Virginia Woolf at Monk's House

The 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf

June 11-14, 2020  

The Department of English will host the three-day conference at the University of South Dakota. The theme of the conference, “Profession and Performance,” brings together two significant terms. The first term (profession) mattered deeply to Woolf. It calls to mind not only her sense of herself as a writer but also the set of specialized occupations she addresses in "A Room of One’s Own" (1929) and "Three Guineas" (1938), areas of study and livelihood traditionally reserved for the sons of educated men. The second term (performance) invokes the Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf’s commitment over the past three decades to the arts, to theater, to music, to the spoken word and to their resonances with the performance and performativity of Woolf’s life and writing.

The combination of “Profession and Performance” occasions and encourages a cluster of other meanings and projects as well:

  • the dynamic link between Woolf’s social critique (what she professed) and her art (its performance);
  • modernism’s role in the professionalization of literature and criticism;
  • the livelihoods and lifestyles of Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group;
  • investigations of identity and community;
  • Woolfian meditations on professions (i.e., on occupations, commitments, allegiances or declarations);
  • common reading and specialized study;
  • profession as (public) performance (and vice versa);
  • questions of affect and attachment;
  • reflections on the selves and the worlds we profess / perform in daily life, in politics, in ethics, in institutions and in ongoing efforts to teach and learn;
  • the performative life of professionalization (or the subversion of professionalization);
  • and many more.

More information about the 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf will be made available in the coming months. If you have any questions, you can contact the conference organizer, Benjamin Hagen, at In the meantime, check out the program for the 29th annual conference, taking place in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 2019, hosted by Mount St. Joseph University.