• Sylvia Plath

Labarge, Emily, 2018, Book Section, Sylvia Plath In: Beber, Emmy, (ed.) The Bodies That Remain. Punctum Books, Santa Barbara, CA, US, pp. 269-297. ISBN 978-1947447677

Abstract or Description:

‘Sylvia Plath’ is an 8000 word creative and critical essay about the work and life of American poet Sylvia Plath. I was commissioned to write this piece based the author’s expertise writing about literature and art by modern and contemporary female practitioners and, in particular, her use of experimental forms to do so. The research that underpins the book chapter was undertaken with the explicit aim of interrogating and revealing the role of the body—the language and imagery with which it is rendered, excavated, questioned, and often dismantled—within the poetry and prose of the American poet; as well as its relationship to biographical criticism of Plath’s work. Plath has received a large amount of attention and scholarship, particularly within literary studies academic and mainstream, but no research to this date has focused on the issue of the body within her work. The book chapter is underpinned by extensive primary (Plath’s poetry and prose, her diaries, archival interviews, unpublished manuscripts and notes) and secondary (biographies, non-fiction accounts, reviews, criticism and academic publications) research. It is also an experiment in literary biography and essay writing: a reflexive investigation of its subject with attention to content and formally innovative writing.

The essay undertakes comprehensive research to provide a survey of the role of the body within Plath’s work; to critically engage with the specifics of her language and imagery, as well how they relate to historical and contemporary biography and feminist theory; and to produce an experimental creative work that fuses critical and creative modes of writing. The form and the content of the essay are innovative within the field of Plath scholarship, as well as that of creative-critical writing. The writerly methodology employed opens up a visceral, vivid and embodied experience of Plath’s work that challenges conventions of writing ‘the body’; and which argues for literary criticism as a field of expansive, hybrid writing. Across these disciplines, it engages with shared concerns, both academic and creative, to produce a piece of writing that provides new and critical insights about the role of the body across Plath’s oeuvre—in particular, challenging overly biographical, literal readings of the poet’s work and the place of her body (and the abstract, imaginative body) within it.

Official URL: https://punctumbooks.com/titles/the-bodies-that-re...
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W800 Imaginative Writing > W830 Prose Writing
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.21983/P3.0212.1.00
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2020 13:13
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2020 19:19
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4458
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