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‘“I imagine that a man might not praise it as much”: Reception of “Three Women” and Plath’s BBC-recorded poetry

Smith, Carrie ORCID: 2022. ‘“I imagine that a man might not praise it as much”: Reception of “Three Women” and Plath’s BBC-recorded poetry. Helle, Anita, Golden, Amanda and O'Brien, Maeve, eds. The Bloomsbury Handbook to Sylvia Plath, Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 243-254.

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This chapter draws together material from the BBC Written Archive and radio producer Douglas Cleverdon’s papers to trace the life of Plath’s radiogenic poem ‘Three Women’ before and after broadcast. These archives contain minutes from meetings, memos, contracts, internal notes concerning commissioning of programs, expense receipts, scripts, audition notes and the files of voice-actresses who worked on the poem. Taken together, these papers re-insert the composition of Plath’s extended poem into the institutional contexts of its creation, but also the creation of her professional authoritative voice. The archives allow us access to the voices of the people woven into that process, as well as helping us to think about the life of “Three Women” after broadcast as it was received by the radio audience in their homes. The chapter draws on audience listener reports to argue that radio’s history as complex gendered, institutional, professional space, both for those making radio and those listening to it, makes it the ideal vehicle for “Three Women” and Plath’s later poetry which skillfully blended world events and domestic settings. Exploring Plath’s BBC radio programmes on Americanness and American literature the chapter considers their part alongside “Three Women” and the medium of radio itself in aiding her journey into the voice of Ariel.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
ISBN: 9781350119222
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 10:01

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