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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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Conference organizer Julie Vandivere and student intern Emma Slotterback

Conference organizer Julie Vandivere and student intern Emma Slotterback

I’d never heard of Bloomsburg University before Julie Vandivere volunteered to host the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at her home institution.

Now word of the charming campus and gracious town in which it is located has spread around the world, due to the way the town and the campus teamed up to embrace Woolf, the conference and each one of its nearly 250 participants from as far away as China.

Small-town charm

Welcome Woolf scholars

Just one of the signs welcoming Woolfians to Bloomsburg.

The town’s website boasts “small-town charm and down-home hospitality.” Those weren’t empty words. The town of 14,000 was blanketed with signs welcoming and directing conference goers. Conference events were spread throughout its perimeters. Community members participated in the events and graciously offered directions, greetings and other help. And high school students from the area’s three high schools, Bloomsburg, Berwick and Southern Columbia, had their own pre-conference panels.

The result? Two hundred and six presenters from 14 countries and five continents had the opportunity to fall in love with small town Bloomsburg, Pa., and its university community.

The play, the party, the exhibit, the readings, the banquet

Here are some highlights of the four-day event, Bloomsburg University’s first of an international stature:

    • A total of 68 events — from panels to roundtables to a printmaking workshop to a trip to Rickett’s Glen State Park for a hike and a picnic — with 206 presenters.
    • A powerful Friday evening performance of Ellen McLaughlin’s Septimus and Clarissa by the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. The ensemble had just one day to rehearse and they did a masterful job, with McLaughlin playing the role of the adult Clarissa. According to her, 60 percent of the words in the script were Woolf’s and 40 percent were her own.

      BTE Septimus and Clarissa

      On stage with “Septimus and Clarissa”

    • Mrs. Dalloway’s Party, an after-theater lark that allowed theater goers from the conference and the community to don hats and dress-up clothes and meet and mingle with each other as well as the players, the playwright — and conference guests of honor Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia, and Jean Moorcroft Wilson, biographer, literary critic and wife of Cecil Woolf.
    • A juried exhibition of works on paper titled The Mark on the Wall that presented the work of 47 artists from as far away as Dubai. Their work, inspired by Woolf and her female contemporaries, was chosen from among more than 400. Co-Best of Show Awards went to Erika Lizée and Carolyn Sheehan. Honorable mentions went to Mischa Brown, Chieko Murasugi and Jacqueline Dee Parker. See the full list of exhibitors. View the catalog to see the entire body of work in the exhibition that will be on display at the Gallery at Greenly Center through June 30. A catalog will be available for purchase on Blurb, as of June 9.
    • A memorial to Woolf scholar Professor Jane Marcus that was coordinated by members of the International Virginia Woolf Society and introduced by Erica Delsandro, co-organizer of the conference.
    • A poetry reading by Cynthia Hogue and a reading by Maggie Gee from her novel Virginia Woolf in Manhattan.
    • Saturday evening banquet where Woolf lovers celebrated her work, as well as their comaraderie, and were entertained by a charmingly humorous two-way conversation between Cecil Woolf and his wife Jean Moorcroft Wilson in which Woolf shared memories of Virginia and Leonard Woolf as well as other Bloomsbury Group members, including Bertrand Russell and Duncan Grant. Of course, the Virginia Woolf Players also made an appearance, with a troupe of Woolf scholars reading some of their favorite comical and serious passages from her work.

      Jeanne Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf

      Jeanne Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf

    • The introduction of six new books in the Bloomsbury Heritage Series from Cecil Woolf Publishers of London.

The roundtables

    • A roundtable on modernist theory with Celia Marshik, Judith Brown, Allison Pease and Emily Ridge during which the panelists and the audience engaged in a discussion of high and middlebrow modernism and how such studies could do more to include both well-known and lesser known women authors.
    • An introduction to launching a newly proposed journal, Feminist Modernist Studies, edited by Cassandra Laity and Anne Fernald, that will be published twice a year in both print and digital formats and will attempt to expand the modernist literary cannon to include more women by giving them space of their own.

So many panel choices

Each time slot in the conference program included a choice among four or five panels. That made choosing tough, as most times there were two or more panels I wanted to attend. Memorable presentations I attended included:

    • Anne Martin’s presentation on “Village Community and the Coming of War in the Final Novels of Virginia Woolf of and Dorothy L. Sayers,” which made me want to re-read Murder Must Advertise (1933) and Gaudy Night, (1935), as well as The Wimsey Papers.

