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Archive for the ‘31st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf’ Category

Interested in Virginia Woolf’s essays? Wondering how the lessons from her essays apply to teaching and learning? Then you won’t want to miss Beth Rigel Daugherty’s talk, “Learning and Essaying: From Adeline Virginia Stephen to Virginia Woolf” on Oct. 10, the 2022 International Virginia Woolf Society Fall Lecture.

The event will run from 1–2:30 p.m. ET (New York). See timezone adjustments below, but please doublecheck the times:

10–11:30 a.m. PT (Los Angeles)
2–3:30 p.m. (Brasilia)
6–7:30 p.m. BST (London)
7–8:30 p.m. CEST (Paris)
[Oct 11] 2–3:30 a.m. JST (Tokyo)
[Oct 11] 4–5:30 a.m. AEDT (Sydney)

Members of the International Virginia Woolf Socity will receive a Zoom link for this event closer to the date. If you are not a member, you can join now.

Learning and Essaying

In her talk, Beth will guide viewers through her newly published book, Virginia Woolf’s Apprenticeship: Becoming an Essayist, from the Edinburgh University Press and preview her sequel, Virginia Woolf’s Essays: Being a Teacher.  With the follow-up volume, Beth says, “I hope to clarify how her essays continue to teach and to encourage readers to join the literary conversation.”

Get a taste of Beth’s book, as well as her talk, in this interview posted on EUP’s website.

About Beth

Recently retired from Ohio’s Otterbein University, Beth Rigel Daugherty taught modernist English literature, Virginia Woolf, and Appalachian and Native American literature, along with many thematically focused writing courses, for 36 years.

Her plenary talk at the 31st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, “On the Ethics of Teaching: Virginia Woolf’s Essays,” received accolades from everyone who heard it.

Beth fell in love with Virginia Woolf and her essays while at Rice University and has been presenting and publishing on both ever since. Her peer-reviewed articles have appeared in edited collections; editions of the “How Should Read a Book?” holograph draft and Woolf’s fan letters in Woolf Studies Annual; and, with Mary Beth Pringle, the Modern Language Association teaching volume on To the Lighthouse.

Beth Rigel Daugherty (at far left), Leslie Hankins and Diane Gillespie presented a panel on “Portraying and Projecting Age, Ageism, and Activism” at the 19th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, with its theme of social justice, at the University of Mount Saint Joseph in Cincinnati in June of 2019.

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A roundtable on “Biography, Biofiction and Ethics” was a highlight for me at the June 9-12 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. The panelists, all knowledgeable on the topic, included two authors of Woolf biofiction who defended the genre.

Two views of Keynes

Susan Sellers, author of the 2008 Vanessa and Virginia and the recently released Firebird: A Bloomsbury Love Story (about Maynard Keynes and Lydia Lopokova), pronounced fiction as “the ideal medium for exploring the tangle of personal history” and “an ethical arena in which to speculate and imagine in the gaps of what the historical record can tell us.”

Emma Barnes also chose Maynard Keynes as the subject of her 2020 novel, Mr. Keynes’ Revolution. She said: “Fiction is a lie, by definition. But it’s also a lie in pursuit of some essential truths, or should be. If we recognize the practical and aesthetic constraints imposed on us as writers, we can try to write fiction about real people with integrity.”

The devil’s advocate on the panel was Mark Hussey, Woolf scholar extraordinaire and author of the recent biography, Clive Bell and the Making of Modernism. For Mark, a novelist’s changing facts raises an ethical red flag: “The shift of emphasis from the biographical subject of a biofiction to the writer of that biofiction’s own ‘vision of life and the world’ strikes me as a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand.”

A view from the fence and more

As a selective and skeptical reader of biofiction, I’m on the fence. What’s fact and what’s fiction? Should I care? (I do.) Can and should a novelist distort the facts to embellish the fiction?

For the reader, perhaps it’s a case of caveat emptor: she knows she’s reading fiction and she can enjoy it as such, consult factual sources to verify facts. I’ve read biofiction that the author appends with a list of references and comments about her fictionalizations. That works for me.

In addition to those mentioned above, other biofiction novels mentioned or referenced include:

The Hours by Michael Cunningham, 1998

Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury by Sigrid Nunez, 1998

But Nobody Lives in Bloomsbury, Gillian Freeman, 2006

Vanessa and Her Sister, Priya Parmar, 2014

Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, Maggie Gee, 2014

Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf, Norah Vincent, 2015

 

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Inspiring. Insightful. Intimate. Those are three words I could use to describe the four days of Virginia Woolf and Ethics, the 31st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, which ran from June 9-12.

Held remotely on Zoom for the second year in a row and hosted by Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, with Amy Smith as organizer, the conference brought together around 270 Woolf scholars from around the globe, including Brazil, the Netherlands, Norway, Candada, the UK, and the US.

