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Woolfians around the globe celebrated Dalloway Day last week, a day commemorating Clarissa Dalloway’s walk to “buy the flowers herself” in preparation for her party that evening.

The official date, as established in 2018 by both the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and the International Virginia Woolf Society, is the third Wednesday in June, which this year fell on June 15. But events celebrating Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway are not usually restricted to one day, and this year was no exception.

Here is a rundown of some of the events that took place this year, along with a few notable #DallowayDay tweets, some of which share interesting resources.

 

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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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The Charleston Festival is back — in person — beginning yesterday and running through May 29 at Charleston in Firle, Sussex.

The festival is the main fundraising event for the longtime home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and the country refuge for the Bloomsbury group.

Of particular interest to Bloomsbury scholars is Sunday’s program with Alex Jennings and Jonathon Pryce. At 5:30 p.m., the actors will do a live reading of “The Love Lives of Lytton Strachey,” revealing “a playful and uncensored portrait of a queer universe, shared in glorious candid detail with trusted friends,” according to the website.

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If you can get to Cambridge or London this month or next, you are in luck. You have two chances to learn more about the relationship between Maynard Keynes and ballerina Lydia Lopokova, straight from Susan Sellers, author of Firebird: A Bloomsbury Love Story, which explores the couple’s love story.

Maggie Humm, whose recent novel Talland House explores the life of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse heroine, Lily Briscoe, joins Sellers for both conversations, the first in Cambridge and the second in London.

Here are the details for both events.

A Bloomsbury Love Story

When: Sunday 24 April 2022, 10-11 a.m. BST
Where: The Cambridge Union Society, 9a Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1UB
Why: Part of the Cambridge Literary Festival
Cost: Tickets £12. Book here.

Susan Sellers and Maggie Humm, two world-leading experts talk about the women of Bloomsbury, and what a lifetime of reading, researching, teaching and writing about Virginia Woolf has taught them.

An Evening in Bloomsbury with Susan Sellers and Maggie Humm

When: Thursday 5 May 2022, 6.30 p.m. BST
Where: Hatchards, 187 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LE
Cost: Tickets £10 Book here.

Join Susan Sellers discussing the lives of Bloomsbury’s most unlikely lovers, Maynard Keynes and Lydia Lopokova, with Maggie Humm.

It is the winter of 1921 and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes launch a flamboyant new production at London’s Alhambra Theatre. Maynard Keynes is in the audience, though he expects little from the evening. Despite Lydia’s many triumphs, including the title role in Stravinsky’s Firebird, Maynard’s mind is made up – he considers her ‘a rotten dancer’. Besides, Lydia has at least one husband in tow and Maynard has only ever loved men.

Tonight, however, as Susan Sellers relates, that is all about to change and while The Firebird is a fictional re-imagining, life is often stranger and more surprising. Especially, perhaps, when it comes to the lives of theBloomsbury Group.

About the speakers

Susan Sellers

Susan Sellers is professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of St. Andrews. Her first Bloomsbury-inspired novel, Vanessa and Virginia, was an editor’s pick for The New York Times and has been translated into 16 languages.

Maggie Humm

Maggie Humm is an Emeritus Professor, international Woolf scholar and novelist. She has written many books on feminism, art and Virginia Woolf, and in 2020 published her debut novel Talland House, a gripping historical romance/detective fiction set in picturesque Cornwall and London during World War I. Shortlisted for several prizes including Eyelands and Impress, Talland House was chosen by the Washington Independent Review of Books as one of its ’51 Favorite Books’ of 2020.

 

When the don met the dancer – this is the story of how Maynard Keynes, the great economist, fell for Lydia Lopokova, celebrity ballerina and Russian émigrée. And it is also a story of resistances, when a different kind of woman stepped into the settled world of Virginia, Vanessa, and all the rest of their English entourage. – In Firebird, Susan Sellers restages the bright Bloomsbury years of the early 1920s as they have never been seen before. – Rachel Bowlby

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