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Georgia Johnston (second from left) shared her insights with the Woolf community at the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Leeds Trinity University in Yorkshire, England last June.

The Virginia Woolf community is mourning the loss of Woolf scholar and friend Georgia Johnston, a professor of English at St. Louis University, who passed away March 20.

Georgia studied the cultures and literature of the early twentieth century. She was particularly interested in Modernist autobiography in terms of sexual theories of the period.

Her 2007 book, The Formation of 20th-century Queer Autobiography, shows how autobiographical forms intersect with theories of desire. Her current book project, which was in progress at her death, was titled Modernism’s Civilizations. It focused on the moment when evolutionary deviancy cannot provide an adequate binary opposition for the meaning of civilization, with resulting changes in textuality, genre, and subjectivities.

She organized and hosted the 1998 Woolf Conference at Saint Louis University.

Memorial service and condolences

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. this Saturday, March 25, at Trinity Episcopal, 600 N. Euclid St., in St. Louis.

Condolences can be sent to Georgia’s brother, Bill Johnston, care of the English Department, Saint Louis University, 3800 Lindell Blvd., Adorjan Hall Rm. 127, St. Louis, MO 63108.

Obituary

Dr. Georgia K. Johnston, Ph.D., 58, passed away Monday March 20, 2017, after a long battle with cancer. She is the daughter of Arthur Johnston (deceased) and Patricia Johnston, and is survived by her mother; her sister, Margaret Ohlenschlaeger, her niece Ellie Sigers and her husband Matthew, her grandnephews,  Noah and Owen, and grandniece Emily, nephews Zack Overton, Andrew Overton, and Thomas Ohlenschlaeger; her brother, William (Bill) W. Johnston, his wife Susan, niece Katie Johnston; her sister, Elizabeth (Liz) Johnston Arbittier, her husband Douglas, nieces and nephews, Bonnie Arbittier,  Jacob Arbittier,  Rosie Arbittier, and Jonathan Arbittier.  She is also survived by her long time companion Paige Canfield, and many dear friends.

Georgia was a respected professor and scholar at St. Louis University where she taught for over 25 years.  She loved, among other things, poetry, dancing, and trees.

In honor of her memory, donations may be given to the Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203-1606.

Memories from friends and colleagues

We share remembrances posted by friends and colleagues via the VWoolf Listserv, as well as one from an SLU colleague that was sent to her academic community.

From Toby Benis, English Department chair, SLU:

Georgia Johnston came to SLU in 1992 after graduating with a doctorate in British literature from Rutgers University in New Jersey. She was an internationally recognized scholar of modern British literature, specializing in the intersections between women’s writing, psychoanalysis, and constructions of gender.

In addition to her work on behalf of the Department of English, Georgia was a tireless advocate for Women’s and Gender Studies at SLU.  She served as the Women’s Studies Program’s director for two years, and mentored many undergraduate and graduate students engaged in the study of gender and literature.

Georgia was an exceptional teacher, completely committed to her students and to the subjects she taught with passion and intelligence.  She was a particularly effective mentor for English graduate students.  She was recognized by the department’s graduate students five years ago when she received the student award for Outstanding Faculty Mentor.

Georgia has served the University in many other capacities as well, including Interim English Department Chair in 1999, and most recently, Coordinator of Graduate Studies in English. She will be much missed by the English Department, the University, and her many students.

From Kimberly Coates, associate professor of English, Bowling Green State University:

Georgia was a generous scholar and colleague and a beautiful, gentle, warm human being. She was interested, as Gill has said, in everyone. And where you taught, who you were, what you had or had not done never mattered to her. She was always, always warm and welcoming.

From Gill Lowe, course leader, English, University of Suffollk:

Terrible news. Georgia was such a steady, thoughtful and generous person. She was interested in everyone and wrote so beautifully. I think of her as calm, composed and without egotism. I also recall her dry sense of humour. Such a shocking premature loss.

From Maggie Humm, emeritus professor of cultural studies, University of East London:

Such appalling news. Georgia was wonderfully supportive and kind to me (and others). Another great Woolf scholar no longer with us.

