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Posts Tagged ‘The Woolf Salon’

If you are a regular reader of Blogging Woolf, you may have noticed that I have not posted as regularly as usual for the past year or so. I blame the pandemic.

Poster for The Woolf Salon No. 7, “A Room of Your Own Will Not Protect You: Woolf and the Second Wave Feminists”

It has shortened my attention span, sapped my motivation, stifled my creativity, and generally made it difficult for me to focus for very long on anything seemingly unessential for survival.

You may have experienced similar feelings. Or not.

Pandemic-prompted Salon

Luckily, for a number of energetic Virginia Woolf readers and scholars, the pandemic has prompted the creation of something new and innovative for Woolf lovers around the globe, The Woolf Salon.

Ben Hagen, Shilo McGiff, Amy Smith, and Drew Shannon began the project last July. Their goal was to provide regularly scheduled opportunities for conversation among those interested in Woolf.

Anyone can join the group, which meets on the third or fourth Friday of each month via Zoom and focuses on a single topic or text. Just contact woolfsalonproject@gmail.com to sign up for the email list.

Topics have included:

  1. “Imagining Woolfian Criticism”
  2. “The Leaning Tower”
  3. “Kew Gardens” and its recent adaptation in the anthology film London Unplugged
  4. “Planetary Woolf,” which introduced attendees to the forthcoming book collection, Virginia Woolf and Contemporary Global Literature (Edinburgh UP, 2021
  5. “Solid Objects” and “A Society”

Just yesterday, we met to discuss the theme “Stay, This Moment,” with a focus on two readings, Woolf’s essay “The Moment: Summer’s Night” and her story “Slater’s Pins Have No Points.”

The full schedule is available online.

Submit a proposal

Anyone interested in hosting a future salon is invited to submit a proposal. Organizers are particularly interested in featuring the work of early career researchers as well as artists and graduate students. Or a host can choose to focus on one or two short texts.

Why a Salon?

Woolf provides justification for the concept of a literary salon in Orlando (1928), the gender-shifting pseudo-biography that paid tribute to her lover Vita Sackville-West.

She describes her title character’s experiences with the salons she encountered upon her return to England from Turkey in the 18th century.

Nor could she do more as the ship sailed to its anchorage by the London Bridge than glance at coffee-house windows where, on balconies, since the weather was fine, a great number of decent citizens sat at ease, with china dishes in front of them, clay pipes by their sides, while one among them read from a news sheet, and was frequently interrupted by the laughter or the comments of the others? Were these taverns, were these wits, were these poets? . . .‘Addison, Dryden, Pope,’ Orlando repeated as if the words were an incantation. – Orlando 123-4.

Now, the Lady R.’s reception room had the reputation of being the antechamber to the presence room of genius; it was the place where men and women met to swing censers and chant hymns to the bust of genius in a niche in the wall. Sometimes the God himself vouchsafed his presence for a moment. Intellect alone admitted the suppliant, and nothing (so the report ran) was said inside that was not witty. – Orlando 145.

In three hours, such a company must have said the wittiest, the profoundest, the most interesting things in the world. So it would seem indeed. But the fact appears to be that they said nothing. – Orlando 146.

The hostess is our modern Sibyl. She [he] is a witch who lays her [his] guests under a spell. In this house they think themselves happy; in that witty; in a third profound. It is all an illusion (which is nothing against it, for illusions are the most valuable and necessary of all things, and she [he] who can create one is among the world’s greatest benefactors), but as it is notorious that illusions are shattered by conflict with reality, so no real happiness, no real wit, no real profundity are tolerated where the illusion prevails. – Orlando 146.

 

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