31st Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference

Plenary Speakers

We are pleased to feature four plenary addresses at this year's conference.

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina

Rethinking Bloomsbury and Race in the Wake of BLM

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina is the Paul Murray Kendall Chair in Biography and Professor of English at UMass Amherst. A specialist on the novel and biography, she works in the fields of Black British studies; Victorian studies (including Victorian children’s literature); African American women’s writing (especially Toni Morrison), and mixed race studies. She has published nine books in these fields, with two more in the works, and has published numerous articles and reviews.

In addition, she works extensively in the media in both Britain and America. She hosted a nationally-syndicated author interview program on American public radio for fifteen years and appears regularly in podcasts and on British radio, including hosting a ten-part BBC radio series, “Britain’s Black Past,” among other appearances. She lectures regularly to universities and conferences in both countries, most recently to Oxford, Exeter, MIT, and the British Association of Victorian Studies.


Peter Stansky

Peter Stansky

How the World Turns: Two Examples: Virginia Woolf and the Dreadnought Hoax; The Life of Julian Bell

In an informal and personal talk, Peter Stansky will discuss how the passage of time and changes in interests have shaped how we look at the past. His two examples, based on his own research, will be Virginia Woolf and the Dreadnought Hoax and, in a very different way, the biography of Julian Bell, Virginia Woolf’s nephew and Vanessa Bell’s son, who was killed in the Spanish Civil War.

Educated at Yale, King’s College, Cambridge, and Harvard, Peter Stansky is an emeritus Professor of History at Stanford University. His major areas of interest have been William Morris, the Bloomsbury Group, and George Orwell. On the Bloomsbury Group, he has published On or About December 1910: Early Bloomsbury and Its Intimate World (1996) and is the co-author of Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War (2012) and Leonard Woolf: Bloomsbury Socialist (2019).

Beth Rigel Daugherty

Beth Daugherty

On the Ethics of Teaching: Virginia Woolf’s Essays

"Virginia Woolf disliked preaching and overt moralistic pronouncements. She wasn’t too fond of academics, either. Yet I see her as a pedagogical essayist, often focusing on education but also modeling a pedagogy no matter the topic. For me, exploring the ethics of her essays means exploring the ethics of her pedagogy, the ethics of her teaching, the ethics of our teaching. What do her essays suggest about what it means to be an ethical essayist, critic, teacher?"

Recently retired from Otterbein University, Beth Rigel Daugherty taught there for 36 years. She co-edited, with Mary Beth Pringle, the MLA volume on teaching To the Lighthouse and has published on Virginia Woolf’s essays in edited collections, the Virginia Woolf Miscellany, and Woolf Studies Annual. Her Virginia Woolf’s Apprenticeship: Becoming an Essayist will launch soon from Edinburgh University Press, and she is currently working on its sequel, Virginia Woolf’s Essays: Being a Teacher.


Elsa Högberg

Elsa Högberg

Virginia Woolf's Reparative Ethics

Elsa Högberg is an associate professor and research fellow in English Literature at Uppsala University specializing in literary modernism. Her published work focuses on intimacy, affect, lyric, social justice, precarity, and pacifism as crucial sites where the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of modernism converge. She is the author of Virginia Woolf and the Ethics of Intimacy (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), editor of Modernist Intimacies (Edinburgh University Press, 2021), and co-editor, with Amy Bromley, of Sentencing Orlando: Virginia Woolf and the Morphology of the Modernist Sentence (Edinburgh University Press, 2018), which was shortlisted for the 2019 Modernist Studies Association Book Prize for an Edition, Anthology, or Essay Collection.