Virginia Woolf, Hope and Wonder
“The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think.” Rebecca Solnit’s essay, “Woolf’s Darkness,” opens with this quotation from Woolf, and follows with a discussion that celebrates Woolf’s investment in uncertainty and even darkness as a space of possibility. As Solnit writes, darkness is the time in which “things merge, change, become enchanted, aroused, impregnated, possessed, released, renewed.”
In a similar vein, Paul Saint-Amour notes that Woolf’s “diary entry for June 27, 1940, reads, ‘I can’t believe there will be a 27th June 1941.’ All the same, she went on to make one of the most radical feminist statements of her time, on behalf of a future she didn’t believe she would live to see.” Woolf has, Saint-Amour marvels, “the courage to make both connections and distinctions — between men and women, soldiers and civilians, one’s own death and another’s death — in the face of a threat that would efface them all.”
As Woolf teaches critics how to write clearly and sympathetically in the midst of uncertainty or darkness, her works offer a primer on hope, wonder, and play. Such achievements are hard-earned; Woolf rejects sentimentalism even as she reimagines distraction, uncertainty, and dread to awaken such wonder. This panel seeks papers that show us how and where hope surfaces in Woolf’s writing. Potential topics include:
- The transformation of the sublime in Woolf’s modernism
- Woolf’s reactions to nature
- Woolf’s alternatives to national memorials following the First World War
- Ethical and aesthetic responses to the war
- Portrayals of childhood
- The place of art, frivolity and joy during times of darkness
- How does Woolf’s oeuvre combat popular portrayals of Woolfian melancholy?
Please send CVs and abstracts of 300 words to Angela Harris (email@example.com) by March 15, 2021.
Woolf’s 21st Century Academia
In our profession, we have an opportunity to create what Virginia Woolf envisioned as a totally new version of higher education in the 21st century, that of “an experimental college, an adventurous college…The aim of the new college, the cheap college, should be not to segregate and specialise, but to combine. It should explore the ways in which mind and body can be made to co-operate; discover what new combinations make good wholes in human life” (Three Guineas 43). This panel will inspire productive conversation around the idea of Woolf’s 21st century notion of what academia might look like—exploring the myriad ways in which we, as professors, graduate students, undergraduates, bloggers, and common readers alike, might realize her collaborative vision in our teaching and scholarship today and in the increasingly uncertain future of academia. Please send a 250-300 word abstract and your contact information by March 15, 2021 to firstname.lastname@example.org.