May 12, 2003
OF VIRGINIA WOOLF SCHOLARS AND DEVOTEES
But Also Among Newly-Engaged Fans And Readers
Editor's note: Digital images of Virginia Woolf are available. Contact Marti Hobbes to obtain [firstname.lastname@example.org, (413) 585-2190].
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Smith College, home to one of the premier collections of letters and manuscripts of Virginia Woolf, will welcome some 350 of the world's leading Woolf scholars and devotees June 5 8 when it hosts the 13th annual conference on Virginia Woolf in cooperation with the International Virginia Woolf Society.
"This is truly a peak moment for
Woolf scholarship," observes conference co-organizer Karen
Kukil, associate curator of rare books at Smith, "but also
for general, public curiosity about the life and works of Virginia
Thanks in part to the critically acclaimed film "The Hours," an adaptation of Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway," interest has grown significantly in Woolf and the artists and writers of her time, notes Kukil's co-organizer Stephanie Schoen, associate director of donor relations at Smith. Schoen points out that more than 160 papers will be presented over the course of three days, interspersed with seven plenary sessions, eight exhibitions, four film screenings and two live performances.
Because of the wide interest in Woolf
in the Smith community and in the Valley, organizers have declared
all plenary sessions, exhibitions, performances and films free
and open to the public. A complete schedule of events is available
The conference opens officially at
5 p.m. Thursday, June 5, with a plenary session in Wright Hall
Auditorium. Smith College President Carol T. Christ, a scholar
of English literature, will discuss "Virginia Woolf and
Education." Smith President Emerita Jill Ker Conway, a celebrated
memoirist and expert on the writing of women's lives, will also
Steven Daldry's award-winning film
"The Hours" will be screened at 8:30 p.m. that evening
in Wright Hall Auditorium, preceded by a special preview of film
commentary by Daldry and novelist Michael Cunningham that will
be included in the forthcoming DVD version of the film. Conference
organizers note that the number of free, public seats for this
screening will be limited to ensure access for registered conference
Highlights of Friday, June 6, include
an interview with celebrated feminist literary scholar Carolyn
Heilbrun, founding president of the Society and author of a number
of landmark volumes in feminist scholarship, including "Toward
a Recognition of Androgyny" and "Reinventing Womanhood."
Heilbrun will be interviewed by Smith College Provost and Dean
of Faculty Susan Bourque at 4 p.m. in Wright Hall Auditorium.
As with the plenary sessions, the public is welcome.
Friday's plenary session will take
place at 6:30 p.m. in Wright Hall Auditorium, Gretchen Gerzina
-- professor of English at Vassar College and the author of "Black
London: Life Before Emancipation" and "Carrington:
A Life," a biography of Bloomsbury figure Dora Carrington
-- will discuss "Bloomsbury and Race." Noted art historian,
critic and biographer Frances Spalding, author of biographies
of several members of Woolf's circle, will present "When
are Words Not Enough? Roger Fry and Virginia Woolf."
Saturday opens with a plenary session
at 9 a.m. in Wright Hall Auditorium featuring a presentation
by Lyndall Gordon, author of "Virginia Woolf: A Writer's
Life." Gordon's talk is titled "This Loose, Drifting
Material of Life: Virginia Woolf and Biography."
A second Saturday plenary session at
5:30 p.m. in Sage Hall will feature celebrated Woolf biographer
Hermione Lee, professor of English literature at Oxford University,
discussing "Undiscovered Countries: Woolf, Illness and Reading."
Lee will focus on Woolf's 1930 essay "On Being Ill,"
a volume recently republished by Paris Press of Ashfield, Mass.,
for which Lee wrote the introduction. One of the original 250
hand-printed copies of the essay, published by Virginia and Leonard
Woolf's Hogarth Press, is in the collection of Smith's Mortimer
Rare Book Room and will be among the items exhibited during the
A highlight of Sunday's program will
be the world premiere of "Lytton and Virginia," a three-person
staged reading, based on the Smith-owned correspondence between
Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey, directed by Ellen Kaplan,
associate professor of theatre at Smith. The performance will
take place at 1:30 p.m. in Neilson Library Browsing Room.
Another performance of interest takes
place prior to the conference's official opening. Titled "A
Room of One's Own with Clare Dalton," it is scheduled for
3:30 p.m. Thursday in Wright Hall Auditorium. Dalton, a professor
of law at Northeastern University and executive director of Northeastern's
Domestic Violence Institute, began her theater career as an undergraduate
at Oxford University. Recently, she has performed several times
with her husband, Robert Reich, in productions of "Love
Throughout the conference, exhibits
across the Smith campus will offer expanded views of Woolf and
her influence on modern literature and issues affecting women.
The exhibits are "Woolf in the World: A Pen and a Press
of Her Own" (Neilson Library, third floor); "'The Politics
of Mind': Writing on Woolf, Teaching Woolf" (Neilson Library,
Sophia Smith Collection, Alumnae Gymnasium); "'Her Novels
Make Mine Possible': Virginia Woolf's Influence on Sylvia Plath"
(Mortimer Rare Book Room, Neilson Library); "A Story of
Their Own: Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Gloria Steinem"
(Neilson Library, Morgan Gallery, first floor); Virginia Woolf:
A Botanical Perspective" (Lyman Conservatory); "Vanessa
Bell and Bloomsbury" (Smith College Museum of Art); and
"Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury" (Hillyer Art Library).
An associated exhibit of the work of conference artist-in-residence
Suzanne Bellamy, an Australian artist inspired by Woolf, will
take place at the Northampton Center for the Arts.
The International Virginia Woolf Society,
a 600-member allied organization of the Modern Languages Association,
is devoted to encouraging and facilitating the scholarly study
of, critical attention to, and general interest in the work and
career of Virginia Woolf and to facilitating ways in which all
people interested in her writings can share information.
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 55 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the country.