Woolf 09



I'll try to write up some text of Woolf 09 for you soon--the conference was incredible--but for now, how about a few images:
Here, you see Woolf Conference publicist, and Fordham student extraordinaire, Megan Branch posing with the fabulous Cecil and Jean Woolf. Megan and I paused a moment at the pre-banquet reception, and here I am posing with our plenary panel, Inspired by Woolf. The inimitable Katherine Lanpher interviewed three fabulous women inspired by Virginia Woolf: Dr. Ruth Gruber (she wrote a dissertation on Woolf at age 20 and went on to be a journalist and activist), Susan Sellers (who was launching her new novel, Vanessa and Virginia), and Kris Lundberg, actress and founder of the Shakespeare's Sister Theater company.

You can read Paula's account here.
It's not too late to attend the Woolf Conference at Fordham's Lincoln Center campus.

We're expecting over 200 people starting on Thursday. The first talks begin at noon.

We have plenary sessions every day. Rebecca Solnit will be giving the keynote address on Friday afternoon at 3:30.

You may purchase a day-pass for $45. 4-day passes are $175. We will have volunteers helping register people beginning at 10:00 on Thursday morning. All events are in our classroom building at 113 W 60th, with plenary sessions in Pope Auditorium (street level), registration one flight up (escalator) on the Plaza, and most sessions on the 5th floor.

We have some wonderful fiction writers and poets reading from work inspired by Woolf on Friday, 1:30-3:00 and on Saturday, 11:00-12:30. On Saturday, 2:00-3:30, NYC public high school girls in Girls Write Now will be reading their work inspired by Woolf and from 4:00-5:30 we will have a panel discussion featuring three amazing women inspired by Woolf.

We also have two ticketed events. On Thursday at 8:00 we will be hosting a staged reading of "Vita & Virginia" directed by Matthew Maguire. Tickets are $15 at the door. On Friday at 8:00, The Stephen Pelton Dance Theater and the band Princeton are presenting a one-night only collaboration of Woolf inspired modern dance & pop music. Tickets for that are $20 at the door.

You can find more information about the conference at our conference website. Please note that the website lists the Merc reception as being on Thursday: we changed the date to Friday.

Not about Virginia Woolf: Fiction Conference at Fordham University


The Mercantile Library is so awesome! I cannot exaggerate how much fun I had leading one of their reading groups this spring. I love teaching, but there is something really special about a non-credit class, with a bunch of adults who give up an evening just to come together and talk about a novel.

And, as all blog readers know, there is nothing more awesome than Beatrice’s own Ron Hogan.

So, when then Merc asked me if I could get Fordham to co-sponsor the Mercantile Library Center For Fiction’s Writer’s Conference, I said YES!

Now, I’m emerging from my pre-Woolf Conference flurry to encourage you to register for the conference and spread the word.

Ron has put together an amazing day of information and advice for writers. PLUS for the registration fee of $200, you also get a month of studio space at the Mercantile Library. Who is speaking? Well, the fabulous Lauren Cerand of luxlotus, Toure himself, Ben Greenman, whose been getting such amazing publicity for his funky new book. Also: the funny and wise Jennifer Weiner. And Sara Nelson, former editor Publisher’s Weekly. And the dry and intelligent Richard Nash, formerly of Soft Skull. And Sigrid Nunez, who wrote a book about Leonard Woolf’s marmoset (among other things). In short, in a single day, you have the chance to hear from novelists, publishers, publishing insiders, and publicists.

All of this is happening at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, my home base: 113 W 60th, just one block west of Columbus Circle. Register today and pass it on! It’s going to be great.

it was this : it was this:

Even if you're not coming to the Woolf Conference, you should make time for June 5th's one night only music and dance performance, "it was this : it was this : "

it was this: it was this:
songs and dances inspired by the life and work of
Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group
with Princeton & Stephen Pelton Dance Theater
at the 19th Annual Virginia Woolf Conference
Friday June 5th, 2009 8pm
Pope Auditorium, Fordham University
113 W 60th St, New York, NY 10023

Tickets $20. Available online today & tomorrow only & then at at the door.

