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Further Dimensions of the Poem: Sylvia Plath's visual imagination and Seamus Heaney's sense of space

Thursday 13 March 2014, 5.15PM

A Centre for Modern Studies Postgraduate Forum seminar

2012 saw the eminent literary critic M. H. Abrams celebrate his one-hundredth birthday and publish a collection entitled The Fourth Dimension of a Poem and other essays. In the title essay, Abrams posited that the fourth dimension of a poem – completing the visible print, the heard or perceived sound, and the intelligible meaning – was the act of utterance. To adapt Abrams’s suggestive title, this seminar draws further dimensions of the poem into play. It focuses on modern lyric poetry at the junctures of several intriguing interdisciplinary fields: art/art history, philosophy of composition, language and spatiality, poetic form and various planes of representation.

Henry Lee’s paper, ‘Sylvia Plath's Re-writing of Medusa: Collage, Collaboration, and an Overlooked Art Poem’, examines Plath’s visual imagination beyond the usual frame of ekphrastic inspiration, considering collage as a powerful mode of conceiving Plath’s idiosyncratic structuring of allusion, myth, and art (in particular, that of Giorgio de Chirico).

Stephen Grace’s ‘“anglings, aimings, feints and squints”: Heaney’s sense of space’ considers Seamus Heaney’s sonnets and the twelve-line form of his sequence ‘Squarings’ (1991), to argue that Heaney’s sense of space is not singularly or even primarily physical, as suggested by the much-commented-upon “bog-poems”, but more improvisational and ephemeral.

You can find the event on Facebook here.

As ever there will be time for discussion afterwards. We look forward to seeing many of you there for what promises to be an interesting and stimulating evening.

If you would like to present a seminar paper at the CModS Postgraduate Forum next term, email

Location: Seminar room BS/008, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All welcome