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Posts Tagged ‘Italian Virginia Woolf Society’

Stefano Rozzoni, a doctoral student at the University of Bergamo in Italy, at his first international Virginia Woolf conference, the 29th, held at Mount St. Joseph University, June 6-9 this year

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a new series of posts that will offer a global perspective on Woolf studies, as proposed by Stefano Rozzoni at the 29th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. If you would like to contribute to this series, please contact Blogging Woolf at bloggingwoolf@yahoo.com.

It has been a little more than four months since I attended the Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf for the first time. And it is more than a decade since I first read – as a nonconventional teenage boy with a peculiar inclination for theatre and the countryside, and definitely with no clear idea of what literature meant – the legendary opening line of what soon would become one of the most important books in my life: 

“Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

La Signora Dalloway

Perhaps it was the middle of August, since I vividly remember going to the library by bike, that I first asked my librarian for a copy of La Signora Dalloway – which is what we call the novel in Italy. At that time I read only a few pages before giving up the effort. It was a little confusing and difficult for me to get much meaning from those pages. Nevertheless, I did think that it was magnificently written. Also, I remember taking an oath: I would return to her works with a more mature perspective. I suppose that this was the moment when I fell in love with what was, at that time, a fascinating, a bit austere, an elegant, and above all, a nonconventional writer. 

A trio of conference attendees: Todd, Cecilia, and Michael

(It seems that outsiders get along with one another…) 

On that day I would have never, EVER, E-V-E-R thought that I would one day attend an extraordinary event such as the International Conference on Virginia Woolf. And not only one of the many, but the main reunion for Woolfian scholars who are spread all over the world. It was a very special moment, a gathering of great minds, creative researchers, and inspiring people…the kind of nonconventional (once again!) creatures you feel like you cannot do without once you have met them, and who actively contribute to making the world a better place.

A world full of Woolf readers and scholars

And when I say “the world” I am not just using one of those hyperbolic literary embellishments to sound more polite and somehow kinder than how one actually is. You do not need this façade with the Woolfians. You only need to be open and sincere, to not hesitate to show your passion, and to freely live your literary vocation. The rest follows.

During the conference one can really perceive that it is all about a generous, wide-spread community, which not only welcomes you in a surprisingly warmhearted way, but which also develops a closeness that results in an inspiring exchange of email, Facebook messages and pictures long after you have returned home. As international as this community is, it is not difficult to (unexpectedly) bump into some of its members in many other places around the world, especially during conferences. It has already happened twice to me in less then one month.

Perhaps these are the natural habitats of this valuable species, which, by the way, I would consider far from being endangered if you think that wherever you go, you can easily meet somebody going: “I love Virginia” / “Have you read The Waves?” / “I am totally a Bloomsberry!” / “Oh, Nicole Kidman, you know, the one playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours” (disclaimer: all these are original quotations that I have collected only in the last few weeks!). 

Conference participants lounge among the books at the Mercantile Library during a conference reception titled “Hours in a Library.”

The world may be big, but the Woolfian community is definitely bigger. And it was not Cincinnati which made me aware of this, for the geographical constraints of boot-shaped Italy did not prevent me from understanding how vivid the sense of belonging in this field is.

One can just look at the success of the Italian Virginia Woolf Society: despite being founded only two years ago, it has already reached more than 3,000 followers on social media, and it has organized countless sold-out events, including the first ever Italy-based Dallowday in the marvellous setting of Cappella Farnese in Bologna in June. I still remember the excitement of seeing some of the greatest and most inspiring homegrown super-stars related to Woolfian studies packed into one room. It was a real “room of her own” in which, in fact, I could not fit since there were too many people in it.

New guy in town

One thing that I have learned from this year’s conference, which I will treasure forever, is the idea that the “new guy” is to be respected and valued just like the hard-core members, whose meticulous and constant effort made the growth of the community possible. Hearing about the importance of supporting young generations of Woolfians (something I was told by several people who, in my eyes, were still very young and energetic – some rare qualities in academia!) was just one of those pats on the back that you do not often receive when taking the first steps in a new environment.

Hardworking Mount St. Joseph University students who were part of the Woolfpack that helped pull of this year’s conference

Similar to putting into practice the principles of inclusion, equality, and non-discrimination expressed in Virginia’s writing, this special Woolfpack (I owe this expression to the brilliant organizer of the conference, Drew Shannon, in reference to his talented students!) has offered me a real chance to experience a sense of hope in relation to the idea that, by committing to a daily praxis, you can act upon macropolitics, especially in relation to issues of social justice, which was the very focus of this year’s discussions.

It has been a little more than four months since the conference, but it seems to me that it is not over yet because the learning from one another, the taking and exchanging of ideas and suggestions, and above all, the chance to share our passion about literature is still ongoing.

