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News & Events > Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Smith College > Plath Conference Speaker Biographies

Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Smith College
Speaker Biographies

April 25-26, 2008 - schedule of events

Aubrey Menard
Smith Class of 2008

Aubrey Menard is a senior at Smith College and a student assistant in the Mortimer Rare Book Room. She is currently doing a special studies project on Sylvia Plath under the guidance of Karen Kukil (Associate Curator of Special Collections) and Cornelia Pearsall (Professor of English Language and Literature). She presented her paper, “‘Two Roses’: Sylvia Plath’s Entrance into the Matrilineal Cycle” at the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at the University of Oxford in October 2007. She has received an Everett Helm Visiting Research Fellowship to study the Sylvia Plath Collection at the University of Indiana’s Lilly Library. Aubrey is organizing the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Smith College as a component of her special studies project.

Aubrey Menard '08

Aubrey Menard, Class of '08

Helen Decker

Helen Decker, Poet and Teacher

Helen Decker
Moderator of "Sylvia Plath, Women, and Motherhood"

Helen Decker is a poet and teacher. She is a Ph.D. student of English at The CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Presently, she is working on a project titled: "Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes: Side by Side", which she presented at The 75th Sylvia Plath Symposium at Oxford University in October.

Luke Ferretter
Moderator of "Putting Plath in Context"

Luke Ferretter is Assistant Professor of English at Baylor University, where he teaches 20th century British and American literature and critical theory. He is currently writing a study of Plath's fiction for Edinburgh University Press, and has essays forthcoming on Plath's women's magazine fiction and on her relationship to feminist psychiatry. He has published two books in critical theory, and several articles and essays in 20th century literature and theory, on authors from Derrida and Kristeva to D.H. Lawrence and Hanif Kureishi.

Luke Ferretter

Luke Ferretter, Assistant Professor of English, Baylor University

Judith Glazer-Raymo

Judith Glazer-Raymo '53,
Columbia University

Judith Glazer-Raymo
Moderator of "Plath on War and Politics"

Judith Glazer Raymo is Lecturer and Fellow of the Higher and Postsecondary Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University and Professor Emerita of Education at Long Island University. Her research and scholarship focus on gender equity, graduate education restructuring, and university governance and leadership. Her forthcoming edited book, Unfinished Agendas: New and continuing gender challenges in higher education, being published by Johns Hopkins University Press is due out in June 2008. It is a "sequel" to Shattering the myths: Women in academe (1999), for which she received the Outstanding Publication Award from the Postsecondary Division of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She is also the author of Professionalizing graduate education: The master's degree in the marketplace (2005) and other publications. Judith has been the recipient of the leadership award (2007) and the Research Achievement Award (2004) from the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Trustees Award for Scholarly Achievement from Long Island University (2001), and the Willystine Goodsell award for scholarship, activism and community building from AERA (2001). She received her BA in English from Smith College and her PhD in Higher Education from New York University.

Elinor Friedman Klein ’56
Friend of Sylvia Plath

Elinor Friedman Klein graduated from Smith College in 1956. From there, she went on to work for CBS Television as a Production Assistant on the last live television hour-long program from New York City called The Seven Lively Arts. After her work in television, she began to earn her living as a writer, working for the Herald Tribune for fifteen years. She then freelanced for nearly every magazine and a few newspapers including Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times, and House Beautiful. She was also co-editor and a feature writer for Parade Magazine. She wrote and published two novels, Dazzle and Tryptich, both of which were Book-of-the-Month Club choices. She is currently writing a play.

Elinor Friedman Klein

Elinor Friedman Klein '56
Friend of Sylvia Plath

Judith Kroll '64

Judith Kroll '64, Acquaintance of Aurelia Plath and Others

Judith Kroll, '64
Acquaintance of Aurelia Plath and Others

Judith Kroll transferred to Smith College in 1961, only six years after Sylvia Plath had graduated. One of Kroll's teachers was Prof. Alfred Young Fisher (Plath's instructor for independent studies in poetry writing). When Plath's first book of poems, The Colossus, was published in the US in 1962. Fisher asked Kroll to read and discuss it with him, and he also spoke to her of his recent correspondence with Plath.

