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Posts Tagged ‘VirginiaWoolf’

Virginia Woolf wrote in her 1928 novel Orlando “clothes have more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us”. Her intimate circle of friends and members of the Bloomsbury group were part of the radical Modernist rethinking of dress at the Omega Workshops and Woolf herself wrote for British Vogue under Editor Dorothy Todd in the 1920s. Today the styles of Bloomsbury are inspiring more and more contemporary designers suggesting their aesthetic is as modern as it was 100 years ago.

BlogginWoolfOmega

Nina Hamnett and Winifred Gill wearing Omega designs photographed in The Illustrated London Herald 24 October 1915. Copyright British Library.

In 1915 Woolf’s sister and co-founder of the Omega Workshops Vanessa Bell suggested that the Omega take up dress design using the fabrics they were already creating. Bell went on to design and wear many Omega dresses inspired by the new un-corseted “Directoire” style made popular by Parisian designer and marketing-extraordinaire Paul Poiret. Many of the garments were painted in bold colours in the Post-Impressionist style that had offended vast swathes of the British public at Roger Fry’s first Post-Impressionist art exhibition in 1910. The Omega artists took the style of these bold canvases and transferred it onto clothing, revealing a daring defiance in opposition to accepted ideas of “good taste”. Indeed, in Omega dress we glimpse attitudes that would define youth fashion in the second half of the twentieth century, dressing to express alternative aesthetic and ideological allegiance.

Virginia Woolf responded to these Omega styles, writing to Vanessa Bell:

 “My god! What clothes you are responsible for! Karin’s clothes wrenched my eyes from the sockets – a skirt barred with reds and yellows of the violent kind, a pea-green blouse on top, with a gaudy handkerchief on her head, supposed to be the very boldest taste. I shall retire into dove colour and old lavender, with a lace collar and lawn wristlets”.

In this note to her sister, Woolf craves subtler shades for her own wardrobe. She was remembered for these neutral shades, for wearing “simple” or “martial-looking” clothes, but also in elegant stand out dresses and by Madge Garland, fashion editor of British Vogue, as a “beautiful and distinguished woman wearing what could only be described as … an upturned wastepaper basket on her head”. Her own relationship with clothing was complicated and her writing reveals a strong awareness of how clothes represent the self and hints at the perils of misrepresentation.

BloggingWoolfDress

Virginia Woolf wearing her mother’s dress photographed for British Vogue. Copyright British Vogue.

The many moods of Bloomsbury dress are increasingly being adopted by contemporary designers. Painterly Post-Impressionist styles, updated Victorian details, and slouchy yet elegant shapes capture the freedom of expression and reclamation of the past so typical of the works of the Bloomsbury group.

bloggingwoolfburberry

Burberry AW14/15 ready to wear. Copyright British Vogue

Burberry’s Bloomsbury Girls (AW14/15) modelled long floating hand-painted button-up dresses, patterned as if they had stepped out of the paintwork of an Omega interior. Tim Walker more recently used Charleston House in Sussex – home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant – as the dramatic backdrop for his editorial Rebel Riders for Italian Vogue (December 2015): Four models posed in front of Vanessa Bell’s iconic black painted wall in the library and waded through the depths of the pond that initially drew Bell’s affection for the house 100 years ago. See-by-Chloe’s upcoming AW16/17 collection is also inspired by the Bloomsbury aesthetic, layering floating skirts in chintz prints with long shirts and polo-neck sweaters. Here the subtler Victorian styles – the bow tied collars, lace up boots, and long frilled skirts – are coupled with thick knits and urban details.

BloggingWoolftimwalker

Tim Walker’s Rebel Riders December 2015. Copyright Italian Vogue.

The personal styles of many members of the Bloomsbury group were as radical as their works. They rejected expected conventions whether that was with word, image, or by wearing a painted hat or a “wastepaper basket” style on one’s head. Perhaps this reveals the root of their continued relevance, both of their intellectual and sartorial lives, today.

blogginwoolfseebychloe

Looks from See by Chloe’s AW16/17 campaign. Copyright Vogue.

