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About the event

“Whenever I felt the shadow of her wing or the radiance of her halo upon my page, I took up the inkpot and flung it at her. She died hard…. Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer.” —Virginia Woolf

In her 1931 speech “Professions for Women,” Virginia Woolf wields a polemic against the "Angel in the House," the Victorian archetype of a selfless, sacrificial woman who devotes herself to soothing, flattering, and comforting the men around her. Taking this text and the exhibition Soft Skills as points of departure, poets Corina Copp and Diana Hamilton will address routines of feminized sociality—including communication and care—in and through the work of writing.

Building on her recent work on humor in Chantal Akerman’s films, Copp will present a performance-lecture set in motion by Frances Stark's telephone motif as "performance-dress." Talking through vocal imitations and dialogic repetitions in cinema, Copp’s performance will culminate in a theatrical script that models the emotional labor of phone conversations.

Hamilton's book of poetry, Okay, Okay, focuses on crying in the workplace (among other inappropriate places), collecting, for example, women's strategies for hiding their tears, together with managerial advice about keeping it together and paranoid descriptions of office floorplans. In addition to reading from this work, Hamilton will discuss the question of "empathy" as it is coded as hard, easy, soft—and how we might separate "empathy" from its marketability.