Monday, November 12, 2007

Woolf World Proposal

Project for a Virtual Bloomsbury (WoolfWorld?)
Elisa Kay Sparks and Jan Holmevik

We would like to collaborate on building a portal for the Virginia Woolf community, a virtual Bloomsbury in Second Life, where researchers and students, and common readers interested in or working on Virginia Woolf and associated Modernist figures could meet, post, and exchange information and resources in a communally created virtual space which is appropriate to and actually teaches about the social and historical environment of the Modernist milieu. While this space would initially service my graduate seminar on Modernist London (Engl 814) and my senior seminar on T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf (Engl 496), it could also involve quite a range of other programs at Clemson, including the RCID colloquia on Serious Games and Space/Place as well as collaborations with the departments of Art and Computer Science. The resulting site would be an interdisciplinary resource for the world-wide community of those researching and enjoying modernist arts. (Painting, photography, dance, interior design, and fashion are all commonly explored in Modernist studies)

There is a long-standing interest in the Woolf community in building some kind of network of shared digital resources, often referred to as “Virtual Bloomsbury.” The first step in the creation of this collaborative platform was the establishment of the on-line Center for Virginia Woolf Studies by Vara Neverow at Southern Connecticut State Universityand Merry Pawlowski at Cal State, Bakersfield. Their archive contains, among other things, a complete digital facsimile of Woolf’s working notebooks for her feminist treatise, Three Guineas. The Virginia Woolf Society of Japan maintains a large collection of links on Woolf And there is a very active listserve. The Woolf community meets and maintains tights bonds through annual conferences, which increasingly alternate between US and British sites. A platform in Second Life would help to further integrate all these resources as well as providing a virtual space for international meetings and exchange.

Clemson University is uniquely positioned to play an important leadership role in carrying the virtual Bloomsbury project to the next level. Under the auspices of the South Carolina Review and the Clemson University Digital Press, Wayne Chapman has now taken over publication of the annual Virginia Woolf Conference proceedings from Pace University Press, even collaborating with the British Woolf scholars to select and edit pieces from previous conferences which had never been collected. (the web-versions of these proceedings are available at the Center for Woolf Studies web site) Dr. Chapman has also pursued a vigorous program of publishing other works on Woolf . See In addition Elisa Sparks has an extensive series of websites on Woolf, T.S. Eliot, and other modernist figures created for various courses over the years, containing numerous PowerPoints, compiled from the hundreds of photos taken of relevant locations on her many trips to England. See: and
Between these two archives, we at Clemson already have the largest collection of original scholarship on Woolf on the web.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Virtual Spaces in Woolf World

I've been thinking some about what kinds of spaces we need in Woolf World. I started off with practical things:

  • A fairly small meeting space for classes etc. (I immediately think of Gordon Sq.--which was used as a front/back yard by many of its inhabitants. I've got lots of pictures of it in its present configuration... Nice research project to try to reconstruct it pre-WWII.)

  • This is a woodcut Roger Fry did of people walking and sitting and dozing in Gorgon Sq.

  • If we want a private meeting space--Fitzroy Sq is currently still restricted in RL...Big iron fence; residents only...
  • Some kind of larger meeting space for conferences or other presentations--more oriented towards some kind of procenium/ screen
  • A large library space--full of links to on-line libraries as well as web sites and on-line texts, etc. A special scriptorium section of this could include virtual editions of altered books from classes.
  • A salesroom/ display space for products generated. I have already dubbed that Omega Workshop, since that is the name of the collaborative workshop that Roger Fry set up (in Fitzroy SQ) in 1913 to create and sell all kinds of art/craft objects: clothing, fabric, rugs, furniture, ceramics (including tiles), whole interior decorating schemes, including wall murals. For more on Omega see Denise Randle's web site at: Here's a web site with a facsimilie of the original Omega Workshop catalogue:
  • A map room or travel agency or tour center where we could collect links etc. to the Mrs. Dalloway walk, Google Earth, virtual London etc..

Beyond these practical spaces, I also am very excited about trying to re-create a certain number of virtual rooms and houses.

  • Chris Reed's wonderful book, Bloomsbury Rooms, provides a lot of black and white pictures of Omega-designed rooms--wouldn't it be lovely to be able to recreate some of these to walk around in?

  • It is also tempting to try to recreate important Bloomsbury residences, such as Monk's House and Charleston... However, we have to be careful about these, as there are security and copyright problems. The Trusts at both places don't allow interior photography for security reasons--don't want too much detail out there-- and also generally want some control over images.

Getting Started

I am setting up this blog as a place to think about and record my explorations of Second Life.

I am working with several collegues at Clemson, especially Jan Holmevik, to research how 2L can be put to academic use: both as a pedagogical medium and as a portal for professional research and exchange. We are contemplating buying an island, part of which will be devoted to "WoolfWorld," a Virtual Bloombury project.

Here's my first e-mail about it, followed by a more formal proposal write-up:

Dear all--

I am teaching my Modernist London Grad seminar in the Spring in MATRF. I've re-titled and re-described it to include my recent work in Space/Place, but today's Second Life demo made me wonder if there is some way I could create a space on the graduate island for housing visual archives for the course.

There is a fairly strong interest in Woolf studies in the compilation of some kind of "Virtual Bloomsbury": the cooperation between Clemson Digital Press and the Center for Virginia Woolf Studies (Housed at California State University, Bakersfield)
is an example of how far this process has developed in terms of archiving and producing publications.

I don't really know what I am thinking, but I have quite extensive visual archives on Woolf (and T.S. Eliot)
including PowerPoints illustrating many aspects of their lives and works, and my grad students have been creating a series of visual seminar reports and altered books for the course, many examples of which I have archived. It seems like housing these in Second Life might be a good way to create an on-line community and the next step in virtual Bloomsbury.

There is already a virtual London group on-line

I bet if I sent out a call for participants on the Woolf list serv, we might get some takers… But I have no idea really what is possible or how much work it would be. I am interested in feedback on these as yet quite vague possibilities..