28 July 2009

New article published on Sylvia Plath

Plath Profiles 2 is just around the corner, but in the meantime, Plath is receiving attention in other scholarly journals.

Scott Knickerbocker recently published "'Bodied Forth in Words': Sylvia Plath's Ecopoetics". This paper is in College Literature 36:3, Summer 2009, pages 1-27.

Here is Knickerbocker's abstract:

"Plath demonstrates a combined interest in the texture of the natural world and the texture of language, which in her poems enacts and does not merely represent that world. Her unfortunate categorization as a 'confessional' poet as well as critics’ obsession with her biography have resulted in, on one hand, an underestimation of Plath’s engagement with the “real world” beyond her subjectivity, and on the other hand, an insufficient consideration of the craft and formal properties of her poems. She was, from an early age, drawn to the natural world, although she was equally fascinated by the sounds of language. Plath’s sense of irony and linguistic awareness, that is, puts her in a different category from that of a mere nature lover. Her poetry derives its power from the generative friction between speakers and a nonhuman world that resists figurative appropriation. For Plath, this resistance is itself to be figured forth, creating the formal reverberations with which her poems still startle us."

Thanks to Amanda for pointing out Knickerbocker's paper. If anyone else out there finds a new article on (or has written one), please let me know.

P.S. As of this morning the summer 2009 issue was not listed as the "current" issue on College Literature's website. It is available through Project Muse if you have access to this database.


Jinghua FAN 得一忘二 said...

It is fascinating that Plath uses so many plant and animal images in her poetry. I have been thinking about writing on the topic for quite some time.

Melanie Smith said...

Thank you for this Peter, will try and hunt down a copy.

BridgetAnna said...

"Her unfortunate categorization as a 'confessional' poet" - ? Why is that considered 'unfortunate'? I guess I just don't see it that way.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Hi BridgetAnna,

I suspect many scholars find Plath's inclusion with the Confessionals to be detrimental to her reputation and reception. Their writing (Sexton and Lowell's, etc.) being so much more nakedly in that vein than Plath's. I think the Confessionals, many of whom outlived Plath, necessarily developed in a way Plath could not have - having died. And thus while Plath was early lumped in with them, she has posthumously tried to crawl out of the confessional bottle in which she lived for a time.


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