ULU Women's Studies: ‘Virginia Woolf and the Arts'
Thursday, 28 November 2013 from 18:00 to 19:30 (GMT)
San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
A Lecture by Maggie Humm - Emeritus Professor / University of East London
As Brenda Silver argues, it is now 2013, and Virginia Woolf is still everywhere, criss-crossing culture. Not the writer herself, of course, but the sign ‘Virginia Woolf ’. Woolf’s aesthetics and politics have been taken up by a broad range of contemporary figures. The UK singer Florence and the Machine, Patti Smith, the American poet, photographer, rock singer, included a photograph of Virginia Woolf ’s bed and a stone from the river Ouse, where Woolf drowned herself, in the one-woman exhibition of her art, ‘Land 250’, at the Fondation Cartier in Paris; she also gave a live performance billed as a reading of Virginia Woolf ’s works. The July 2008 issue of Vanity Fair featured a picture of Angelina Jolie the film actress with Woolf’s words from Three Guineas – ‘As a woman I have no country. My country is the whole world’ – superimposed on Jolie’s arm, like a tattoo. A source at the magazine said the quotation probably was chosen to highlight Jolie’s internationalism. On Salon.com in 2009, the media web site, critiquing the so-called ‘image problem’ associated with Michelle Obama , the wife of the first African-American President of the United States, is called ‘Who’s afraid of Michelle Obama?’
So how did Virginia Woolf’s aesthetics and politics become so influential? I want to situate Woolf in her contemporary context - the early years of the twentieth century to explain where her ideas came from, and to try to draw out the complexities of her aesthetics and politics with a focus on gender.