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What: Free Talk: “Not Quite So Kind: Woolf and the limits of kindness”
Who: Anne E. Fernald, professor of English and Women’s Studies at Fordham University
When: Nov. 1, 1:30-4:30 p.m. Lunch at 1:30, talk at 2 p.m., refreshments at 3:30.
Where: Fordham London Centre, 2 Eyre Street Hill, London
How: Reserve free tickets.

Anne Fernald

On Woolf and kindness

In Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, kindness has its limits. When the shell-shocked veteran Septimus Warren Smith and his wife announce theirintention to seek a second opinion from Sir William Bradshaw, their doctor, Dr. Holmes turns on them with stunningly rapid bitterness “if they were rich… by all means let them go to Harley Street; if they had no confidence in him, said Dr. Holmes, looking not quite so kind” (84).

In Mrs. Dalloway and throughout her writing, Woolf explores both the limits of mere kindness and what it means to be of a kind, to be kin, stressing the common root of adjective and noun. This talk unpacks several of Woolf’s key uses of the word kind to explore how, in 2019, we might understand the complex interactions of social cues, intimacy, fondness, and mistrust in Woolf and how those stories continue to resonate today.

About Ann Fernald

A scholar of modernism with a special focus on Virginia Woolf, Fernald is the editor of the Cambridge University Press Mrs. Dalloway (2014), and one of the editors of The Norton Reader, a widely-used anthology of essays. She is the author of Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader (2006), as well as articles and reviews on Woolf and feminist modernism. She is a co-editor of the journal Modernism/modernity. She occasionally updates her blog, Fernham, and can be found on twitter @fernham.

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Painting of Virginia Woolf by Vanessa Bell currently displayed at Monk’s House

Here are the details of three talks on Virginia Woolf and her times, hosted by Literature Cambridge and Lucy Cavendish College during Michaelmas Term 2019.

Each is free and open to all, town and gown. Participants can buy lunch in the Lucy Cavendish dining hall from 12.30 pm before the talk.

What: Reading Ritual in The Waves (1931) with Ellie Mitchell, ADC Theatre, Cambridge
When: Tuesday 15 October, 1 p.m.
Venue: Founders’ Room, Lucy Cavendish College, Lady Margaret Road, Cambridge.

The Waves was variously described by Woolf as a ‘playpoem’, a ‘mystical poetical novel’ and ‘something struggled for’. This talk reads the novel in the light of Woolf’s interest in the anthropologist Jane Harrison’s theories of classical culture, art and ritual.

What: Professor Dame Gillian Beer, Clare Hall, Cambridge, on Modernist Alice.
When: Tuesday 5 November, 1 p.m.:
Venue: Wolfson Room, Lucy Cavendish College, Lady Margaret Road, Cambridge.

The Alice books transform from age to age and place to place. In the period of Modernism in Britain and Surrealism in Europe, they took devious and different directions. The talk will be illustrated with writing and images drawn from Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Walter de la Mare, Arthur Eddington, Vladimir Nabokov, Andre Breton, and others.

What: All-day reading of The Waves
When: Sunday 27 October, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with regular refreshment breaks. Come for part of the day or the entire day — your choice.
Venue: Thomas Gray Room, Pembroke College. Free, but please book if possible via Eventbrite

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What: Call for Papers for the 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Profession and Performance

When: June 11–14, 2020

Where: University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD, U.S.A.

Twitter: @vwoolf2020

“Profession and Performance,” the theme of the 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, calls to mind not only Woolf’s sense of herself as a writer (her profession) but also the set of specialized occupations she takes up in A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938), areas of study and livelihoods traditionally reserved for the sons of educated men.

It also invokes the conference’s commitment over the past three decades to the arts, to theater, to music, to the spoken word, and to the resonances of these media with the performance/performativity of Woolf’s life and writing.

“Profession and Performance” might also encourage us to reflect on the conference’s rich history and to consider the ways in which the professions of those who support and attend the conference might be changing. As an event open to all scholars, students, and common readers of Woolf and Woolfian connections, we encourage 2020 participants to sound and explore echoes of past professions and performances in our present ones.

Possible topics

The 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf invites papers addressing these issues as well as other topics addressing “Profession and Performance,” including, but not limited to:

  • contemporary adaptations of Woolf, her circles, or her work on stage / screen (e.g., Vita and Virginia; Life in Squares; etc.)
  •  the dynamic link between Woolf’s social critique (what she professed) and her art (its performance)
  • the rich archive of scholarship that brings together studies of the avant-garde, modernism, and the middlebrow
  • intersections of modernist studies and performance studies
  • modernism’s role in the professionalization of literature and criticism
  • the livelihoods and lifestyles of Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group
  • investigations of identity and community
  • Woolfian meditations on professions (i.e., on occupations, commitments, allegiances, and declarations)
  • interpretations of Woolf-inspired performance art (e.g., music, dance, theater)
  • profession as (public) performance
  • questions of affect and attachment
  • strong and weak performances / professions / modernisms
  • reflections on the selves and the worlds we profess / perform in daily life, in politics, in ethics, in institutions, and in ongoing efforts to teach and learn
  • the performative life of professionalization (or the subversion of professionalization)
  • life-writing as performance of self, professionalization of self
  • gendered performances / performances of gender (on stage / page, in life)
  • professions for women (history of, literary treatments of, performances of)
  • Woolf and developments in medical sciences and psychology
  • teaching Woolf / Woolf as Teacher
  • performing Bloomsbury / performative Bloomsberries
  • the life of the feminist academic; the professionalization and/or institutionalization of feminism outside of academia

Proposal parameters

Abstracts of maximum 250 words for single papers and 500 words for panels should be sent to Virginia.Woolf@usd.edu by Feb. 1st, 2020. In addition to traditional presentations, organizers encourage proposals for workshops (such as bookmaking, translation, publishing, forming writing groups, etc.) and proposals for roundtable or group discussions (such as feminist / queer perspectives, Woolfian pedagogy, staging / performing Woolf, etc.).