Links to share

I took lots of notes. Sadly, I don’t have the time or the energy to share them all. Instead, I’ll list just a few online resources that some of the presenters and participants shared with us. Readers, feel free to add yours in the comments section below.

Here goes.

Favorite quote and rave reviews

And here is one of my favorite quotes from the conference. There were many more, but this is the only one I managed to get down on paper verbatim.

It comes from Ane Thon Knutsen, of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Norway, who presented “On Being Ill – A letterpress printed Covid-19 diary.”

You have no control over what happens when you read books. And it’s magical. – Ane Thon Knutsen

Ane, along with many other presenters, got rave reviews. One was Beth Rigel Daugherty, whose brilliant and heartfelt final plenary, “On the Ethics of Teaching: Virginia Woolf’s Essays,” awed participants and brought them to tears.

Below is just one of the many information-rich PowerPoint slides Beth shared in her talk. It lists some of the Woolf essays that informed her 36 years of teaching at Otterbein University and warned her against preaching to her students, a caveat she took to heart.

Recently retired, Beth’s latest project is a book for Edinburgh University Press — Virginia Woolf’s Apprenticeship: Becoming an Essayist (2022).

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Virginia Woolf and Ethics, the 31st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, begins tomorrow, June 9, and runs through Sunday, June 12. And while it is hosted by Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, it is taking place completely online, giving the conference the ability to draw in a wide variety of participants from around the globe.

You can still register and Zoom in to four days of multidisciplinary conversation about Woolf and ethics.

Important conference links

  • The program for the four-day virtual event
  • Registration for attendees who are not presenting. Four-day ($40) and single-day ($20) registrations are available.
  • Plenary details, including
    • Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, “Rethinking Bloomsbury and Race in the Wake of BLM”
    • Peter Stansky, “How the World Turns: Two Examples: Virginia Woolf and the Dreadnought Hoax; The Life of Julian Bell”
    • Beth Rigel Daugherty, “On the Ethics of Teaching: Virginia Woolf’s Essays”
    • Elsa Högberg, “Virginia Woolf’s Reparative Ethics”
  • Theater performance by Ellen McLaughlin and Kathleen Chalfant who have collaborated on “Life Stand Still Here,” which is based on Woolf’s diaries and Lily Briscoe’s painting in To the Lighthouse.

Virtual conferences include more global perspectives on Woolf

The idea that organizers of the annual Woolf conferences should work to include more global perspectives on Woolf studies was strongly articulated at the 29th annual Woolf conference in 2019. As the most recent in-person Woolf conference, it was held at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the theme of Woolf and Social Justice.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which made virtual conferences a necessity, helped move that idea forward, making attendance easier and more economical for both presenters and participants.

Profession and Performance, the 30th annual Woolf conference, scheduled for 2020 at the University of South Dakota, was postponed until 2021 and was the first Woolf conference to be held virtually, on June 10-13, 2021. This year’s is the second.

Global perspectives on the last live Woolf conference

After the 2019 conference, the 29th, young scholars from Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Canada shared their views on that conference. Below are links to their stories.

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Once again, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced this year’s Woolf Conference, the 31st, to move online.

Last year, the 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, with its theme of Profession and Performance, was held virtually for the first time via Zoom. It was originally scheduled to be held in 2020, but the pandemic postponed it until the following year.

The 2022 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, scheduled for June 9-12  at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, will also be held online only. Its theme is Virginia Woolf and Ethics.

“Because of the persistent uncertainty surrounding COVID, and especially in the wake of recent travel disruptions and other factors, the 2022 Woolf conference has been moved online,” announced Amy C. Smith, associate professor of English at Lamar and the conference organizer.

Call for papers on Woolf and Ethics

“To allow time for folks to shift gears in response to this change, the abstract submission deadline has been extended to Feb. 15, 2022. Please consider proposing panels, workshops, or other forms of collaborative conversation around shared interests, as well as individual papers,” she wrote in an email to society members.

Possible topics and approaches may include:

  • Ethics and reading, ethics of reading
  • Ethical scholarly community and academic life
  • Woolf as ethical/social/political theorist
  • Human-animal relations, the natural world
  • Racism, patriarchy, and bigotry
  • The ethics of biography and life writing
  • Woolfian teaching, ethics in teaching
  • War, pacifism, fascism, empire, human rights
  • Narrative practices, reading experiences
  • Empathy, regard, attention
  • Individuality and collectivity
  • Knowledge, reason, objectivity, and certainty
  • Secularism, religion, and spirituality
  • A range of moral philosophies and concepts (listed above and extending further)

Abstracts of a maximum 250 words for single papers and 500 words for panels, as well as questions, should be sent to Virginia.Woolf@lamar.edu by Feb. 15, 2022.

Get more details about the call for papers.

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