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Lecture 14: "To speke of wo that Is in mariage"


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Slideshow for the fourteenth lecture in my summer course, English 10, "Introduction to Literary Studies: Deception, Dishonesty, Bullshit."

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Lecture 14: "To speke of wo that Is in mariage"

  1. 1. Lecture 14: “To speke of wo that is in mariage”* PATRICK MOONEY, M.A. ENGLISH 10, SUMMER SESSION A 14 JULY 2105 * Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue” in The Canterbury Tales
  2. 2. Sylvia Plath (1932–1963) ● Best known for two collections of poetry published during her lifetime, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. – Also authored short stories and one novel, The Bell Jar. ● Studied at Smith College and the University of Cambridge. ● Married Cambridge poet Ted Hughes, 16 June 1956; separated September 1962. ● Primarily known as a “confessional” poet …
  3. 3. “ ” Lowell’s “Skunk Hour” and Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” were true examples [of confessional poetry] because they put the speaker at the center of the poem in such a way as to make his psychological vulnerability and shame an embodiment of his civilization. . . . [A] genuine confessional poem has to be superbly successful artistically if it is to achieve this fusion of the private and the culturally symbolic, but it must at any rate be far more highly charged than the usual poem. M.L. Rosenthal on “confessional” poetry (1967)
  4. 4. “Daddy” (October 12, 1962) Otto Plath in 1930 In the German tongue, in the Polish town, Scraped flat by the roller Of wars, wars, wars. But the name of the town is common. My Pollack friend Says there are a dozen or two. So I never could tell where you Put your foot, your root, I never could talk to you. The tongue stuck in my jaw.
  5. 5. Perhaps you consider yourself an oracle, Mouthpiece of the dead, or of some god or other. Thirty years now I have labored To dredge the silt from your throat. I am none the wiser. Scaling little ladders with gluepots and pails of Lysol I crawl like an ant in mourning Over the weedy acres of your brow To mend the immense skull-plates and clear The bald, white tumuli of your eyes. “The Colossus”
  6. 6. Edward “Ted” Hughes (1930–1998) ● Degree in anthropology and archaeology, Pembroke College, 1951. ● Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, 1984–1998. – But only after Philip Larkin declined. ● Began an affair with Assia Weevil, summer 1962; separated from Plath, September 1962. ● Publisher (including of Seamus Heaney, week 6); also known for his poetry and fiction for children. ● Received death threats for several decades after Plath’s suicide.
  7. 7. “ ” What is theory the theory of? I went to this little celebration and that's actually where we met... Then we saw a great deal of each other. Ted came back to Cambridge and suddenly we found ourselves getting married a few months later... We kept writing poems to each other. Then it just grew out of that, I guess, a feeling that we both were writing so much and having such a fine time doing it, we decided that this should keep on. Plath in a 1961 BBC radio interview
  8. 8. Your worst dream Came true: that ring on the door-bell – Not a simple chance in a billion But a meteorite, straight down our chimney, With our name on it. [….......................................................] ‘And for you,’ you said to me, ‘permission To remember this dream. And think about it.’ – “A Dream”
  9. 9. Your worship needed a god. Where it lacked one, it found one. Ordinary jocks became gods – Deified by your infatuation That seemed to have been designed at birth for a god. It was a godseeker. A god-finder. Your Daddy had been aiming you at God. When his death touched the trigger. “The Shot”
  10. 10. The photo of Otto Plath (slide 3) is likely still under copyright, but I believe the use of a low-resolution version in an educational context to illustrate a relevant poem by his daughter that mentions that very photo qualifies as “fair use” under a rationale similar to that mentioned by the Wikimedia Foundation. More details available at the original source: lackboard_in_1930.gif Media credits