This post is inspired by my research paper Dressing Modern Identity that I wrote and delivered earlier this year as part of my curatorial traineeship at Charleston. Read the current interns’ research at thecharlestonattic.wordpress.com.

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Hearing Woolf’s Life Writing, a concert showcasing music that inspired Virginia Woolf’s writing, will be held in conjunction with the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at The Concert Hall, Leeds School of Music, Friday, June 17, at 8 p.m.

Virginia Woolf: A Musical Life

VW: A Musical Life

The concert focuses on settings of Woolf’s diaries and letters and features three world premieres:

  1. The song cycle “A Lonely Mind” by Jan-Willem van Herpen
  2. Richard Barnard’s song cycle “Woolf Letters,” previewed in the YouTube video below
  3. A song by Jeremy Thurlow.

Barnard’s and Thurlow’s works were commissioned for this concert. The fourth work of the concert is Dominick Argento’s “From the Diary of Virginia Woolf” (1974, written for the English mezzo-soprano Janet Baker).

This concert is the second in a series showcasing music that inspired Virginia Woolf’s writing and that directly responds to her work, including new commissions, world premieres and little-known music by women composers.

Woolf famously stated , “I always think of my books as music before I write them,” and her writing continues to influence composers who have set her words or been inspired by her novels.

The series is a collaboration between pianist Lana Bode of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Dr. Emma Sutton of the University of St Andrews. Other performers include Annelies Van Hijfte, soprano; Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Nicola Rose, mezzo-sopranos; and Sian Cameron, pianist.

For more events in the Virginia Woolf and Music series, visit the website.

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Here’s a must-read: An interesting mash-up of Amy Schumer and Virginia Woolf.

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Since 2010, scholars of Virginia Woolf from Japan and Korea have held joint conferences on Woolf, exchanging thoughts andVirginia Woolf sharing friendship. Now, in an effort to increase participation, the 2016 conference is expanding its reach to Woolf scholars in all nations.

The 3rd Korea-Japan Virginia Woolf Conference 2016, Virginia Woolf and Her Legacy in the Age of Globalization, will be held Aug. 25-26, 2016,at Kookmin University, in Seoul, Korea. The two-day conference will focus on critical issues related to Woolf’s legacy in the age of globalization.

Call for Papers

Papers from scholars in any country are welcome. Possible topics might include:

  • Virginia Woolf studies in Asia
  • Woolf and Victorianism
  • Woolf and modernism
  • Woolf and life-writing
  • Woolf and post-humanism
  • Woolf in the age of postConference Conference -feminism.
  • Papers on any other topics that will refresh our perspectives on Woolf’s works and widen the horizon of Woolf studies are also welcome.

Please send 250-word abstracts in English and a one-page CV to the office of the Virginia Woolf Society of Korea at woolfkorea@gmail.com by Jan. 15, 2016. You will receive the official notification of acceptance by March 15, 2016.

Conference Registration

Regular Fee: 50 USD

Fee for Graduate Students: 25 USD

Important Dates

Abstracts/Papers Submission Date: Jan. 15, 2016

Notification of Acceptance (by Email): March 15, 2016

Final Papers for Conference Proceedings: July 15, 2016

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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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Bloomsbury Heritage SeriesEach year at the Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Cecil Woolf Publishers of London introduces several new monographs in their Bloomsbury Heritage Series and distributes a new catalogue of their publications.

The series of monographs is published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s nephew, Cecil Woolf, under the general editorship of Cecil’s wife, the acclaimed biographerJean Moorcroft Wilson. Following in the tradition of the Hogarth Essays, these booklets range in length from eight to 80 pages and embrace the ‘Life, Works and Times of members of the Bloomsbury Group.’

