Susan Friedman (US) on Virginia Woolf and Kabe Wilson

8:00 pm


Presentation and Discussion | Susan Stanford Friedman (US):
Why We Need Literature, Art, and Fantasy: The Case of Virginia Woolf and Kabe Wilson

Why are literature, art, and fantasy important to the genders and cultures of equality? They don’t offer hard facts, policy initiatives, political strategies, or economic benefits. But they help to make new futures. These projects of the imagination and the study of them need to be vital partners in the making of new futures aimed at social justice for human and non-human worlds.

In this presentation Virginia Woolf Professor Susan Friedman (US) explores what the humanities offer by examining how a hope for a more equitable future can be forged through a creative, even fantastical, engagement with the past. She will discuss the work of Kabe Wilson, a contemporary multimedia artist and novelist, who recycles Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own that makes it usable for the future.
Cutting up Woolf’s essay into word-pieces, he reassembles these words (and only these words) into a novel titled Of One Woman Or So, by Olivia N’Gowfri (an anagram of Woolf’s name and title). It features a mixed-race queer student at Cambridge who burns down the University Library, but stops short of destroying Woolf’s displayed manuscript, deciding instead to “recycle” it. This “remix” performs a fantastical parable of how feminists today can imaginatively engage with the past to remake a more equitable future—not by burning down or ignoring the past but by making the old new.

This presentation was held before at the GRACE conference in Kingston upon Hull (GB) in May 2016.

Susan Stanford Friedman (US) is Hilldale Professor in the Humanities and Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her most recent book is Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time (2015), and she has published widely on modernism, feminist theory, narrative theory, psychoanalysis, migration/diaspora studies, and academic feminism. Currently she is working on Sisters of Scheherazade: Religion, Diaspora, and Muslim Women’s Writing and an edited volume that includes her work on Woolf and Kabe Wilson.