The broad range of topics covered over the years by the Annual Virginia Woolf Conference shows just how much readers and enthusiasts of Woolf are able to uncover within her writing and other aspects of her life. For the 2010 Conference on Woolf and the Natural World, there was analysis of flower, water, landscape images in her works in addition to the other various ways nature is portrayed in Woolf’s writing. What I thought was most interesting were the discussions concerning animals: horses, dogs, birds. I have only read Mrs. Dalloway and I don’t really recall much of a presence of animals in that novel, so I think it would be interesting to see how they are relevant in other works. Especially interesting would be the idea of a “doggraphy” as one’s biography that one presentation mentioned, as well as the topics concerning birds, for example, “Birds as Social Deviants in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway”. I am really curious as to what arguments these presentations made.
The older conference concerning Woolf and the City also caught my attention. Some presentations in this conference seemed to be interested in women and their movement through urban areas, the importance of the distinction between the city and the countryside, as well as the bustling emotions and mindscapes that big cities contain and how these cities influence emotions, mindscapes and thus, the creative process. What particularly interested me from this conference was a presentation on Bloomsbury and Fashion, a notion that is very closely tied with metropolitan areas. I do not know much about Virginia Woolf in the context of fashion, but I believe that a group of people such as the Bloomsbury group she was a part of, one with distinctive ideas about life and literature must have some sort of aesthetic theory and practice – and we already have said in class that interior design of their house was part of this aesthetic, so I am hoping fashion may somehow be intertwined with this as well. I do recall Clarissa mending her dress and Miss Kilman paying particulate attention to the difference in her own dress and that of Mrs. Dalloway and so I am sure fashion plays at least a marginal role in Woolf’s novels, or maybe I did not pay close enough attention and maybe its role is a bit larger.
What I am really excited about with this class is the idea of the altered book. I have never encountered this kind of practice in any other class and find it very appealing and very creative. The only thing I would be worried about is actually destroying a book. However, at the same time, you are creating a kind of piece of art yourself. I hope we talk more about this idea in class though – does the book have to have a certain topic? does it have to be about a certain novel? I still have some questions. But I am looking forward to making one!