Call for Papers: Sylvia Plath and Disabled Women’s Life-Writing as a Tool of Resistance

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Maria Rovito
contact email: 

This panel is part of the Northeast Modern Language Association conference being held in Boston, MA, from March 5-8th, 2020.

Abstract: At the end of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, the speaker calls for a disabled feminist future, as she has “a self to recover, a queen.” Largely ignored by disability studies scholars, this panel will explore how Sylvia Plath’s works call for a reclaiming of disabled women’s voices and community. From The Bell Jar to Ariel, Plath’s writing has enabled a canon of literary works that describe the workings of patriarchal institutions, such as the asylum, and how these institutions affect disabled women’s bodies. Through writing, Plath has created a space where disabled women are able to own and control their voices and stories, which can be seen in the production of disabled women’s life-writing such as Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted and Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind. This panel seeks presentations that explore the nature of disabled women’s writing and how Plath has enabled a disabled feminist future through her works.

Description: This panel will explore how Sylvia Plath’s works have enabled a disabled feminist future through creating a space where disabled women are invited to write about and control their own narratives. What is the importance of reading Plath’s body of work as a facilitation of disabled women’s life-writing? How can life-writing empower the voices of disabled women?

Please submit a 250-word abstract to Maria Rovito at mrr354@psu.edu by September 30th, 2019.