And I bet that it will continue for a long time…

Comaraderie among a table full of Woolfians at the conference banquet

More Woolf scholars feast on food and conversation at this year’s conference banquet. At far left is organizer Drew Shannon.

Another table full of Woolfians at the conference banquet, including Kristin Czarnecki, president of the International Virginia Woolf Society, third from left.

More Woolf scholars and common readers with Stefano Rozzoni second from right.

A long shot of this year’s conference banquet, where novice and experienced Woolf scholars and common readers shared food, drink, and ideas.

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So far, here are the #DallowayDay events for this year:

  • On June 12th ‘a Wednesday in mid June’ Persephone Books, 59 Lamb’s Conduit St., London, will hold its annual Mrs. Dalloway Walk. It begins at 11 a.m. in Westminster. Lunch will be at the shop afterwards.
  • Join Waterstones and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain for the third annual celebration of Dalloway Day on Saturday, June 15, this year with the theme of “Queering.” Read more.
  • Italian Virginia Woolf Society Dalloway Day at Biblioteca Salaborsa, Bologna on June 15. Read more.
  • Royal Society of Literature events on Wednesday, June 19, include:
    • Walking with Mrs. Dalloway, 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the National Portrait Gallery
    • For There She Was: Love and Presence in Mrs Dalloway, 4 – 5 p.m., British Library Piazza Pavilion with renowned Woolf scholar Professor Dame Gillian Beer
    • RSL Members’ Book Group: A Room of My Own, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., British Library Knowledge Centre
    • After Woolf,  7– 8:30 p.m., British Library Knowledge Centre. Monica Ali, Olivia Laing and Elif Shafak discuss Woolf’s influence and the challenges of interpolating one of the 20th Century’s most significant writers in works inflected by their own lives.

Cecil at Persephone

Cecil Woolf pauses in front of Persephone Books, Lamb’s Conduit Street, London.

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Il Faro in una stanza

The 3rd edition of ‘Il Faro in una stanza,’ the Italian literary Festival on Virginia Woolf, will take place from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 November 2018 in the beautiful Frescos Room at the Municipal Library of Sesto San Giovanni,Milan.

Recycling Woolf Conference

The ItVWS announces the International conference ‘Recycling Woolf’ at the Université de Lorraine (Nancy) 27 – 29 June 2019. It is organized by IDEA, in collaboration with Institut des Textes et de Manuscrits Modernes, the Italian Virginia Woolf Society and the Société d’Etudes Woolfiennes.

A Whole Day for Her

Dalloway Day

See more Dalloway Day events.

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It’s official. Dalloway Day is the third Wednesday in June on both sides of the pond.

After years of discussion and advocacy for a day that gives Virginia Woolf’s Clarissa Dalloway equal weight with James Joyce’s Leopold Bloom, both the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and the International Virginia Woolf Society have designated the third Wednesday in June as #DallowayDay.

Finally, we have an officially recognized day for celebrating Clarissa Dalloway’s walk across London in Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway to “buy the flowers herself.”

This year it’s June 20

This year the third Wednesday falls on June 20, and events are already being planned on the official date and those surrounding it. Here are those we know about so far.

  • The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is getting together with Waterstones, as it did last year, to arrange a walk, discussion and talk on Saturday, June 16. It will be announced on the new VWSGB website and Facebook page, and by Waterstones as well.
  • Many members of the International Virginia Woolf Society will be together and on their way to Knole House and Sissinghurst Gardens for the pre-conference outing on June 20, the day before the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf begins. I imagine we will celebrate the day in some way and I welcome your ideas.
  • Places and Paces: Walking with Mrs. Dalloway, June 20, 4-5 p.m., at the British Library. Sponsored by the library and its Royal Society of Literature. Hermione Lee will discuss the novel’s walks and follow its paths into dreams, memories, and moments of revelation. Ticket prices range from £5 to £8 and can be booked online.
  • Dalloway Day with Sarah Churchwell, Alan Hollinghurst, Hermione Lee and Elaine Showalter, June 20, 7-8:30 p.m. at the British Library. Sponsored by the library and its Royal Society of Literature. The event will include a discussion on the significance of the novel and its effect on literary culture with Woolf’s biographer Lee; novelist Hollinghurst; literary critic Showalter, author of the seminal A Literature of their Own, and Churchwell, chair of public understanding in the humanities at the School of Advanced Study. Ticket prices range from £10 to £15 and can be booked online. Check out the RSL’s Dalloway Day page.
  • Monk’s House is holding an event on June 20, and the details will appear on the Monk’s House page of the National Trust website once they are settled.
  • The Italian Virginia Woolf Society is organizing an event dedicated to Woolf in June called “Una giornata tutta per lei” (A Day of Hers Own) on June 9 at the Casa Internazionale delle Donne, the International House of Women, the society’s home base.