After graduating from Smith in 1964, Kroll entered the PhD program at Yale. When Kroll read Ariel (after its 1965 publication in England), she was amazed at its brilliance, and by 1967 she was working on Plath. Her dissertation on Plath was submitted in 1974. Because Yale dissertations had to be microfilmed, Kroll needed copyright permissions, so she sent a copy of her work to Olwyn Hughes (the sister of Plath's husband Ted Hughes who, after Plath's death, was helping Ted Hughes to look after the literary estate). Olwyn Hughes granted the dissertation permissions, and also passed on Kroll's PhD manuscript to Ted Hughes. Shortly before this, she had asked Kroll to work on establishing the text for an edition of Plath's Collected Poems.

Often using Plath's original manuscripts, Kroll worked on the Collected Poems for five weeks in the summer of 1974, which included spending five days at Plath's Devon home, Court Green, along with Olwyn Hughes, Ted Hughes, and Ted's wife Carol. While at Court Green, Ted Hughes spoke with Kroll from notes he had made about her dissertation. Kroll will read some brief remarks from these notes, particularly about Plath's poem "Medusa," which became an object of contention. (Ted and Olwyn wanted Kroll to cut much of her "Medusa" discussion, and were apparently unaware that this was never done). The discussion appeared uncut when, in 1976, Kroll's dissertation was published, in revised form, as Chapters in a Mythology: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath--the first full-length critical study of Plath's poetry.

Several years after publishing Chapters in a Mythology, Kroll met Aurelia Plath for the first time, gave her a copy of the book, and told her the story. The letter Aurelia Plath wrote to Kroll following this meeting is in the Smith archives. Kroll will read this letter and describe her meeting with Aurelia Plath. A new long introduction to Chapters in a Mythology, containing much of this material and other information as well, was published in October 2007 in a UK edition of Kroll's book.

Kroll taught English and poetry writing at Vassar (1968-75) and then spent 10 years living with her husband in India. Since 1989, she has taught poetry writing and occasional Asian Studies courses at The University of Texas at Austin. Apart from Chapters in a Mythology, she has published two collections of her own poetry and several hundred poems in literary magazines; collaborative translations from Indian languages (Kannada and Sanskrit); and personal essays. She also wrote the biographical essay on Plath for Notable American Women (and will read some notes that Aurelia Plath wrote to her about this), and worked as a consultant on the PBS 'Voices & Visions' series, which included a segment on Sylvia Plath.

Patrick O'Connor

Patrick O'Connor graduated from UMass Dartmouth in 2007 with an honors degree in history. His senior thesis contemplated the politics of historical preservation in small towns. At UMass, he studied Sylvia Plath under Professor Richard Larschan, and in October, traveled to Oxford to present his work on Plath and Cold War politics. He currently works as the director of the Belchertown (MA) Teen Center and teaches classes on literature at Belchertown's Clapp Memorial Library.

Patrick O'Connor, Plath Scholar
UMass Dartmouth '07

Patrick O'Connor

Marcia Brown Stern '54

Marcia Brown Stern '54, Friend and Smith College Roommate of Sylvia Plath

Marcia Brown Stern ’54
Friend and Smith College Roommate of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath and I met at the beginning of our freshman year at Smith when we both arrived in Haven House in September l950. Different as we were in stature, habits, temperament and talents, we got along very well and decided to work together during the following summer and to room together our sophomore year.

We were hired for the summer of 1951 as “mother’s helpers” for a large and wealthy family of a Smith alum who lived on the north shore of Massachusetts. Sylvia’s poem “The Babysitters” recalls some of the adventures and adversities of that experience. (Many years later I was the model for Jodie in The Bell Jar.)

Our friendship was held together by visits and letters after Sylvia moved to Lawrence House and later to England. Her letters to me are in the Sylvia Plath Collection in the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College and span the period from June l951 to February l963. We wrote about ordinary subjects—hopes, worries, families, children. Ours was a wonderful relationship which enriched and delighted me.

At Smith I majored in Sociology and Child Study and all my professional life has involved work with families and young children. After earning an MA in Early Childhood Education, I took additional graduate courses focused on children with special needs motivated by the developmental problems of my youngest son. For many years, I worked in an Early Intervention program which serves children from birth to age three who are at risk for developmental delays. There, I specialized in teaching children on the autism spectrum. Now, having retired, I volunteer weekly in a day care center.

My husband and I share seven children (three are mine, four are stepchildren), eight grandchildren and together we worry about the sad state of our world and, at the same, time, try to ward off the ravages of growing older.

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