Here are the six new titles that will debut at the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

  1. Natural Connections: Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield by Bonnie Kime Scott
  2. `Eternally in yr Debt’: the Personal and Professional Relationship Between Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Robins by Hilary Newman
  3. Saxon Sydney-Turner: The Ghost of Bloomsbury by Todd Avery
  4. Virginia Woolf as Memoirist: ‘I am Made and Remade Continually’ by Alice Lowe
  5. Mistress of the Brush and Madonna of Bloomsbury, the Art of Vanessa Bell: a Biographical Sketch and Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography of Writings on Vanessa Bell by Suellen Cox

    Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson

    Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson

  6. Septimus Smith, Modernist and War Poet: A Closer Reading by Vara S. Neverow

You can also download the Cecil Woolf Publishers: 2015 Bloomsbury Heritage Catalogue and Order Form and view the complete list of the monographs available in the series.

Cecil is the featured speaker at the conference’s Saturday evening  banquet, where he will share stories of his experiences with Virginia and Leonard.

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Jane 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 at the age of 76. The news was announced by her son Ben. Since then, tributes to her have come in via the VWoolf Listserv, Facebook and Twitter.

Jane Marcus

Jane Marcus: 1938-2015

From Jean Mills:

She was a giant upon whose shoulders we all stand. Jane Marcus asked the important questions. Go back. Re-read her. All of it. There are gems to be mined there that will guide you, test you, frustrate you, but demand that you rethink possible. Her work will remain generative, bold, and meaningful to our own questions and research as we stay up late reading and writing forgetful of the tea kettle on the stove …but somehow certain that we’re on to something, something that matters.

From Christine Froula:

What very sad news. Jane’s pioneering scholarship and devoted teaching as well as her kindness and generosity have encouraged and inspired countless scholars of Woolf, Elizabeth Robins, feminism, modernism, and much more, and the enduring legacy of her own work will keep her spirit alive. We will miss you, Jane.

From Lauren Elkin:

It’s such a loss I don’t even know what to say, apart from simply that she was my mentor, and she taught me how to read, and how to be fierce. I hope I can live up to that legacy with my own students.

From Jan McVicker:

This is very sad news. Jane Marcus was a passionate thinker and her generosity was legend. I imagine there will be a tribute to her memory and legacy at the upcoming conference? I would be willing to help. Condolences to those who knew her well and to her family.

From Elisa Kay Sparks:

In her 1982 ground-breaking critique of traditional approaches to Virginia Woolf, “Storming the Toolshed,” Jane Marcus wrote: “It is an open secret that Virginia Woolf’s literary estate is hostile to feminist critics. There are two taboo subjects: on one hand her lesbian identity, woman-centered life, and feminist work, and on the other, her socialist politics. If you wish to discover the truth regarding these issues, you will have a long, hard struggle. In that struggle you will find the sisterhood of feminist Woolf scholarship” (Signs 13.1, p. 628). The degree to which those two subjects now provide the cornerstones of international Virginia Woolf studies is largely due to Jane Marcus’s long, hard years of struggle to document the full political and social context of Woolf’s writing. We are all forever in her debt.

From Bonnie Scott:

Jane was so many things to so many people, and to the authors she helped us see anew.  Her passion for following new lines of investigation was infectious, and she supported what she inspired?something I came to greatly appreciated when studying Rebecca West. I feel both bereft and blessed this morning.  Much love to the family she was so justly proud of.

From Diana Swanson:

She was and is an inspiration and one of the founding mothers of feminist scholarship and Woolf scholarship. Her contributions are incalculable.

From Allison Lin:

We will miss you, Jane… a wonderful Woolf scholar.

From Angeliki Spiropoulou:

Very sad news indeed. Her work is foundational.

From an unidentified member of the list:

This is terrible news — my very, very best to those who knew her well. Her work has been magnificent; and the generosity and real, insightful interest with which she engaged inexperienced young scholars, and normalized that interest, was wonderful. And she coined “the Virginia Woolf Soap Operas”! She will be missed so much.

I cut my teeth on Jane’s work when I was a fledgling graduate student working on my master’s in liberal studies with a focus on Woolf. I particularly appreciated her work on Woolf and anger, since that is a topic that continues to resonate. Though I never met her in person, I will miss her as well.

Added June 10, 2015:

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