Symposium on Leonard Woolf’s Village in the Jungle

WOOLFVenue: Haldane Room, Wolfson College, Oxford. OX2 6UD. 

The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College is delighted to host this workshop marking the centenary of the publication of Leonard Woolf’s path-breaking first novel, set in then Ceylon, The Village in the Jungle.  Woolf’s novel (the first of only two) is a leading yet often overlooked modernist document and is increasingly recognized as an extraordinarily far-sighted colonial text, an oblique record of his years as a colonial officer in Ceylon (1904-11).  It has also become a foundational novel in the Sri Lankan literary canon.  The workshop will consider Woolf’s radical colonialist legacy, and will explore the relationship of The Village in the Jungle to his later oeuvre of economic theory and political commentary, as well as to the field of post/colonial and empire writing more broadly. We will be interested, too, in the many intertextual links running between the 1910s work of Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, E.M. Forster and others of and related to the Bloomsbury group, and that of Leonard Woolf, and consider some of the intersections between their works and their lives.

 Please address any queries about the symposium to Dominic Davies by emailing

Workshop convenor: Professor Elleke Boehmer

Workshop facilitator: Dominic Davies


 9:30-10:00: Registration

 10-11:15: Opening Keynote

Chandani Lokuge (Monash University, Australia) 

‘Indigenous Tradition and the Western Imagination:

Leonard Woolf’s The Village in the Jungle’

 11:15-11:30: Coffee/Tea

 11:30-12:45: The Village in the Jungle Roundtable

A discussion of key passages from Leonard (and possibly Virginia) Woolf, led by

Elleke Boehmer (Oxford), Hermione Lee (Oxford), Susheila Nasta (OU), Nisha Manocha (Wolfson)

Anna Snaith (KCL), David Trotter (Cambridge) tbc

The readings will be circulated to all participants in advance.

12:45-1:45: Lunch

elephant crossing1:45-3:15: Panel discussion: ‘Perceptions of the Jungle’

Chair: Nicola Robinson (York)

 Ruvani Ranasinha (KCL)

‘The Village in the Jungle then and now/here and there’

Susan Jones (St Hilda’s, Oxford)

‘Visual and kinaesthetic presentations of the jungle’

Dominic Davies (St Anne’s, Oxford)

‘Structural Violence and Violence against Structures in The Village in the Jungle’

Priyasha Mukhopadyay (Wolfson College, Oxford)

‘”Their greasy little notebooks”: Debt and the Headman in The Village in the Jungle’

3:15-3:30: Tea/Coffee

THE WOOLFS3:30-4:45: Closing Plenary

Victoria Glendinning (biographer of Leonard Woolf)

Introduced by Hermione Lee (biographer of Virginia Woolf)

‘The Village in the Jungle as colonial memoir: Woolf writing home’

5:00-6:00: Writers reading

Roshi Fernando

Roma Tearne

OCLW offers sincere thanks to the Wolfson South Asia cluster for its support of the writers’ panel.

In order to register please fill out the form below and return to:

 Symposium: Leonard Woolf’s The Village in the Jungle

Oxford Centre for Life-Writing

Saturday 9th March 2013


Filed under cultural transmission, life stories, literary achievements, sri lankan society, unusual people

3 responses to “Symposium on Leonard Woolf’s Village in the Jungle

  1. This book facinated me when I was a schoolboy. Later it was my English text book for GCE-O level. Had a fabulus English teacher late Mr.Oswin Wright who also loved this book and the Wolfs – Leonard and Virginia. Very happy that this symposium is taking place.

  2. muno- rani il-lankkaren

    Very happy to see anything that has a focus..on our beautifull island.
    hope that you have a decent turn out and see someof you there!!!

  3. muno- rani il-lankkaren

    O and despite our many problems happy independence day to all our people home and abroad………Jayawewa and vanakam

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