For accepted proposals, we ask well ahead of time that presenters bring access copies of their presentations to their panels.

Non-English presentations welcome

The conference welcomes proposals for presentations in languages other than English to foster a more open exchange at this international conference.

A few caveats: the organizers ask that all abstracts and proposals be submitted in English. Also, to ensure a more effective exchange among all participants, we ask that non-English presentations be accompanied by a handout of main points in English as well as (if possible) a PowerPoint presentation in English. Note that Q&A sessions will be conducted in English as well.

For more information

More information about the 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf will be made available in the coming months. Contact conference organizer Benjamin Hagen, at Benjamin.Hagen@usd.edu, with questionsCall for papers for 2020 Woolf conference: Profession and Performance.

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Ethel Smyth: Grasp the Nettle concert poster spotted in Cambridge last month.

Professional contralto and actress Lucy Stevens has developed a new show, Ethel Smyth: Grasp the Nettle, to coincide with and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, the decisive step in the political emancipation of women in the UK getting the vote.

The concert will be staged Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Stapleford Granary. Tickets are £15 for general admission and £8 for those under 16.

About Ethel Smyth

Dame Ethel Smyth, a friend and frequent correspondent of Virginia Woolf and a political activist and composer, was imprisoned in Holloway Prison with Sylvia Pankhurst. As a composer, she wrote the anthem for the suffrage movement “The March of the Women” as well as six operas and many chamber, orchestral, and vocal works.  As an author she published ten books.

In 1902 Ethel Smyth was the first female composer to have an opera performed at Covent Garden and, in 1903, she was the first female composer to have an opera performed at The Metropolitan Opera House in New York. The next opera by a female composer to be performed at Covent Garden was in 2012 and at The Met in 2016.

About the concert

Grasp The Nettle weaves her music, songs and greatest opera, “The Wreckers,” with her battle for an equal voice.It is Illuminated with anecdotes from her confidants, her letters and her own writing “…which is peculiarly beautiful and all of it rippling with life” (Maurice Baring).

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Fall Events

What: Study Day on Reading The Waves
When: Saturday 21 September 2019
Where: Stapleford Granary
Cost: £90/£80 students and Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain members.

What: Ellie Mitchell, Talk on Reading Ritual in The Waves
When: Tuesday 15 October 2019
Where: Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge
Cost: Free talks for Town and Gown

What: All-day reading of The Waves
When: Sun. 27 October 2019
Where: Cambridge
Cost: Free but places are limited. Email info@literaturecambridge.co.uk if you would like to attend.

Summer 2020 Courses

Virginia Woolf’s Women, 19-24 July 2020. An intensive week of lectures, seminars, tutorials, walks, talks, and visits to places of interest in Cambridge.

Reading the 1920s, 26-31 July 2020. An intensive study week on literature from the decade following the First World War. Authors include T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Lawrence, Woolf, Radclyffe Hall, Helen Zenna Smith, Edmund Blunden.

Discount for early bookings. Members of the VWSGB can book at the student rate, subject to availability.

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Chanya Button’s new film Vita And Virginia will be shown at 8:15 p.m July 30 at the Barn Cinema, Dartington Hall, Devon, followed by a post-screening discussion of the film with Dr. Kirsty Martin, senior lecturer in English Literature at the University of Exeter.

The discussion will consider how Chanya Button’s film portrays the two main characters and their relationship, in connection with Kirsty’s own research into Virginia Woolf, as seen in her first book, Modernism and the Rhythms of Sympathy.

Dartington and the Bloomsbury group

The event will also provide an opportunity for attendees to learn more about Dartington’s connections with the Bloomsbury group, and the founders of the Dartington experiment, Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst, and the Arts department there.

The Q&A will be hosted by The Dartington Hall Trust’s Arts Correspondent, William Kemp, who before joining Dartington worked at Charleston in Sussex, the home of Bloomsbury Group artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

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I’m all settled in to my spacious and comfy room of my own at Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge.

I took the train up from London a day earlier than necessary for the Literature Cambridge course on Virginia Woolf’s Gardens.

That means we had a bit of time to explore a small parcel of Cambridge, enjoy a lovely tea at Harriets Cafe and Tea Rooms, check in and collect our welcome packets from Trudi Tate and her crew, and — in typical American fashion — load up on some Cambridge swag.

King’s Parade in Cambridge is jammed with tourists, shoppers, and Cambridge folks on Sunday. We were among them.
Trudi Tate and Rosa welcome Bee, a UK student and one of 23 in the Virginia Woolf’s Gardens course at Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge.
Students, including Yuriko, found a table full of Literature Cambridge T-shirts. I bought a red one from Rosa.
Suellen from the U.S. and Hans from the Netherlands take part in a Woolf-related conversation at Literature Cambridge check-in.
Cambridge, Wolfson, and Lit Cambridge T-shirts. I had to have all three.
The Classic Tea at Harrietts Cafe and Tearoom. The house blend is delicious.
View from my room of my own in the Conference Center at Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge.

 

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