia Woolf Society’s President, Kristin Czarnecki.

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On a long travel day home from the Woolf conference in Pennsylvania and a side-trip to Maine, I was fortunate to be able to passgornick the time with Vivian Gornick’s new memoir, The Odd Woman and the City, a gift from my friend in Maine.

I was taken by surprise when, about halfway through the book, Gornick diverts from her mostly personal musing with a lengthy passage that starts: “She was born Mary Britton Miller in New London, Connecticut, in 1883….” She goes on to state that Mary Miller lived in New York and wrote stories and poetry that went unnoticed. Then in 1946, at the age of 63, she published a novel, Do I Wake or Sleep, under the pen name Isabel Bolton. It was followed in 1949 and 1952 by The Christmas Tree and Many Mansions.

Her work was lauded by Diana Trilling in The Nation and Edmund Wilson in The New Yorker, who likened her modernist prose to Virginia Woolf’s. She nevertheless slipped into obscurity until the nineties, when the three novels were re-published as a trilogy, New York Mosaic. Yet she remains unknown today. She published two volumes of poetry, a memoir, and another novel before she died in 1975.

Gornick focuses on her own theme, the self and the city. In Do I Wake or Sleep, Millicent in New York — much like Clarissa Dalloway in London — observes: “What a strange, what a fantastic city … there was something here that one experienced nowhere else on earth.”

I was fascinated even before I learned about the comparison to Woolf. I found New York Mosaic at the public library and launched into it. Do I Wake or Sleep is Millicent’s interior voice over a 24-hour period — sound familiar?  The prose is stunning. Here’s a sentence from the first page:

There was, she thought, a magic, an enchantment — these myriad rainbow lights, now soft and low, now deeper, stronger — all the stops and chords and colors played like organ voluntaries, over the moon, the clouds, the grass.

I’m still reading, completely hooked. I’ve ordered the trilogy — I have to have it, a library copy just won’t do — along with her memoir. I’m off and running on what looks to be a fairly extensive research project and have had interest expressed in a profile I plan to write. Too bad I didn’t find her before the conference on Woolf’s Female Contemporaries!

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Ozlem and her Work

Ozlem displaying her work at the “Mark on the Wall” exhibition

It has been almost one month since the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, but I am still thinking about all of the great events and presentations from the conference.

One of the highlights from this year’s conference was the “Mark on the Wall” exhibition, which presented art work that was inspired by Virginia Woolf and her female contemporaries. Artists from around the world were represented, and I had the lucky opportunity to interview one of the artists whose work was selected for this exhibition.

Ozlem Habibe Mutaf Buyukarman is an assistant professor of graphic design at Yeditepe University in Turkey. After seeing her piece, “Do Not Call Me Anything IV” displayed at the “Mark on the Wall” exhibition, I asked her a few questions about her work:

In what ways do you think this piece connects with Virginia Woolf and/or the Modernist movement?

Ozlem: In my artwork “Do Not Call Me Anything IV”, you can see knee high stockings worn with trousers by a woman (who probably has a room of her own). The knee-high women’s stockings are a metaphorical expression of stepping forward. This is what modernist women writers and artists do I believe. Along with the stockings I placed labels/tags which stand for the prejudice against women. Thus, the name of the series is “Do Not Call Me Anything.” Also, in terms of style, this is not a decorative piece or an oil on canvas; it is based on experimental, instantaneous involvements of objects and textures presenting the drama of modern life with its consuming, exhausting and unstable condition. This differentiates it and makes it modern, I suppose.

“Do Not Call Me Anything IV”

Much of your work, including “Do Not Call Me Anything IV,” seems to put a focus on women’s clothing. In what ways does your work speak to and for women?

Ozlem: The clothing items are somehow the witnesses of our lives, our passions, our emotional commitments, the violence we faced to both physical and psychological in a modern, demanding world. They may symbolise the abandoned self or the avant-gardist… I present the aesthetics of personal items while documenting them, a moment of confrontation.

As a female artist, what kinds of struggles do you think that women artists face today?

Ozlem: Still many… women have to wear many hats at a time. And women writers or artists around the world are facing many struggles such as censorship, visibility and representational issues. Virginia Woolf inspired many women all around the world.

You can view Ozlem’s work and all of the exhibition selections in the “Mark on the Wall Online Catalogue”.

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art exhibit

Conference goers at The Mark on the Wall exhibit in Bloomsburg, Pa.

Artwork and the catalogue for the juried exhibition The Mark on the Wall, which was part of the the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, is now available for sale.

The catalogue, which is available at cost through Blurb as a print-on-demand item, presents the work of 47 artists from as far away as Dubai. The price is $37.49, plus shipping. The art work available for sale is unframed and will be shipped directly to buyers on June 30, when the show closes.

Eighty percent of the proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go to the artist, with 20 percent going to the Bloomsburg University scholarship fund.

If you are interested in purchasing a piece of art, contact conference organizers at woolf2015@bloomu.edu before June 30. After that, all unsold work will be returned to the artists.

