30 April 2007

UPDATED: Plath Symposium information

The Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Oxford, UK

The Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium, to be held at Oxford from October 25-29, 2007, commemorates the 75th birthday of this influential American writer with a literary conference and multi-disciplinary art programs. The event is sponsored by Oxford's Rothermere American Institute and English Faculty, and Indiana University's Department of English and Office of the Chancellor, which hosted the Sylvia Plath 70th Year Symposium (www.iub.edu/~plath70), and now extends the 2002 interdisciplinary events to include new art forms. Co-directed by Sally Bayley of Oxford and Visiting Scholar Kathleen Connors of Indiana University, the project brings together renowned international scholars, biographers and students, as well as poets, musicians, actors, and visual artists who share an interest in the works of Plath.

The central organizing theme of the Symposium is Sylvia Plath’s artistic “process and product,” a concentration that bypasses what has become a common focus on her personal tragedy. Yet in recognizing Plath’s iconic status over the last four decades, as a figure of controversy as well as inspiration, both scholarly and popular topics on the artist’s personal life and works will be addressed. The inclusion of popular musicians and actors for Plath's birthday performance on the evening of Saturday, October 27, at St. James Church in London's Piccadilly neighborhood, highlights Plath's larger public appeal and breadth of audience—including those who have acknowledged positive influence from the life and works of Sylvia Plath. Tori Amos and Alanis Morisette, two major poet/musicians, are the primary music acts being pursued for this major celebration, open to the public. Actors with special interests in Plath will also be pursued for performances or poetry readings. Preceeding the concert, a cocktail party sponsored by Plath scholar and writer Diane Middlebrook will take place in London for Symposium speakers, artists and special guests.

Fifteen renowned Plath scholars will lead the literary conference as featured speakers (www.plathsymposium2007.org), with 60 delegates giving paper topics in panel discussions, and numerous artists discussing their work in various settings. Among the first responses to the Call for Papers, in fact, are scholars from Iran, Tunisia, Norway, Macedonia, Japan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Australia and Singapore, confirming the truly international scope of Plath studies. Approximately twenty featured artists—many well-known in the UK and US —will be showcasing their talents, representing the visual and performing arts. The Oxford Playhouse performance on the evening of Sunday, October 28 includes a reading of Plath's radio play “Three Women” at the Oxford Playhouse, performed by British actors Lynne Farleigh, Mary Nighy and Diana Quick which Phyllida Lloyd, Visiting Cameron Mackintosh Professor, Oxford University, has agreed to direct; Elisabeth Gray's short play; actor Rose Heiney's cabaret piece based on Plath's famous “Lady Lazarus” poem; opera singer Laura Mayhew's commissioned piece with Julian Drake performing a work on piano by composer Will May; Plath's "Bee Sequence" poems will be read with photo slide show of works by Adele Goodine; and Clive James, poet, journalist, essayist and broadcaster, will be writing a poem for the Symposium, as will Catherine Bowman, Director of Creative Writing at Indiana University.

Along with fine art prints by Cassandra Slone, Adele Goodine and other guest artists used to promote events, visual art offerings will include fiber artist Ann Dingsdale's series of textile visual biographies to commemorate aspects of Plath’s life, and bookmaker Enid Mark will have her mutli-medium book About Sylvia and other hand-made productions exhibited. Two films based on Plath's art by the late British filmmaker Sandra Lahire will be shown, along with a commissioned piece of animation by professional animator Suzie Hanna with sound designer Tom Simmons, will be shown at the Oxford Playhouse on Friday, October 26. A special Youth Panel will allow high school and undergraduate students to present their literary work, and student interns from Indiana, Pennsylvania and Oxford Universities will assist in all stages of planning and production. The Symposium will also be documented as a pilot model for regional, national and international collaborations on broad-reaching pedagogy and interdisciplinary initiatives. Featured speakers will be videotaped for pedagogy purposes.

Symposium Co-director Kathleen Connors, Department of English, Indiana University kdconnor@indiana.edu (812) 339-2704

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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." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • 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 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: 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.