Tell us about your #DallowayDay event

We urge you to add your own events in the comments section below or by sending an email to bloggingwoolf@yahoo.com, whether they are on the official date or another date. And please use the hashtag #DallowayDay in your social media posts so we can track them.

Watch out for The New Yorker

After June 20, keep your eyes out for The New Yorker magazine. A writer and editor for that publication has been in touch with Woolf societies and Blogging Woolf to discuss our plans for Dalloway Day. It turns out he is interested in traveling to England in time for Dalloway Day celebrations so he can cover it for the magazine.

His piece, if the idea is given the go-ahead, would appear in both the print and online editions, with photo coverage online. If so, this would make 2018 a banner year for dear Virginia — a Google Doodle and an official day of Clarissa’s own, covered in The New Yorker!

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Bloomsburiana, the first issue of the Annual Bulletin of the Italian Virginia Woolf Society, is out.

I was lucky enough to meet Elisa Bolchi and Sara Sullam, two members of the new society, at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf last June in Reading, England. The following month, Elisa, who is the society’s president, sent Blogging Woolf a report on what the group and its members — 84 at the time — were doing.

Recently, Elisa was kind enough to share the bulletin with Blogging Woolf, so we are sharing it with you here.  It is an attractive publication with original cover art by Lucrezia Gentile, and it is definitely worth a long look.

The society has a Facebook page, as well as a website, which society founders are working on making bilingual.

Elisa Bolchi and Sara Sullam, two members of the new Italian Virginia Woolf Society who attended last June’s Woolf conference in Reading, England. Elisa is the society’s president.

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Virginia Woolf readers and scholars from all over the world attended the Woolf conference in Reading, England, earlier this month — and two of them were from Italy, representing the new Italian Virginia Woolf Society.

I was happy to meet Elisa Bolchi, president of the new society, along with member Sara Sullam. And when I mentioned at the Saturday evening banquet that I would love to have one of the society’s lavender buttons, Elisa readily removed hers from her sweater and gave it to me. It is now one of my prized mementoes from the conference, particularly since I am of Italian heritage and will always be in love with Italia.

Here’s an update about the group provided by President Elisa Bolchi.

Elisa Bolchi and Sara Sullam, two members of the new Italian Virginia Woolf Society who attended this month’s Woolf conference in Reading, England. Elisa is the society’s president.

The Italian Virginia Woolf Society now has 84 members. We had our ‘vernissage’ event 13 June (Dalloway’s day!), in the garden of the International House of Women in Rome. The title was ‘Virginia Woolf: the sense of community’, and it was meant to introduce the aims of the Society. The speakers were the founding members: Nadia Fusini, Liliana Rampello, Iolanda Plescia and I.

We now have several events scheduled:

  • 5 October: we will be in Turin to present the Society. We are also planning four events in Turin related to this first presentation: three encounters dedicated to Woolf’s novels and one regarding her essays. We don’t have the dates set yet. We have been invited by the Readers’ Club of Turin.
  • 21 October: We’ll be in Bologna to speak of the “Current relevance of Woolf” in the beautiful conference room of the Salaborsa, the main public library in Bologna.
  • I’ll be also giving a PhD. lecture on the above topic in Perugia, at the end of October or the beginning of November (I don’t have the dates yet).
  • 24-26 November: 2nd edition of the Literary Festival “Il Faro in una stanza”, dedicated to Woolf.
  • For next Spring (probably March) we are planning our first conference, and the theme will be “Woolf and Community”.

Taking a group photo of Italian — and half-Italian — attendees at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf banquet was a must. It includes Sara Sullam, Patrizia Muscogiuri, Paula Maggio, and Elisa Bolchi.

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This just in: We now have an Italian Virginia Woolf Society. The society has a Facebook page, as well as a website, which society founders are working on making bilingual.

Iolanda Plescia and Valentina Mazzei outside the Antico Caffé Greco in Rome. We speculated that Woolf would have visited the popular spot for artists and intellectuals when she traveled to Rome in 1927.

Founding members are:

  • Elisa Bolchi – President
  • Nadia Fusini – Vice-president
  • Iolanda Plescia – Secretary.
  • Liliana Rampello – Counselor

I recognize one name on this list. I met Iolanda Plescia, a scholar of Woolf and Shakespeare, at my very first Woolf conference at Miami University of Ohio in 2007.

I saw her again when visiting Rome in 2010, and this time our meeting was planned. Together with sculptor Valentina Mazzei, we went on a Woolf pilgrimage of sorts. We visited the Spanish Steps as Woolf did and stopped in at the Hotel Hassler, at the top of the famous steps, where Woolf stayed during her 1927 visit to Rome. We then wandered to the Pantheon for a drink.

For more information about the society, contact info@itvws.it.

The three of us at Rome’s Hotel Hassler, at the top of the Spanish Steps. Woolf stayed there in 1927.

 

 

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