The literature and gender seminar about Woolf


Date: Wednesday 24 May 2023

Time: 15.00 – 17.00

Location: The library at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Frescativägen 24 E, and online via Zoom

Guest lecture by Elsa Högberg, Uppsala University. Open to all. Language: English.

Porträttfoto av Virginia Woolf från 1927
Virginia Woolf, 1927.

Part of The literature and gender seminar at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics.

Title: Virginia Woolf: Pleasure, Intimacy and the Politics of Reparative Reading

Link to the seminar in Zoom:



This lecture attends to the psychological and political potentialities, or latent capacities, of pleasure and intimacy in Virginia Woolf’s writing. It engages theorists including Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Melanie Klein and Julia Kristeva to consider Woolf’s writing and the reading practices it elicits as reparative ways of enabling what Sedgwick calls “‘care of the self,’ the often very fragile concern to provide the self with pleasure and nourishment in an environment that is perceived as not particularly offering them” (Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity) – a pleasurable form of self-care that, for Woolf, is vital to the capacity to care for others and imagine caring social and geopolitical systems. It reads Woolf’s aesthetic joining of intimacy and pleasure as a revolt against repressive and threatening conditions such as intensified censorship and the emergence of total war, and as a major site for the Bloomsbury group’s ambition to make their art and politics help bring about a more progressive society protective of peace, human well-being, gender equality and the free expression of non-heteronormative intimacies.


Speaker bio

Elsa Högberg is an Associate Professor in English at Uppsala University specialising in literary modernism. Her published research 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).