But don't take it from me. Here's what the collaborators say:
Southern California frolic meets Northern California serious in a one-night only collaboration of song and dance.

Princeton, the Los Angeles-based trio, join forces with San Francisco’s Stephen Pelton Dance Theater in it was this: it was this: an evening of songs and dances inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group.

Princeton will perform all of the songs from their recent EP Bloomsbury, each lyrically focused upon a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Portraits of Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes are each presented in a different musical framework with lush orchestral arrangements. The band is comprised of twin brothers Jesse and Matt Kivel and Ben Usen. The band will be joined by 8 additional musicians in recreating their frolicsome, exuberant take on the cast of Bloomsbury characters.

Stephen Pelton Dance Theater, known for known its intimate theatricality and emotional intensity, may be familiar to audiences from previous Woolf conferences. This year the company will perform several new works including the premiere of it was this: it was this: a choreographic study of Woolf’s punctuation. Using a single paragraph from To the Lighthouse, the company dances their way from the first word to the last, pausing briefly for every comma, parentheses and semicolon in-between. The company also performs a revised version of The Death of the Moth, first seen at the Plymouth State Conference in 1997.

The artists will combine forces for the premiere of Lytton/Carrington, a portrait-in-miniature of this most original of love stories.

Pelton writes, “What is most interesting to me in this collaboration with Princeton, is how remarkably different our approaches to Woolf are. I suspect that some of this may be attributable to the fact that we are from completely different generations—I am in my mid-forties, they in their early twenties. Their sweet, light-hearted and, at times, irreverent response to the material would have been unthinkable to me twenty years ago when I started to read Woolf and make dances inspired by her. Though they are always respectful, their songs embrace the playful spirit in Woolf’s work and in the lives of her colleagues; whereas I have tended to focus my response on the gravity of Woolf’s concerns. This contrast should make for a very fascinating evening in the theater.”
Tickets are selling fast, so hop online & buy one: no need to register for the conference, just get a ticket (or four or five). And big, big, big thanks to Paula Maggio of Blogging Woolf for turning me on to Princeton in the first place!

Life in Woolf’s Shadow

It won’t always be like this, I know, but it’s all Woolf all the time around here these days. It’s strange, but I love it.

When my book came out, I thought I’d leave Woolf behind. I thought I’d quickly finish editing Mrs. Dalloway (ha!) and move on. But I wanted to host the Woolf conference, so then, perhaps, after the conference…

So, on Monday, I stayed home to prepare for the week’s teaching: 1) leading a reading group on Mrs. Dalloway at the Mercantile Library Monday night, 2) teaching the end of The Waves to my undergraduate class on Tuesday, and 3) leading the Modern British graduate students’ group on editing Mrs. Dalloway on Tuesday night. That’s a lot of Woolf.

I didn’t expect Woolf to continue to loom so large. I certainly never expected to continue to be so riveted. I half-fear that it may be some kind of mental flaw: a scar in my brain that makes this one writer continue to resonate so powerfully.

Sunday night, I was reading some urban theory. Specifically, I was reading a discussion of the links between city life and agoraphobia, of Freud’s interpretation of the tension between women’s desire to sit in a window, beckoning men, and the fear of their sexual feelings. Freud and his generation (Woolf’s generation) also linked such moods to male homosexuals. Suddenly, I could see the dim outlines of a footnote, something about Septimus’ method of suicide as deeply connected to the modern city.

I was so excited that I could read no further.

Woolf and the City at the Merc

I'll be leading a Reading Group at the Mercantile Library in New York leading up to the Woolf Conference in June. We'll read four Woolf novels and talk about Woolf & the city:
Mondays: April 6, April 20, May 4 and May 18
6:00pm–7:30pm

Led by Anne Fernald
$50 for members; $65 for nonmembers
Virginia Woolf made a permanent mark on London when she left the staid neighborhood of her birth and moved to Bloomsbury in 1904. This group will focus on Woolf as a city writer: how the city inspired her imagination and how she chronicled its many aspects. This focus allows us to celebrate Woolf’s London, to explore how she turned her daily walks into adventures, and to discuss the place of the city in our imagination. For April 6, please read Mrs. Dalloway. We will read Orlando, Flush, and The Years in subsequent weeks.
Click here to sign up!