From Anne Fernald, associate professor of English, Fordham University:

I am so sad to know this news. Georgia wrote an early and important chapter on Woolf’s essays that helped me conceive of my dissertation and which I re-read many times in the process of working on Woolf’s essays. I am still grateful and humbled by her grace and generosity when we met, decades ago. She treated me like a person who mattered when I was very young, unpublished, and feeling shaky. As many have said here, her kindness, care, and warmth were profound. She was a lovely woman. Very sad indeed that her life ended too soon.

From Bonnie Kime Scott, professor emeritus, University of Delaware:

Such a good spirit and fine scholar.  Remember the orphaned cat found at the end of the St. Louis Woolf Conference?  Of course it got to live out its life with her!

From Karen Levenback:

Shocking news.  I join everyone who knew Georgia in quiet and personal grief,  I remember her VWS Conference in St. Louis–the weather was awful–so much rain–so many flights cancelled or postponed.  And she was admirably focused and unfazed by it all.  She will be missed by us all.

From Jane Garrity, associate professor of English, University of Colorado at Boulder:

She was such a gracious colleague over the years and she and I often talked about ways to broaden the visibility of literature by women modernists. She conceived of a possible annual conference on early 20th-century women writers, which she thought should be held at Saint Louis University in 2017 but then she got too sick to follow through on this fine idea.

From Vara Neverow, associate professor of English, Southern Connecticut State University:

At Georgia’s 1998 St. Louis conference, it was my friend June Dunn who rescued the kitten mentioned a number of times in the remembrances, further cementing my sense of connection with Georgia, though we did not talk very often.

The remembrances of Georgia that have been posted are so accurate, so vivid. They evoke her so beautifully.

Georgia was gracious and gentle, kind and witty, and always, always deeply wise. She was also wonderfully graceful. The angle of her head, her slow gestures, her smile, her elegantly subtle scarves, all glimmer brightly in my memories of her. Of particular intensity is my recollection of her calm and fearless way of coping with the cancer as if it were just a minor obstacle, a mere hindrance, a distraction which she seemingly confronted calmly and fearlessly in its various manifestations over the years.

I first met Georgia in 1992 in New Haven at the second annual conference on Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf: Themes and Variations, the conference I had organized with Mark Hussey, Patricia Morgne and my then-graduate student Donna Risolo. I still remember the joy of talking to Georgia for the first time right at the end of the conference.

At Georgia’s 1998 St. Louis conference, it was my friend June Dunn who rescued the kitten mentioned a number of times in the remembrances, further cementing my sense of connection with Georgia, though we did not talk very often.

The last time I saw Georgia was in Leeds at the 26th Woolf conference, Woolf and Heritage, where I was privileged to chair the panel on which Georgia presented her brilliant paper, “The Aesthetic Heritage of the Outsider.” Erin Penner (whose paper was “The Curse of War”) was the only other participant on our two-person panel. It was truly a great blessing to have only the two presenters. We had a good number of attendees and were able to have longer presentations, a very relaxed conversational experience and a really rewarding exchange of ideas. Indeed, the panel lasted beyond the full hour and a half. I am very deeply grateful that I was assigned to chair that panel especially since I was able to spend time with Georgia both before and after the session.

It breaks my heart to know that I will never see Georgia again, and truly I cannot believe it.

Tributes on social media

On Facebook, 47 friends posted comments and photos on Georgia’s timeline. Here are screenshots of a few that show some of the many sides of Georgia.

And from Woolf herself

We conclude with a quote from Woolf herself, shared by Kimberly Coates, who this week is teaching The Waves to an undergraduate class.

But for pain words are lacking. There should be cries, cracks, fissures, whiteness passing over chintz covers, interference with the sense of time, of space; the sense also of extreme fixity in passing objects; and sounds very remote and then very close; flesh being gashed and blood spurting, a joint suddenly twisted beneath all of which appears something very important, yet remote, to be just held in solitude – Virginia Woolf, The Waves, P. 195

Georgia Johnston (second from right) dutifully attending a business meeting of the International Virginia Woolf Society during the Leeds conference last June.

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susan sellers

Susan Seller

Susan Sellers will present “Virginia Woolf and the Essay” Wednesday, April 26, at 1 p.m. as part of the Virginia Woolf Talks, Cambridge, presented by Literature Cambridge and Lucy Cavendish College.