      Celiese Lypka and Ann Martin

      Celiese Lypka and Ann Martin

    • Patricia Laurence on Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen and her comment on the “porous borders between poetry and prose” as well as the fact that Bowen was an agent for the Ministry of Information during the Great War.
    • Mark Hussey’s paper on Woolf and Rebecca West, in which he coined the term “modernist star system” and shared the fact that the proof version of A Room of One’s Own includes a two-page passage explicitly blaming women for reflecting men back to themselves as larger than they really are. Woolf makes the same point in the final published version but does so in brief. The passage appears after Woolf’s mention of West.
    • Elisa Kay Sparks’ tongue-in-cheek bar graphs on Woolf’s and Georgia O’Keeffe’s use of flowers in their work, with particular attention to – and entertaining visuals of – the calla lily.
    • Maria Aparecida de Oliveira’s fascinating paper on the correspondence between Woolf and Brazilian writer Victoria Ocampo (1893-1979). The two were introduced at Man Ray’s photo exhibit in London in 1934. After her presentation, Maria told me that the two women writers discussed fascism in their late 1930s letters.
    • Leslie Hankins’ slide show of illustrations that accompanied Woolf’s London Scene essays for the British Good Housekeeping, as well as the stories and graphics that surrounded them in the magazine’s layout.
    • Diane Gillespie’s discussion of Woolf’s rejection of novelists who pitched their books to the Hogarth Press, with a focus on Anne Tibble.

      Diane Gillespie

      Diane Gillespie

    • Eleanor McNee’s illumination of Woolf’s animosity towards her two High Anglican cousins, Dorothea and Rosamond Stephen.
    • A panel on “Woolf and the Political,” with Jean Mills advising that when one hears criticism of Woolf’s racism and classicism, one should “consider the diversity of her audience” and Mary Wilson saying we should “consider the servants as the contemporaries” of the writers we study.
    • On that same panel, Ashley Foster presented her original archival research that documents the Bloomsbury Group’s activism in war relief efforts, such as the Quaker relief effort in the Spanish Civil War. Woolf, for example, attended the Spain and Culture event in June 1937 in the Royal Albert Hall. She also sold her manuscript pages of Three Guineas to support relief efforts and lent her name to the fundraising efforts.
    • Emily Hinnov’s interesting comparison of the patriarchal fathers in Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Katherine Mansfield’s “The Daughters of the Late Colonel.”

      Emily Hinnov

      Emily Hinnov

    • Drew Shannon’s discussion of Woolf’s and Mansfield’s diaries. In his examination of the diaries on microfilm at the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, he learned that Woolf’s early diaries were more exercise books than traditional diaries, as she edited them greatly. Woolf used composition books for her diary, and beginning in 1920, Woolf consistently added a long rule on the left side of each page. To the left of that rule, she added the day’s date. Poignantly, Shannon found that Woolf had added the rule on each page of the 1941 diary. All of the pages are ruled, even though the pages after her March 28 death are blank. For readers of Mansfield, he recommended Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, complete edition, edited by Margaret Scott.
    • Karen Levenback brought Florence Melian Stawell to our attention, sharing her work as well as her connections to the Bloomsbury Group.
    • Vara Neverow explained sexual dysphoria in West’s Return of the Soldier, Mrs. Dalloway and the controversial Sylvia Townsend Warner’s “A Love Match.”
    • In a panel titled “Spies and Surveillance,” Mark David Kaufman, Judith Allen and Kimberly Engdahl Coates discussed Woolf and her contemporaries as whistleblowers, subversives and victims of surveillance.

      Sierra Altenbach and Cody Smeltz

      Sierra Altenbach and Cody Smeltz

    • Three undergrads from Bloomsbury University – Cody Smeltz, Sierra Altenbach and Ashley Michler — presented thoughtful papers on modernist masculinity and femininity in the work of H.D., Myna Loy, Emily Coleman and others.

Catch the conference photos

Many photos were taken at the conference and shared via Instagram. Here’s where you can view them:

Catch the conference tweets

Tweets about the conference are still coming in. Find them by searching the hashtag #WoolfConf15. The latest one is posted below, along with a tweet about one of the final panels of the conference.

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The juried Mark on the Wall exhibition at the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf presents artists from all over the world who have been inspired by Woolf and her female contemporaries.

The show of works on paper attracted woolf_callforentriesmore than 400 submissions, with 49 chosen for the exhibit, including Susie Lilly, a former women’s studies student of mine at the University of Akron, where she graduated with a degree in art.

The opening and awards presentation will be 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 4, at The Gallery at Greenly Center, 50 East Main St., Bloomsburg. The exhibit runs through June 30.

