Friday, February 1, 2019

URSP Student Sarah Richart Compares Sylvia’s Unabridged Journals to the Abridged Version Edited by Ted Hughes

I fell in love with Zelda Fitzgerald after reading her biography when I was sixteen. However, every time I mentioned her to people, they only spoke about her mental illness and partying, and ignore her witty writing. Sylvia Plath, my favorite poet, is constantly linked with her suicide, and her iconic poetry and prose is left by the wayside. These women were so much more than their mental illness and I couldn’t figure out why that rose to the top of the conversation over their achievements. `After reading a lot on the two women, it seemed in both cases, their husbands, Scott Fitzgerald and Ted Hughes, had control in the narrative of their lives. 

My research started off vague, just exploring the two different marriages through letters, diaries, and the fiction and poetry both couples produced. After discussing the information and patterns with my mentor, he suggested the theme of plagiarism, not only as stealing work but misrepresenting personality. After finding this focus, I was able to sharpen my lens. A huge part of my research was comparing Sylvia’s unabridged journals, and the abridged version, edited by Ted. When reading about Fitzgerald, most analysis surrounded Scott’s direct seizure of Zelda’s work and his characterization of her in his prose. 

This semester, OSCAR gave me the opportunity to learn more about two of my role models and educate others about them. How Zelda and Sylvia’s respective husbands plagiarized their work and lives has had an impact on how we talk about them. I discovered a passion for revealing the “behind the scenes” of female narrative. This project started out as literary and historical analysis, but by the end, I realize it also has roots in education. If I were to extend this research, I would want to focus on teaching female narratives in secondary education, especially focusing on how the male narrative has often dominated. Coinciding with #MeToo movement, we must empower women to use their voice, but not forget those silenced in the past.