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The New York Public Library Celebrates Virginia Woolf: Goddesses and Ghosts: Virginia Woolf and Jane Ellen Harrison In Conversation

October 19, 2010

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Please join for a 3-day Festival of Lectures on Virginia Woolf.  Professors Jean Mills and Anne Fernald, writers in residence at The New York Public Library's  Wertheim Study, and Isaac Gewirtz, Curator of The New York Public Library’s Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, will present free and open public lectures on various aspects of this great modernist author.

Jean Mills presents "Goddesses and Ghosts: Virginia Woolf and Jane Ellen Harrison In Conversation" which explores the boundaries and origins of Woolf’s intellectual and political views by definitively positioning her in dialogue with the theories and practices of Cambridge Classicist, Jane Ellen Harrison. While Jane Harrison is known to historians of anthropology and those searching for the origins of Structuralism, she is more frequently remembered as the intellectual leader of the Cambridge Ritualists, a community of scholars pushing the disciplinary boundaries of Classics as they created new fields in anthropology and archaeology. Harrison’s pioneering work on the matrifocal origins of Greek religion marked only the beginning of the profound effect Harrison’s ideas had on Virginia Woolf. In addition to charting markers of Harrison’s feminist mythography in Woolf’s writing life, Goddesses and Ghosts argues that the questions preoccupying Harrison, especially in terms of her feminism and her pacifism, resonated with Woolf as she adapted these ideas to her own intellectual pursuits. By restoring the connections between these two major feminist intellectuals, she will show the significance of the questions they grappled with to their own time and the relevance of their ideas to contemporary audiences today.

Jean Mills’ most recent essay “The Writer, the Prince, and the Scholar: Virginia Woolf, D.S. Mirsky, and Jane Ellen Harrison’s Russian Translation of The Life of the Archpriest Avvakum, by Himself—A Re-Evaluation of the Radical Politics of the Hogarth Press” will be published this fall in the anthology Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press—Networks of Modernism (Edinburgh Press, 2010). In addition to publishing articles on Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein, she has recently created a podcast on Modern art at MoMA as part of an NEH grant “Making Objects Speak” introducing undergraduate students to museums.  She is a frequent panelist and seminar discussant at conferences on Virginia Woolf and Modernist Studies and has lectured publicly on Virginia Woolf, Modernism and the 20th century. She is an Assistant Professor at John Jay College, The City University of New York, and is currently finishing a book on Virginia Woolf, Jane Ellen Harrison, and the Classics.