Vanwesenbeeck pens Plath article for peer-reviewed journal

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Dr. Birger Vanwesenbeeck photo

Dr. Birger Vanwesenbeeck

A scholarly article, “Plath Translates Rilke,” by Department of English Professor Birger Vanwesenbeeck has just appeared in the winter issue of the peer-reviewed journal Twentieth-Century Literature, published by Duke University Press.

In the essay, Dr. Vanwesenbeeck draws on archival documents consulted at Indiana University’s Lilly Library to establish a connection between Sylvia Plath’s 1954 translation of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, completed as part of an intermediate German class she took at Smith College, and the trope of mourning-as-translation that haunts the poems she wrote about the untimely passing of her German-born father.

The essay also includes multiple references to the late SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Marion Sonnenfeld, a longtime faculty member at SUNY Fredonia, who happened to be Plath’s instructor for the course and who thus closely oversaw the Rilke translation. Vanwesenbeeck’s article may be accessed online 

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