e72b6-virginia-woolf-1935-man-rayPeter Fifield is giving a free talk at Birkbeck College on 17 May 2017 as part of Birkbeck Arts Week. The talk will demonstrate how Virginia Woolf‘s work connects to “a very specific moment in medical history”, and explore our tendency to link mental work with the activity of eating. To book a free place, visit the Eventbrite page.

And, if you are hungry for more on Woolf then do take a look at my recent interview with Kathryn SimpsonVirginia Woolf: A Guide for the Perplexed.

Kathryn Simpson discusses the life and work of one of literary modernism’s most distinguished innovators
Kathryn Simpson, Woolf: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury, 2016)
Kathryn Simpson, Woolf: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury, 2016)

What motivated you to write Woolf: A Guide for the Perplexed?

I feel very passionate about the work of Virginia Woolf because of the ways it engages with some of the ‘big’ questions about self and identity, experience and relationships, politics, cultural pressures and the impact of a changing world. She, like other modernist writers and artists, attempted to convey what it meant and felt like to live through a period of dramatic change (politically, socially, economically and in terms of technological developments) and to find new forms and techniques to represent a new sense of modernity.

How did you discover Virginia Woolf’s writing?

I discovered her writing as part of my undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham and then chose to write on her work for my PhD alongside other early twentieth-century women writers (Gertrude Stein, H.D, Radclyffe Hall and Djuna Barnes). (more…)

samuelbeckett-walking“As a literary structure, the recounted walk encourages digression and association, in contrast to the stricter form of a discourse or the chronological progression of a biographical or historical narrative. A century and a half later, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf would, in trying to descrive the workings of the mind, develop the style called stream of consciousness. In their novels Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway, the jumble of thoughts and recollections of their protagonists unfolds best during walks. This kind of unstructured, associative thinking is the kind most often connected to walking, and it suggests walking as not an analytical but an improvisational act. Rousseau’s Reveries [of the Solitary Walker] are one of the first portraits of this relationship between thinking and walking.”

— From Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

A one-day symposium at the Institute of English Studies, London • 12 December 2016

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About the conference

Counter to the conventional perception of modernism as ahistorical, there have been recent academic and critical efforts to historicise it. The Historical Modernism Symposium seeks to contribute to this  trend by inviting readings of modern/ist literature and avant-garde art movements in the historical contexts of their production and reception, while assessing their entanglement with history and modernity transnationally.

The symposium aims to look at the history of modernism and the avant-gardes in relation to and their place in (literary and art) History, addressing questions of their relation with modern times, raised, for example, by colonialism; nationalism; globalisation; economics; politics; tradition; technology; urbanism, classicism; mythology; mysticism; religion; psychology/psychoanalysis.

Moreover, and importantly, it will examine pertinent philosophies of time, historiographical practices and representations of local and world historical events, such as the two World Wars, the Russian  Revolution and the rise of Fascism.

Finally, it will also investigate modernist concepts of the spirit of the times as well as new notions of and approaches to literary history. (more…)

bobby-hutcherson-jazz

“Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose improvising and composition helped to define modernity for jazz as a whole, has died. He had long struggled with emphysema. He was 75.”

More at NPR.

Call for submissions to a forthcoming edited collection

About the Proposed Collection

This landmark Companion aims to define the academic field of literature and art history. It is the first volume of its kind to comprehensively survey, question, and attempt to organize, interdisciplinary research across these richly inter-related arts. The book is aimed at literature and art history students, as well as at academics and practitioners, who are interested in mapping out intersections between literature, the visual arts, and their respective academic disciplines. (more…)

Should we bother with modernism? Is it suited to our bedside table, or should it be exiled to obscurity on some distant library shelf?
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Virginia Woolf

While looking for something interesting to read online recently I stumbled across something boring. Namely, Robert McCrum’s Guardian piece on ‘The best boring books’: it listed big, grey bricks of supposedly anaesthetic prose. McCrum selected novels based on their ability to relieve anxiety and dull the senses, singling out two modernist novels among his favourites: James Joyce’s notorious Finnegans Wake and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. I looked again. Is there something intrinsic to modernism that lends itself to these kinds of associations? Of dullness and tedium in the mind’s eye of the public?

Gabriel Josipovici asked What Ever Happened to Modernism? As part of an in-depth literary study, he charted the recent decline of modernist literature in opposition to other, more traditional forms of storytelling. But what is it about Modernism that turns so many readers away? Why are Joyce, Eliot and Kafka missing from our holiday reading lists? And if by some miracle they are on our bookshelves, why do we never pick them up? (more…)

The Modernist Review is designed to provide a platform for scholars and others with a keen interest in modernism to share emerging work across a range of interests. (Source: British Association for Modernist Studies)Save