Archive for January, 2010

Two newly formed networks, the Scottish Network of Modernist Studies and the British Association of Modernist Studies, will host their first major international conference at the University of Glasgow Dec. 10-12.

This inaugural conference is based around Virginia Woolf’s famous and controversial statement in an essay of 1923, often taken as indicating a possible starting-point for modernity, that

on or about December 1910, human character changed.

 The groups invite scholars and practitioners from all disciplines to respond to any aspect of this statement. Relevant disciplines might include but are not restricted to literature, history of art, cultural history and the history of ideas.

Topics might include but are not restricted to:

  • glossing the symptoms of change in 1910 that Woolf cites in her explanation of that slogan.
  • broader contexts and tangents, literary, cultural, political, historical, which might include:
    • death of the King; Asquith government crisis; suffragettes and other political unrest;
    • Post-Impressionist show; Dreadnought hoax;
    • events beyond Britain in Europe, Mexico, Africa etc.;
    • books published in 1910;
    • activities of key cultural figures at that moment;
    • 1910 diary entries.
  • philosophy on or about 1910 – idealism, pragmatism and beyond.
  • religion, spirituality, modernity.
  • periodization and theories of change.
  • theories and representations of ‘human character’.
  • 1910 seen from the 1920s.
  • ‘in or about’ or ‘on or about’?
    • Prepositions and temporality.
    • Versions of Woolf – Leonard Woolf as editor.
  • accuracy and arbitrariness.

Organizers have already received panel proposals in the following areas and would also welcome expressions of interest in these areas:

  • Scotland 1910
  • Film around 1910
  • Modernism and Theory
  • Women at 1910
  • On or about December 2010: Human Character in the Age of Climate Change
  • Politics 1910
  • The periodical scene in 1910
  • Literature and the visual arts
  • The book in 1910
  • 1910 and middlebrow culture
  • Music and 1910
  • Europe 1910
  • 1910 and intermodernism
  • Periodising the century
  • Theatre and 1910

Paper abstracts of 200 words; or proposals for panels, round-tables, seminars or other expressions of interest, should be sent to conference organizers Bryony Randall and Matthew Creasy via e-mail at snms@arts.gla.ac.uk by May 1

Visit the conference Web site for more details.

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You have been cordially invited to tea at 6 p.m. on Jan. 25.

In celebration of Virginia Woolf’s 128th Birthday, the Shakespeare’s Sister Company is hosting a High Tea Literary Book Swap in proper British style.

The event will be held at Lady Mendle’s, 56 Irving Place, between 17th and 18th streets in New York City.

Patrons will enjoy the following:

6 – 6:30 p.m. -Tea and Mingling
Enjoy an assortment of teas, a buffet of tea sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam.

6:30 – 7:10 p.m. – Literary Book Discussions
Each guest will introduce the title/author of the book, one sentence describing what the book is about, an interesting fact about their favorite part of the book and what kind of book they are looking to swap for.

For those who prefer not to speak, we will provide ink and paper for you to write down your details and an SSC member would be happy to read it aloud on your behalf. We’re all friends here.

7:10 – 7:30 p.m. – Literary Book Swap
Guests will have the opportunity to trade their book as many times as they’d like. Additionally, the SSC will provide a program listing all of the books being traded for patrons to reference.

7:30 – 8 p.m.  – Tea and Mingling
The event concludes at 8 p.m. However, patrons are welcome to migrate downstairs to the martini bar and heated outdoor garden for cocktails.

Regarding attire, please come dressed in your British Best! Dresses and suits are encouraged. Hats and gloves are not required, but are encouraged.

All-inclusive admission runs $35 per person.

Please RSVP no later than Thursday, Jan. 21. All payments are kindly accepted in advance via PayPal to info@shakespearessister.org.

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Today is the day for the Woolf in Winter online discussion of Mrs. Dalloway. To join it, subscribe to the comment feed for the original invitation post: “Woolf in Winter: An Invitation.”