The artists’ work, inspired by Woolf and her female contemporaries, was chosen from among more than 400. Four awards were given at the juried exhibition. Co-Best of Show Awards went to Erika Lizée and Carolyn Sheehan. Honorable mentions went to Mischa Brown, Chieko Murasugiand Jacqueline Dee Parker. See the full list of exhibitors.

Mark on the Wall catalogue screenshot

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I am reporting on the absolutely fabulous, amazing, and incredible 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf hosted by the brilliant and scintillating Julie Vandivere and her devoted co-conspirators, including the intrepid and undaunted Erica Delsandro as well as the ever-present, deeply wise and dedicated Megan Hicks and Emma Slotterback and everyone else who worked so hard to create something so memorable and durable — a conference that is a gift to marvel over and recall with great pleasure.

Cecil Woolf, Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Vara Neverow at #WoolfConf15

Cecil Woolf, Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Vara Neverow at #WoolfConf15

The conference was truly a work of art in every possible sense. It was as if every piece of the conference was curated and placed exactly where it was supposed to be. (And Thursday evening at the conference also included an actual and truly lovely art exhibit/art competition where attendees imbibed delicious beverages and snacked on heavenly hors d’oeuvres while chatting and mingling and looking at the works.)

Brilliant papers, panels, plenaries

The papers, panels and plenaries were all inspiring and dynamic and brilliant. The opening reception was gracious and intimate. Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson arrived at the conference on Thursday with numerous copies of Bloomsbury Heritage Series pamphlets.

Bloomsburg itself was beautiful, as was the university campus, and the restaurants in the town were delightful. The performance of Septimus and Clarissa, with the playwright, Ellen McLaughlin, taking the part of the older Clarissa, was stupendous, and Mrs. Dalloway’s Party, which followed the performance, offered an abundance of tasty tidbits as well as hilarious opportunities for the attendees to try on a variety of vintage hats, activities resulting in many, many photographs. The food at the conference was abundant and delicious. At one break, mounds of whipped cream, fresh strawberries and sponge cake were served.

And the banquet itself was nourishing for both the mind and body, a wonderful chance for creating new friendships and spending time with those one sees so rarely. Jean Moorcroft Wilson interviewed Cecil Woolf at the banquet in a wonderfully playful but also quite substantive fashion — one of the many high points of the conference. And, as always, the Virginia Woolf Players read from Woolf’s works as the closing event of the gathering.

BU undergrad panel 2

Ashley Michler, undergraduate at Bloomsburg University, presents her paper.

Bonding near and far

The shuttle bus to and from Newark gave Woolfians coming from afar a chance to bond with each other on the journey. And the weather was, of course, perfect.

To have so many Woolfians gathered in one place is always a peak moment of the year for me and, I am sure, for many others. To also have at the conference, in keeping with its inclusive title, so many scholars who study Woolf’s female contemporaries was a superb new feature and one that clearly will influence future research and create new connections among the various interwoven webs that connect Woolf to other modernists.

That there were so many new faces was particularly lovely. The newcomers ranged from the modernist scholars to the high-school students who presented their papers with aplomb and confidence and from the graduate students who had never before attended this conference to the common readers who are always most welcome to join the Woolfian pack. Rumor has it that the annual Woolf conference is the very best first conference for graduate students because it is the most nurturing, and I can’t say I was surprised. But this one was particularly open to a range of participants.

Jane Marcus memorial

Conference participants had the opportunity to add their written tribute to Jane Marcus in a special journal.

Reflections on two scholars

In addition to all the ebullient excitement of the conference, there was also a time of reflection. At the Thursday evening reception, Jane Marcus was remembered. Linda Camarasana, Mark Hussey, Jean Mills, J. Ashley Foster, and Suzette Henke all spoke and shared with those present their memories of a formidable and magnificent Woolfian who, among her many achievements as a teacher and a friend and a scholar was bold enough to challenge the conventional perception of Woolf as an aesthete and a mad woman and was among those scholars who brought Woolf’s work and her feminism, socialism and pacifism into focus in ways that will continue to endure. Jane Marcus’s landmark works include Art and Anger: Reading like a Woman and Virginia Woolf and the Languages of Patriarchy.

Also remembered at the conference with sorrow and gratitude was Shari Benstock, some of whose most familiar works are Women of the Left Bank, Paris 1900-1940, Textualizing the Feminine: On the Limits of Genre and the co-edited A Handbook of Literary Feminisms. These two women truly shaped the way we read Woolf and her contemporaries. I was very glad that both were acknowledged.

See the conference on social media

For those of you who weren’t at the conference and would want to “see” it, you should check the social media. There have been lots of postings on the conference’s Facebook page, on the Blogging Woolf Facebook page and on the International Virginia Woolf Society Facebook page, as well as on the Blogging Woolf website. You can also go online on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hashtag/woolfconf15 or with the app at #woolfconf15 to see comments about the conference.VW books

Share your recollections with The Miscellany

Finally, for those of you who want to share your remembrances of Jane Marcus and Shari Benstock, I encourage you to send me your recollections for The Virginia Woolf Miscellany. I will be compiling these contributions to a section of a future issue. Remembrances of all aspects of the conference itself are also very welcome.

I am deeply grateful to all those who worked so hard to make this unforgettable conference possible. This was a truly stellar labor of love, and one that will always be cherished by those who attended.

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