Those chosen are: TBettina Badr • Laura Bernstein • Mischa Brown • Deborah Bruns-Thomas • Dylan Collins • Laura Collins • Ozlem Habibe Mutaf Buyukarman • Maria DiMauro • Elaine M. Erne • Nicole Foran • Anita Ford • Leah Gallant • Lori Glavin • Stephanie Haughton • Craig Hill • Susie Lilley • Erika Lizée • Yvonne Love • Janet Maher • Jo Margolis • Marcella Marsella • Tonia Matthews • Alberto Meza • Chieko Murasugi • Jacqueline-Dee Parker • Frank Pulaski • Dana Scott • Carolyn Sheehan • David Thomas • Rhonda Thomas-Urdang • Maxene White • Jacqueline Young

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Editor’s Note: Emma Slotterback is a student at Bloomsburg University who is writing a series of articles for Blogging Woolf in advance of the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries, which will be held June 4-7 at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pa. This is the third article in the series.

By Emma Slotterback

Robin Callahan, Bloomsburg High School English teacher

Robin Callahan, Bloomsburg High School English teacher

As an aspiring high school teacher, I believe our involvement with the Bloomsburg Area High School and the Berwick Area High School is one of the most exciting relationships we have developed due to the conference. Continuing our effort towards building a new generation of Woolf scholars, we came up with another idea that would not only build connections within our town, but also encourage young people to read and write about Woolf.

We reached out to two local high schools and connected with two high school English teachers. We also collaborated with Dr. Michael Sherry who was previously an English professor at Bloomsburg University. Our goal was to extend an invitation to high school students to expand their knowledge on Woolf and develop papers that could be presented at the conference.

Megan Hicks, work study student

Megan Hicks, work study student

Both the teachers and the students were thrilled about this opportunity and began planning accordingly. We sent the teachers multiple lesson plans that could be used to teach Woolf and Dr. Sherry provided the students with copies of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. The students began reading and discussing the book and each student came up with his or her own paper proposal.

Similar to what we did with the undergraduates, we took the students’ papers and sorted them into panels. These panels are also going to run alongside scholarly panels. To prepare for this, work study students such as myself and Megan Hicks have taken multiple trips to the local Bloomsburg Area High School to work with these students. During these trips, Megan and I would discuss the conference and ease any public speaking related anxieties the students might have. During one of our visits, we formed two small group of students and each student practiced reading his or her paper out loud. Practicing gave Megan and me the opportunity to give the students constructive criticism and praise.

The high school students will be presenting on Thursday and will be encouraged to attend all of the conference related events on that day. Many students have expressed interest in attending manyhs3 scholarly panels. After reading and writing on Woolf for an entire semester, these students are extremely excited to connect their schoolwork with outside experience and be able to develop new ways of thinking after hearing the ideas of others. This aspect of the conference is providing young people with experiences that will further their love for modernism and Woolf, as well as paving the way for the future generation of Woolf scholars.

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Editor’s Note: Emma Slotterback is a student at Bloomsburg University who is writing a series of articles for Blogging Woolf in advance of the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries, which will be held June 4-7 at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pa. This is the first article in the series.

By Emma Slotterback  

Bloomsburg

Dr. Tina Entzminger, chair of the Bloomsburg University English Department, with a book discussion group at the Emporium.

The Bookstore and the Shops at the Emporium have long been a haven for Bloomsburg’s off-beat types. Walk in on a Saturday morning and you’ll find friends in flowing skirts discussing the latest local novel, university students grabbing a cup of coffee, and children riffling through shelves of kindly-used fantasy novels.

On Thursday evenings this March and April, the Bookstore was filled with a different sort of off-beat type: students and teachers of modernist literature. Bloomsburg University English Department chair Tina Entzminger, in coordination with the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, organized a series of lectures and discussions about Virginia Woolf and her female contemporaries.

Over cups of coffee, tea, and homemade malted milk balls, Bloomsburg faculty, students, and town residents discussed writers such as Djuna Barnes, Nella Larsen, Dorothy Richardson, Gertrude Stein, and of course Virginia Woolf herself. Guided by the knowledge of the English faculty, we discussed the larger questions posed by these women’s work: how should autobiography inform our interpretation of an artist’s work? Was Stein’s ego as large as Ernest Hemingway’s or was she poking fun? Is £500 and a room of one’s own really enough to become a self-actualized artist? Some discussions highlighted male and female inequality, while other discussions focused on queer theory and its implications within a certain story.Bloomsburg book group

By hosting these reading groups, we hoped to embody the spirit of Woolf’s idea of the “common reader,” appealing to both the scholar-critic and the lay reader in pursuit of the simple pleasure of reading. One of our most dedicated participants was a woman enrolled in adult literacy courses, who tested her new skills with challenging material. The connections formed in the Bookstore this spring demonstrate the ability of Virginia Woolf’s work to appeal to all readers.

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