  • To find out more about the upcoming discussions on three other novels, go here. The discussions will be led by the four bloggers, SarahEmilyFrances and Claire, who came up with the plan.
  • Read thoughts on Mrs. Dalloway at “Nonsuch Books.”
  • “Lakeside Musing” has already posted her wintertime thoughts about reading MD. She says it is a novel that improves with age — the age of the reader.
  • Another blogger–and an English professor to boot–shares her experience of falling under the spell of Woolf’s words after struggling with “how to read” MD. Rohan Maitzen blogs about her reading experiences on Novel Readings.
  • To find out what some first-time readers of Woolf have already had to say about Mrs. D, go to this post at “another cookie crumbles,” the blog of a 23-year-old book lover living in London.
  • To read William Patrick Wend’s thoughts about the novel in an intertextual context, read his essay, “The Intertextual World of Mrs. Dalloway” on Blogging Woolf.

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Editor’s Note: William Patrick Wend is an adjunct faculty member in the Liberal Arts Department at Burlington County College. His essay is just in time for the Woolf in Winter online discussion of Mrs. Dalloway.

When I first read Mrs. Dalloway in 2004, it quickly became one of my favorite novels. In fact, if asked now, I would probably list it as my favorite novel.

In graduate school, while taking Intermodernist scholar Kristin Bluemel’s course on “The Novel,” I had the chance to reread Mrs. Dalloway. I ended up going in a different direction for my final paper, which I hope to discuss in a future post on Blogging Woolf, but for a mid-semester presentation I focused on the role of intertextuality, specifically in regards to the Epic Cycle, in Mrs. Dalloway.

Woolf begins with one simple scheme: a woman’s “ordinary day…full of poetry and pathos, tragedy and comedy.” Woolf uses intertextual citation to enrich her novel with Homer’s Odyssey, but also the Iliad, Aristotle’s Poetics, and other classic Greek writing.

Originally, and borrowed recently by Michael Cunningham for his own novel of the same name, Mrs. Dalloway was going to be called The Hours. As Molly Hoff has noted, this working title suggests Homer’s Odyssey. The Latin word for hour is “hora,” which comes from the Greek and can also mean very finite concepts like “spring” or a complete day.

Odysseus’ journey home takes 10 years; Clarissa’s return to “life” takes a bit over 10 hours. One could argue that her rebirth is analogous to the Persephone/Demeter myth in the Homeric Hymns as well.

Mrs. Dalloway and The Odyssey also have in the common how they interact with time. Both narratives begin in the present, in medias res, but use flashbacks to engage with past.

Other characters also share traits with the Epic Cycle. Like the opening lines of the Odyssey where Athena notes that Odysseus is currently tangled up with Calypso, the return of Peter Walsh from India comes with the announcement via Lady Burton, who Hoff refers to as an “androgynous Athena” that he “is in trouble with some woman.”

Back in India is Peter’s Penelope, Daisy, who is courted by two men while he is gone and tricks both her suitors to stand aside. Septimus, the broken solider in mourning, simulates Achilles when he has no taste for food. Achilles also denies himself sustenance to mourn his friend who has died in battle.


[1] Alison Booth, Greatness Engendered: George Eliot & Virginia Woolf

[2] Molly Hoff, The Pseudo-Homeric World of Mrs. Dalloway

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Friday is the day. Get ready to join the “Woolf in Winter” online discussion of Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway.

Four bloggers, SarahEmilyFrances and Claire, have extended an open invitation to join them in a wintertime group read and online discussion of four Virginia Woolf novels in two months.

The conversation about Mrs. Dalloway, led by Sarah, begins Friday, Jan. 15. Dozens of bloggers have already signed on to participate. You can, too. Just subscribe to the comment feed for the original invitation post: “Woolf in Winter: An Invitation.”

Here’s the schedule for the other three “Woolf in Winter” conversations:

  • Jan. 29: Conversation about  To the Lighthouse, led by Emily.
  • Feb. 12: Conversation about Orlando, led by Frances.
  • Feb. 26: Conversation about The Waves, led by Claire.

Read more about the plan on the Nonsuch Book blog under the heading ”Woolf in Winter: The Conversation Starts Soon.”

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