11 September 2017

The Education of Sylvia Plath, Smith College, 1952-1953

For her third year at Smith College, Sylvia Plath changed houses from Haven to Lawrence. Lawrence House is a co-operative house and residents performed jobs in exchange for a reduced tuition. Plath roomed this year with Mary Bonneville, a senior. The room numbers have changed, but from descriptions, Plath and Bonneville lived in either room 6 on the second floor or room 24 on the third floor.



With a major of English declared, Plath's studies this year were dominated by courses in this subject. She was required to take a Science course and this caused her quite a bit of concern. Plath was heavily involved with Press Board and other extra-curricular activities. During the first semester, her more-or-less steady boyfriend Richard Norton was diagnosed with tuberculosis while a student at Harvard Medical School and was treated at a sanatorium at Ray Brook, New York.

Plath's notebooks for Medieval Literature, Milton, Modern Poetry, and Physical Science are held in Plath mss II, Lilly Library. Papers or works created for a course which are held by the Lilly Library and listed in their finding aid have been added beneath the course.

English Unit, Medieval Literature: Seminar in Middle English Poetry. Emphasis will be placed on the works of Chaucer, medieval romances, or medieval drama, according to the special needs of the students. Attention will be given not so much to the reading of texts as to problems of research. Mr Howard Rollin Patch.

English Unit, Modern Poetry: Taught by Elizabeth Drew

Edith Sitwell and the Development of Her Poetry, 25 March 1953

English 39b, Milton: Milton. W Th F 2. Eleanor Terry Lincoln.

Chiaroscuro and Counterpoint, 11 May 1953

English 347a, Style and Form: The expression of different kinds of experience. By permission of the instructor. W Th F 2. Mr Robert Gorham Davis.

"Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom"; 12 December 1952; and
"Dialogue", 19 January 1953

English 347b, Techniques of Fiction and Criticism: Techniques of fiction and criticism with some consideration of poetry and expository form. By permission of the instructor. W Th F 2. Robert Gorham Davis.

"Doomsday", 21 February 1953; and
"To a Dissembling Spring", Spring 1953;

Physical Science 193 (a) World of Atoms: The World of Atoms. An introductory study of modern atomic theory by means of relevant aspects of chemistry and physics, including developments of current interest. Emphasis is placed on the logic of science and the nature of the evidence rather than on technical applications. Three lectures and one discussion. Lee. Th F S 9; Dis. W 10, 2. Mr Sherk (Director), Irving L. Kofsky. (Division III)

In the spring semester, Plath audited the following course:

English 44b, Twentieth Century British Literature: Joyce, Yeats, Eliot: M T W 10. Miss Drew.

Her notebook from this course, concentrating on James Joyce, is held by the Lilly Library.

All links accessed 9 August 2017.

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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. "'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.

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