Theorizing @ Rowan: Sylvia Plath's Poetry and Medicine

Theorizing @ Rowan: Sylvia Plath's Poetry and Medicine

Theorizing @ Rowan

Sylvia Plath's Poetry and Medicine

by Prof. Ellen Miller

The Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies is pleased to announce this term’s first Theorizing at Rowan lecture. Wednesday, February 8 at 5 p.m., in Bozorth 118. Ellen Miller, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rowan, will present a talk entitled “Sylvia Plath’s Poetry and Medicine."

Professor Ellen Miller's abstract on her talk: "Phenomenological approaches to philosophy share a commitment to describing phenomena as we encounter them in the world, existential phenomenology in particular.  Phenomenology reveals that our experience of a poem is not a solitary, entirely personal experience.  In this presentation, we will explore individual poems that reveal Plath’s questions about the body, health, technology, gender, depression, and the doctor-patient relationship.  Plath shares Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s critique of dualisms and she embraces non-mechanistic and embodied ways of relating with others.  We will see that Plath’s poetic themes, namely, her insistence that there is no separation between poisons and persons, her depictions of the high cost of technology, and her affirmation that humans are at once part of nature and other than nature, resonate with questions in contemporary bioethics.  Her themes are especially important for health care practitioners focused on holistic approaches to medical care, increased attunement to power dynamics between doctors and patients, and attention to the interconnections between our human bodies and the environment.  In the last part of my presentation, I explore the differences between Plath’s criticisms of psychiatry and those raised within anti-psychiatry movements."

Theorizing at Rowan