01 October 2010

Forthcoming Book: Representing Sylvia Plath

The Plathosphere is anticipating Representing Sylvia Plath, a collection of essays on Plath edited by the estimable duo of Sally Bayley (Oxford University) and Tracy Brain (Bath Spa University). The publisher is Cambridge University Press and the publication date is looking like April or June 2011.

The table of contents looks like this:

Introduction: ‘Purdah’ and the Enigma of Representation by Sally Bayley and Tracy Brain

Part I: Contexts

Aesthetics and Ideology: Judging Plath’s Letters by Jonathan Ellis

The Photographic Chamber of the Eye: Plath Photography, and the Post-Confessional Muse by Anita Helle

‘O the tangles of that old bed’: Fantasies of Incest and the ‘Daddy’ Narrative in Ariel by Lynda K. Bundtzen

Plath and Torture: Literary and Cultural Contexts for Plath’s Use of the Holocaust by Steven Gould Axelrod

Part II: Poetics and Composition

‘The Trees of the Mind are Black, The Light is Blue’: Sublime Encounters in Sylvia Plath’s Tree Poems by Sally Bayley

Coming to Terms with Colour: Plath’s Visual Aesthetic by Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty

Madonna (of the Refrigerator): Mapping Sylvia Plath’s Double in ‘The Babysitters’ Drafts by Kathleen Connors

Procrustean Identity: Sylvia Plath’s Women’s Magazine Fiction by Luke Ferretter

Part III: Representation

Confession, Contrition, and Concealment: Evoking Plath in Ted Hughes’s Howls & Whispers by Lynda K. Bundtzen

Fictionalising Sylvia Plath by Tracy Brain

Primary Representations: Three Artists Respond to Sylvia Plath
Adolescent Plath—The Girl Who Would Be God by Suzie Hanna
Bodily Imprints: A Choreographic Response to Sylvia Plath’s Poppy Poems by Kate Flatt (with Sally Bayley)
Stella Vine’s Peanut Crunching Plath by Sally Bayley

Many of these essays take root from papers given at the 2007 Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Oxford in October 2007. There is no doubt that these essays will add significantly to a growing scholarship on Plath which makes use of not only primary materials, but of Sylvia Plath herself as a subject; a subject that shifts and is being remade and reinterpreted by writers and artists.


Paull Hammond-Davies said...

This book looks very interesting - especially after the excellent 'The Unraveling Archive' collection of essays which I enjoyed immensely. I do hope you are going to undertake a round up of books for the end of the year as I fear I have lost track of all the new titles which came out this year.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Hi Paull,

I do plan a little year in review as I've done the last few years and will certainly give a rundown of what has come out and what I felt like were hits and misses.


Anonymous said...

Wow, is it just me or has Plath scholarship hit a purple patch?! There seems to be no better time for readers to be interested in her work and world. Very much looking forward to this addition to the pile.

Peter K Steinberg said...


I couldn't agree with you more. The quantity & quality of writing on Plath has been outstanding in the 21st century. That is not to say there weren't bombs & blips. This stems I think from 2000 when her Unabridged Journals came out.

The essay it seems is the 'it' format in which to do this. Critical studies are mostly just compiled individual essays. But the books of essays like Eye Rhymes, The Unravelling Archive, and Jo Gill's Cambridge Companion (to name just a few) really exemplify this. Plath Profiles, too, is contributing in ways weveildly never imagined. It's offering an annual dosage that I hope can and will continue to excite and be interesting and relative.

But, it has also been what 20 years since a full length biography was published! How far things have come, how much more do we know now!?!? With any amount of cooperation from the Estate, a more careful biography could be written that would solidify a shift in Plath's reception. I'm getting chills thinking about the possibility!!


Peter K Steinberg said...

Thinking about this... Do you all have a favorite book of essays, a favorite essay, or something along these lines that you feel contributes most to this purple patch? Or gas made the most impact? Or no impact?


Anonymous said...

Excellent news! I really liked Tracy's 1st book on Plath and look forward to reading more from her. As you mention, it looks like Lynda expanded her lunchtime talk at the Plath symposium into a longer essay. So something to look forward to during the long winter... kim

Melanie Smith said...

OOH very excited, will definitely be keeping an eye out for this - some of the pieces sound particularly excellent.

Julia said...

I can't wait until I can release my stuff on "Purdah" and "Daddy"-- I wonder if they're even close to finding what I've found.

The excitement builds...

Anonymous said...

It is probable that as you are looking for different things you are finding different things, based on your comments on this blog and your paper in Plath Profiles. I don't think in the kind of esoteric literary criticism that you are involved in Julia that your findings will be remotely "close."

Julia said...

I might surprise you.

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