Mapping The Bell Jar
Together, we will create a map Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar. You will receive an invitation to join a shared Google Map. We will each add one pin and an annotation of a place from the first 98 pages of the novel. Your annotation will analyze the passage from the novel to which the location refers, addressing why it matters in terms of the novel (as far as we have read), the location’s historical significance, and any other details you find that shed light on why it matters in the novel or in light of Plath’s biography. Your annotations can include other images, such as street views, historical photographs, or links to video footage or other texts. Make sure to cite all sources for the content of the annotation. Be creative in the locations you seek. You can also figure out their distances from each other and consider how this alters your sense of the novel.
Locations can be both from the novel and from Plath’s life, and your annotation will address why what you have found matters in terms of your sense of the novel. Possible locations include the United Nations, Bloomingdale’s, Sing Sing Prison, Ladies’ Day, Mademoisellemagazine (where Plath worked in 1953), Smith College, Haven House dorm (Plath’s first year residence), the Amazon/Barbizon Hotel, Yale University, the movie theatre where the guest editors become ill, Lenny Shepherd’s apartment (the narrator gives directions from the Amazon/Barbizon Hotel).
You are also welcome to add locations that occur later in the novel. You can choose whether to add lines between locations or to leave them unlinked, noting in your annotation the page on which the event occurs, or the pages if you are commenting on a character’s subsequent visit or memory of a place. You can also group map locations into layers on the map and color code and group them, by chapter or by topic.
You should also cite and consult resources like Elizabeth Winder's Pain, Parties, and Work: Sylvia Plath's in New York, Summer 1953, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, Tracy Brain's The Other Sylvia Plath, and Plath’s correspondence in the Letters of Sylvia Plath: Volume 1. Some of these texts are searchable on Amazon. Peter Steinberg’s Sylvia Plath Photograph Albums from Plath’s time in New York will also be particularly useful, as is his blog, Sylvia Plath Info. Your map can provide a resource, complementing the Sylvia Plath Map of Northampton, but with further annotations.
You will post locations and annotations on a first come, first served basis. The first students to add to the map, get first choice of locations. You can also add to another student’s annotation. Your Discussion Board posting this week will address your contribution to the map, so you can specify what you added and why it matters. You will compose a 150-word response about your addition to the map and what researching it allowed you to understand about the text as a whole, analyzing at least one quotation from the text to make your point. Add your posting to the Discussion Board this week by clicking “Create Thread.”
Your map annotation and your Discussion Board posting must use your own words and appropriate use of quotation. You must cite all sources you have consulted, including webpages. You should also attribute sources of images and content on the map itself.