The Italian Virginia Woolf Society is pleased to announce the International conference: 'Recycling Woolf', that will be hosted by the Université de Lorraine (Nancy, France) from 27th to 29th June 2019.
Proposals of max. 300 words for talks of max. 20 minutes should be sent to Monica Latham, Caroline Marie and Anne-Laure Rigeade at: [email protected] before 30th November 2018.
Confirmed Keynote Speaker:
Prof. Brenda Silver (Dartmouth College, USA)
Jean-Pierre Criqui (Centre Pompidou, France)
Invited artists: Kabe Wilson Anne-James Chaton
Has Virginia Woolf become, just like Shakespeare, one of those literary icons that pervade popular culture, alongside Marilyn Monroe or Lady Di? Recent scholarly essays such as Brenda Silver’s Virginia Woolf Icon or fictional productions such as Anne-James Chaton’s surprising novel Elle regarde passer les gens (adapted for the stage under the title Icônes) seem to suggest so.
Woolf’s transformation into an icon, object, and by-product leads us to acknowledge the shift in her status as a writer: she no longer embodies just a national writer, but transcends geographical borders and has become a figure from a little-known past that people imagine and reimagine without necessarily reading her works. In this process of iconisation, the authorial figure is recycled and begins new lives in new referential spaces, as it is appropriated by popular culture, marketed and commercialised. The contemporary biofictions that use the figure of Virginia Woolf and turn her into a character are a perfect example of this practice. Participants could start by discussing the notion of recycling an authorial figure, by defining and analysing its features, and establishing whether it is a culturally grounded notion, that is to say whether it varies according to the cultural environments in which it takes place. Participants could further point out the specificity of recycling the figure of Virginia Woolf, compared to other literary figures who have undergone the same process of iconisation, or, on the contrary, who have not been assimilated by popular culture.
The process of recycling an authorial figure not only alters his or her cultural status but inevitably impacts his or her oeuvre and the way we read it. On the one hand, it raises questions about how these transformations modify the reception of an author’s work. In what ways does such a revision of the status of the author imply a fresh rereading of his or her œuvre? On the other hand, it questions the manner in which an author’s oeuvre is appropriated. Does the notion of recycling apply to an author’s work just as it applies to authors themselves as cultural products? And if so, how is it different from rewriting, adaptation or transposition? Could we therefore apply the notion of recycling to Woolf’s oeuvre? And how does high culture react to the fact that Woolf is being recycled in today’s popular culture?
The notion of recycling is intrinsically linked to our contemporaneity, but also to Woolf’s practice in her own time of dealing with various discarded literary scraps. As a journalist and an essay writer, Woolf was interested in the “waste” of literature, in “minor” writers left out from the literary canon, or in “Bad Writers”, as the title of one of her essays attests. Could we thus envisage Woolf as a recycler?
Here are a few indicative potential approaches that could be considered:
- How can we theoretically define literary recycling? What gestures, logic, intertextual and hypertextual practices does the notion of recycling involve (as compared to rewriting, adaptation and transposition)?
Does recycling cover forms of reusing and misusing that are typically contemporary?
Is recycling only a cultural notion or could it also become a useful tool for critical theory?
Is there a particularity to the recycling of Woolf’s oeuvre compared to that of other modernists or other iconic literary figures?
- How is Woolf’s oeuvre recycled on the stage and on the screen today?
How is Woolf’s authorial figure resurrected, renewed, re-imagined, used or represented in biographies, biofictions and biopics?
What are the cultural and literary stakes of recycling the figure of the author?
How is the author’s oeuvre also transformed in the process of authorial recycling?
- Could recycling (of Woolf’s authorial figure and her oeuvre) result in creating cultural and media by-products?
Does the process of transforming Woolf into a cultural icon involve perpetuating stereotypes or recycling her myth over and over in the contemporary imagination? From this perspective, is recycling a matter of popular culture or “cultural vulgarity”?
In a globalised cultural context, is the Woolfian oeuvre and her authorial figure doomed to be recycled?
- What characterises and motivates Woolf’s gesture of recycling literary “waste” and authors rejected from the literary canon?
How can this gesture allow critics to define, specify or displace the notion of literary recycling?
Participants are invited to address the contemporary
transformations of Woolf’s oeuvre within their specific epistemological contexts.
- Finally, the participants could approach the notion of recycling Woolf’s oeuvre from a genetic and
editorial perspective and question the production and reproduction of her work. Do her preparatory notes and drafts also pertain to the logic of recycling? How does Woolf recycle her own avant-texte? Why, when, and how do publishing houses, with their specific editorial policies and marketing strategies, decide to recycle outdated editions and reissue new editions of Woolf’s work? Are these initiatives guided by commercial impulses or sound scholarly initiatives, and do they reflect the readers’ needs?
Participants are free to generate and answer their own set of questions related to the notion of recycling and Woolf’s work.
Proposals for panels are also welcome.
Frédérique Amselle (Université de Valenciennes, France) Catherine Bernard (Université Paris 7, France)
Anne Besnault (Université de Rouen, France)
Elisa Bolchi (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy) Nathalie Collé (Université de Lorraine, France)
Daniel Ferrer (ITEM/ENS Paris, France)
Christine Froula (Northwestern University, USA) Monica Latham (Université de Lorraine, France) Bethany Layne (De Monfort University, UK) Caroline Marie (Université Paris 8, France) Anne-Laure Rigeade (Sciences Po Reims, France) Brenda Silver (Dartmouth College, USA)
Anna Snaith (King’s College London, UK)
Sara Sullam (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy)
Monica Latham (Université de Lorraine, France)
Caroline Marie (Université Paris 8, France)
Anne-Laure Rigeade (Sciences Po Reims, France)