The talk will be held at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. It is free and open to all, town and gown. Enquiries: tt206@cam.ac.uk

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When I first learned, through one of Paula Maggios’s tweets, about the Virginia Woolf inspired art exhibit in Las Vegas, I shifted my calendar around so that I could visit the gallery as soon as possible. I then learned that two of my colleagues from the College of Southern Nevada are a part of the community of women whose work is on display at the Left of Center Art Gallery as part of the “A Room of One’s Own” All Women’s Art Exhibit, and so I went to the gallery immediately!

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The gallery provides a space for women artists to create, discuss, and display their art. This specific exhibit features both literary and visual art pieces. Some of the pieces directly reference Woolf, such as the piece “Freedom” by Yvette Mangual, which quotes “A Room of One’s Own”:

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“Freedom” by Yvette Mangual

Some pieces seemed to allude to Woolf’s misty, Modernist aesthetic, such as Elizabeth Blau-Ogilvie’s gorgeous piece, “Glacial Pour” which gave me visions of James’s, Cam’s and Mr. Ramsay’s final boat ride in To the Lighthouse:

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“Glacial Pour” by Elizabeth Blau-Ogilvie

Dr. Karen Laing and Professor Erica Vital-Lazare are two of the 26 women artists whose works are on display in the Woolf inspired exhibit. After an inspired visit to the gallery, I interviewed Karen and Erica to learn about the ways that Virginia Woolf has inspired them as artists, and to gather their views on being woman artists.

Karen Laing is an activist and artist who teaches English composition and literature at the College of Southern Nevada. My interview with Karen is featured below:

Karen, your poem, “Thanks Sharon” reflects on oppression and resistance. In what ways does your work speak to and for women?

Among my deepest desires for the contribution my work makes in the never-ending conversation about what it means to be human is the hope that women locate ourselves in the center of every discussion, armed with a voice as authentic and indispensable to the outcomes present and prophetic as it is sufficient to the challenges reality places before us. I hope my life and art unleash the initiative of the creator within us so that we create a world worthy of our best and healing of our worst.

Karen, in what ways has Virginia Woolf’s work influenced you? 

Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own inspired me to create spaces in which I could listen for and attend to my heart’s desires. It soon became apparent that for this to be more consistently and sustainably possible, I would need to encourage others to find and forge similar spaces and permissions of their own.

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“Future Primitive” on display at the Left of Center Gallery by artist Lolita Develay.

Erica Vital-Lazare teaches creative writing at the College of Southern Nevada where she is the editor-in-chief of the Red Rock Review literary journal. Our interview is located below:

Erica, you work as a Professor, artist, and editor within the Las Vegas community, so you have a unique view of women artists in Sin City. In what ways do you think that Woolf’s ideas in “A Room of One’s Own” connect to today’s women artists?

In 1929 when Woolf was asked to write about women who write, she raised the artful and sanctioned notables—the pluck of Jane Austen and the blunt-edged realism of George Eliot with the intent of taking the discussion further than those points of comfort to address the gap between woman-art and its creation and recognition. The gap she addresses is parity. The bridge she dares to construct deconstructs. In a time when women are chattel she makes public the keys to artistic freedom when she says a woman must have these things of her own: her own money and her own space within the canon. Agency. Nearly 90 years after Woolf penned “A Room of One’s Own”, women-artists build their own, even though sometimes it just might mean they must first burn down a few houses.

In what ways has Virginia Woolf’s work influenced your own writing?

Virginia Woolf’s fearlessness as a woman-artist in an era when capitulating and cowing under the weight of gender was so deeply embedded in the culture that furniture was specifically designed and appointed in the homes of finer society to catch our feinting and fainting-fragile selves is a wonder and an inspiration to me.  I know many women writers in many genres who think of her and the essay as they carve out space for themselves.

If you are in the Las Vegas area, I highly recommend making a trip to the Left of Center Gallery to enjoy some moving art, as well as to support women artists. The exhibit is free and will continue until March 31. Read more about the exhibit here.

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Happy birthday to Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia Woolf and the dearest of friends, who is 90 today — and still runs Cecil Woolf Publishers, a small London publishing house in the tradition of the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press.

Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, London, where Virginia lived from 1905-1907

Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, London, where Virginia lived from 1905-1907.

