08 June 2014

Sylvia Plath: Covering the Crisis

This is a second post on recently found articles authored by (or in some instances possibly/probably authored by) Sylvia Plath. The first article was posted on 20 May 2014. This post presents two new, additional newly found articles authored by Sylvia Plath.

On 4 and 5 February 1952, Sylvia Plath attended two lectures on the campus of Smith College for Press Board. The lectures were conducted American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who was at the time professor of Christian ethics at Yale University. She wrote about covering the lecture in letters to her mother dated on 4 February and 6 February. The 6 February letter was included in Letters Home (page 83), but was printed—like many—under the postmark date of 7 February.

Plath's calendar for 1952, held by Lilly Library, confirms that she attended the lecture, held in the Browsing Room of the Neilson Library, at 8:00 pm on 4 February; and that she had an "early writeup" due to the Springfield Union by 11 pm. A note on the 5th indicates that the Niebuhr article was due at 8:30. (I think this would be 8:30 am).

In a bit edited out of the 6 February 1952 letter, Plath writes that she felt professional having to call in the news story to the newspaper "last night" (i.e. the 5th). So, while some of these dates and times are hard to match up or really make sense of, what we know is that Plath attended the lectures for Press Board, wrote up article(s) on them, and telephoned the article at least one of them in to the Springfield Union. But, did the article(s) run?

If you look for anything dated 5 or 6 February 1952 in Stephen Tabor's Sylvia Plath: An Analytical Bibliography you will not find anything. However, if you look at the microfilm for the Springfield Union, you will. This post, therefore, presents two new additional newly found articles authored by Sylvia Plath (see this post on another recently located article by Plath).

"Universal Faith Has the Answer, Dr. Niebuhr Says" ran in the Springfield Union on 5 February 1952, on page 21. The article is unattributed, but there should be confidence based on Plath's letters and calendar that she did in fact author this piece. The article is a review of Niebuhr's lecture "The Cultural Crisis" which opened the Religious Association forum at Smith College on the theme of "The shaping of the foundation".

"'Crisis' Is Topic of Dr. Niebuhr In Northampton" ran in the Springfield Union on 6 February 1952, on page 21. This article is a review of Niebuhr's second lecture, "The Personal Crisis", and this is the one that Plath telephoned in late on the 5th.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that there must exist some doubt in Plath's authorship because a) she does not get a byline and b) there does not to my knowledge exist any documentary evidence of an article (typescript) authored by her. However, we do have her letters and her calendar to lend some support in favor of the claim of Plath authoring these articles.

When we think of Sylvia Plath, we think first of her poetry and novel The Bell Jar, as well as her short stories, her letters, and journals. The "journalistic" Plath might be the lesser known of all her writerly selves, but it is no less important. She dedicated two full academic years to this kind of writing, and published full-length articles, often illustrated, for the Christian Science Monitor off and on in college, but then also periodically between 1956 and 1959. There are varying degrees in these writing, some are impersonal, such as her write-ups for press board, which merely recap the event(s) covered. On the contrary, the articles that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, and even is Isis and Punch are closer to her creative writing in that there is something "personal" about them, something to do with an experience, her experience.

All links accessed on 30 May 2014.

1 comment :

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

Thank you! I love how the Plath world continues to expand...

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Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1, 1940-1956. London: Faber, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.