ISO: Writers Who Read Woolf

At the 19th Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference (June 4-7, 2009, Fordham University, Lincoln Center), I want to feature some creative writers who will talk about Woolf's influence, for good and ill, on their work. I especially want those writers to not be all nice white women. If you or someone you know has an interest in participating, please be in touch with me and my graduate assistant at our conference address, woolf@fordham.edu.

We are already planning a plenary panel, hosted by Katherine Lanpher, host of Barnes & Noble’s “Upstairs at the Square” featuring three artists and activists influenced by Woolf.

The conference will have about 225 attendees, Woolf scholars and English professors, mostly, but also students and common readers. We will have about 30 90-minute concurrent sessions (about 5 per session; about 6 sessions over the 4 days). Most of these will be reserved for academic papers, but everyone really enjoys the option to attend a reading and discussion in lieu of another panel on theory and Woolf.

Several creative writers have already submitted proposals to read but I am actively seeking more. I am especially interested in hearing proposals from men, from writers of color, and from anyone who reads Woolf but does not simply worship at her shrine.

So, if you’re a creative writer and would like to give a brief (15-20 minute) reading on a panel with other writers, please do consider submitting a proposal. You can find the Call for papers here. You can read anything you like, but your proposal should articulate how your work connects to Woolf and you should be prepared to discuss that in the Q & A.

The conference will have a book exhibit, staffed by Bluestockings Bookstore. We will be happy to have them stock your book.

19th Annual Woolf Conference: Call for Papers

I am organizing it. It's going to be great. Proposals are due February 1, 2009!
June 4-7, 2009
Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
To escape is the greatest of pleasures; street haunting in winter the greatest of adventures. Still as we approach our own doorstep again, it is comforting to feel the old possessions, the old prejudices, fold us round; and the self, which has been blown about at so many street corners…, sheltered and enclosed…. And here—let us examine it tenderly, let us touch it with reverence—is the only spoil we have retrieved from all the treasures of the city, a lead pencil.
--Woolf, “Street Haunting” (1927)

Liberty seems clothed in radiant silver. The air here is about a thousand times clearer than the air in England. There is not a shred of mist or a wisp of fog: everything shines bright. The City of New York, over which I am now hovering, looks as if it had been scraped and scrubbed only the night before. It has no houses. It is made of immensely high towers, each pierced with a million holes.
--Woolf, “America, Which I Have Never Seen” (1938)


For the 19th Annual Woolf Conference, we return to the site of the first: New York City. With this return, we embark on new critical and theoretical ground. Our theme, Woolf and the City, encompasses the familiar and the new, the material and the imaginative.

Topics might include (but are not limited to):
• Woolf and urban theory
• mapping Woolf’s London
• public and private spaces in Woolf
• women in the modern city
• object theory, material culture, trash
• cities and empire
• cosmopolitanism in Woolf
• lesbians and the city, urban sexualities
• imaginary geographies, unreal cities
• teaching Woolf and the city
• films in and of the city
• print culture and the masses
• public memory, monuments, and memorials
• historical London, London past
• New York, Paris, Constantinople
• Wartime London
• Bloomsbury, neighborhoods, and suburbs
• streetwalking, street haunting, and flanerie
Proposals for individual papers and/or panels due by February 1, 2009. We also welcome alternative proposals such as workshops or readings. Independent scholars, high school teachers, and “common readers” are encouraged to submit proposals. Please send 250 word abstracts as Word attachments with a separate sheet indicating name(s), institutional affiliation(s) and email address(es).

Conference Organizer: Email me at the conference address Anne Fernald (woolf@fordham.edu)