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If you had a proposal accepted to the postponed 2020 Woolf Conference, please fill out this Google Forms survey. To submit a new proposal, see instructions below.

“Profession and Performance,” the theme of the 2021 Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf, calls to mind not only Woolf’s sense of herself as a writer (her profession) but also the set of specialized occupations she takes up in "A Room of One’s Own" (1929) and "Three Guineas" (1938), areas of study and livelihoods traditionally reserved for the sons of educated men. It also invokes the ACVW’s commitment over the past three decades to the arts, including theater, music, dance, spoken word, and the resonances of these and other media with the performance and the performativity of Woolf’s life and writing. “Profession and Performance” might also encourage us to reflect on the ACVW’s rich history of drawing people together and to consider how the professions of those who support and attend the conference might be changing. As an event open to all scholars, students, performers, and common readers of Woolf and Woolfian connections, we encourage 2021 participants to sound and explore echoes of past professions and performances in our present ones—especially as we face the constraints of the ongoing pandemic and the too-familiar campaigns of emboldened fascisms, but also the resilient and defiant hopes of the young, wayward, rebellious, and courageous.

Note: In the effort to accommodate as many participants and presenters as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 ACVW program committee is currently planning a hybrid conference modality that would allow presenters to share their work from afar (and, ideally, to attend any other panel at the conference). We still hope to host folks here in Vermillion, SD, but present realities necessitate at least a hybrid if not a fully online modality. Since so much is up in the air, we will do our best to be as flexible and accommodating as possible; indeed, many of the usual conventions of conference presentations and events may also need rethinking as we move ahead with planning.

The 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf will automatically accept proposals that were accepted in early 2020 but also invites new proposals that address “Profession and Performance”—especially in light of new research interests that speak to the present. These proposals might study a range of topics, including (but not limited to):

  • contemporary adaptations of Woolf, her circles, or her work on stage / screen (e.g., "Vita and Virginia"; "Life in Squares"; etc.)
  • the dynamic link between Woolf’s social critique (what she professed) and her art (its performance)
  • the rich archive of scholarship that brings together studies of the avant-garde, modernism, and the middlebrow
  • intersections of modernist studies and performance studies
  • 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, and declarations)
  • interpretations of Woolf-inspired performance art (e.g., music, dance, theater)
  • profession as (public) performance
  • questions of affect and attachment
  • strong and weak performances / professions / modernisms
  • 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)
  • life-writing as performance of self, professionalization of self
  • gendered performances / performances of gender (on stage / page, in life)
  • professions for women (history of, literary treatments of, performances of)
  • Woolf and developments in medical sciences and psychology
  • teaching Woolf / Woolf as Teacher
  • performing Bloomsbury / performative Bloomsberries
  • the life of the feminist academic; the professionalization and/or institutionalization of feminism outside of academia

Please upload abstracts of 250 words for single papers and 500 words to this Google Form by February 1, 2021. Because our assessments of submissions are anonymous, please refrain from including your name or any other identifying information on the abstract document itself. In addition to your abstract, please also upload a separate cover page that includes:

  • Your name and preferred pronouns
  • Your presentation title
  • Five keywords related to your presentation
  • Your institutional affiliation (if any)
  • Your preferred presentation modality (in-person or virtual)

Note: if you have trouble accessing the Google Form, you may also email your abstract and cover page to

For accepted proposals, we ask that presenters bring access copies of their presentations to their panels or make them available via electronic file.

In addition to traditional presentations, we encourage proposals for virtual workshops and for roundtable or group discussions (such as feminist / queer perspectives, Woolfian pedagogy, staging / performing Woolf, etc.). The conference will also be planning a series of study groups, meant to foster collegial conversation about cutting-edge and urgent topics—all grounded in selected texts. More information about these study groups will be available soon.

The conference welcomes proposals for presentations in languages other than English to foster a more open exchange at this international conference. A few caveats: the organizers ask that all abstracts and proposals be submitted in English. Also, to ensure a more effective exchange among all participants, we ask that non-English presentations be accompanied by a handout of main points in English as well as (if possible) a PowerPoint presentation in English. Note that Q&A sessions will be conducted in English as well.

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