As the oldest living relative of Virginia and Leonard, Cecil attends annual Woolf conferences as often as he can, where he displays his most recent volumes in the Bloomsbury Heritage series. He is often featured as a speaker at those events. And the reminiscences about his famous aunt and uncle and the time he spent with them are treasured by conference-goers.

At the last Woolf conference, Cecil gave me a personal tour of Bloomsbury. At the Woolf conference in New York City in 2009, he was interviewed by The Rumpus.

Cecil is also often called upon to assist at ceremonies honoring his Uncle Leonard. In 2014, he planted a Gingko biloba tree in Tavistock Square garden to commemorate the centennial of the arrival of his uncle Leonard in Colombo, Ceylon. In 2014, he spoke at the unveiling of a Blue Plaque commemorating his uncle’s 1912 marriage proposal to Virginia at Frome Station.

I only wish I could be in London to celebrate this milestone birthday with Cecil and his wife, Jean Moorcroft Wilson, and the rest of their family. Cecil tells me the official family celebration will take place  Saturday, Feb. 25.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf on stage at the 2016 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Leeds Trinity University.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf on stage at the 2016 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Leeds Trinity University.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf with their display of Bloomsbury Heritage monographs at the 2016 Woolf conference

Scholar and author Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf with their display of Bloomsbury Heritage monographs at the 2016 Woolf conference.

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Inspired by previous Blogging Woolf post Tea at the Morton, here’s what it’s like to spend the night at the Morton Hotel in London’s Bloomsbury.

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Opposite leafy Russell Square the Morton Hotel curves around the corner of Woburn Place. Ideally placed to explore Bloomsbury, this hotel manages to embrace the iconic Bloomsbury group style without becoming a caricature. The fluid touches of Vanessa Bell inspired textiles and prints add style and idiosyncrasy to the classic greys and dark wooden furniture. Indeed, as many homes of the Bloomsbury group mixed classic family heirlooms with bright fresh colour palettes, so too does this newly renovated hotel blend the Bloomsbury aesthetic with classic and comfortable chic.

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From the Library to Bedrooms, the hotel is adorned with Omega Workshops prints, Woolf’s book cover designs by Vanessa Bell and collages of black and white Bloomsbury photographs.

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Each bedroom is named after a key Bloomsbury figure – Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey and, our room, Lady Ottoline Morrell. The doors of the rooms are identified with portrait silhouettes, a motif which is subtly repeated within the room pulling the individual scheme together.

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Against the neutral colours and simple shapes our wallpaper was the stand out feature. Echoing Duncan Grant’s design Arion Riding a Dolphin for the chest in his bedroom at Charleston House, our wallpaper reinterpreted this myth in soft grey and vibrant orange. A bedside notepad was also printed in the same design.

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The bed itself was very comfy and extremely spacious and the bathroom had some deliciously botanical bergamot and neroli toiletries by Woods of Windsor. The room had all the tech you might want but it was unobtrusive so that the bedroom remained a calm oasis away from the bustle of Russell Square Tube Station – a minute’s walk from the front door.

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Finally, breakfast was warm crisp pastries, a selection of cheese and cold meats, juice, fresh fruit and hot tea and coffee in the Library.

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Read Alice Lowe’s post on her blog about her essay in the Baltimore Review to find out how she ties Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own to the topic of 19th-century Arctic exploration.

How did I come to write about 19th-century Arctic exploration? It started with a song, as I explain in my essay “The Idea of North.” One thing led to another, and I was off on a tangent…

Source: The Idea of North | Alice Lowe blogs … about writing & reading & Virginia Woolf

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Actors have been chosen for the roles of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West for the upcoming film Vita and Virginia, according to The Guardian.

The part of Woolf will be played by French actress, Eva Green, and the role of Seckville-West will be played by English actress, Gemma Arterton.

Both Green and Arterton have appeared in several major motion pictures, and both have experience playing “Bond Girls” in James Bond films.

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Actress Eva Green will play Woolf (image via Pinterest).

Eva Green has appeared in many films including Dark Shadows, 300, and recently, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

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Actress Gemma Arterton will play Sackville-West (image via BBC).

Gemma Arterton has also appeared in many films including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Byzantium, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Harper’s Bazaar has created side-by-side images of the actresses and of their subjects for a visual analysis:

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Green and Woolf (image via Harper’s Bazaar).

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Arterton and Sackville-West (image via Harper’s Bazaar).

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