Dr. Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick Publishes the First Scholarly Study of Assia Wevill

October 9, 2019
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Indiana University Bicentennial Professor Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick has written the first book to really explore the role of Assia Wevill not only in the lives, but in the literary history of both Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Published by Louisiana State University (LSU) Press, Reclaiming Assia Wevill: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Literary Imagination focuses on several areas of the Plath-Hughes-Wevill mythology, including how Wevill figures into the poems of both Hughes and Plath, her role as a writer and artist, and the portrayal of Wevill in recent works of literature, television, and film.

Goodspeed-Chadwick looks beyond the femme fatale stereotype that has been associated with Wevill to examine her tragic life and the lasting impact her life presents with regard to femininity and the power dynamics in heterosexual relationships. Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev, authors of Lover of Unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's Rival and Ted Hughes's Doomed Love, have this to say about the book:

“Dr. Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick does a very fine job of placing Assia Wevill in the context of feminist thought and women's history. She cleverly analyses Assia's literary and artistic work and her unfortunate fate as the tragic muse of her contemporaries as well as of 21st-century writers and readers.”

Reclaiming Assia Wevill is Goodspeed-Chadwick’s second book. Her first, Modernist Women Writers and War: Trauma and the Female Body in Djuna Barnes, H.D., and Gertrude Stein, was published in 2011, also by LSU Press. 

In 2019, Goodspeed-Chadwick was named a Bicentennial Professor by Indiana University, and has received numerous awards throughout her career, most recently the Glenn W. Irwin, Jr., M.D. Experience Excellence Award, IUPUI, 2019; the Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Award in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity, IUPUC, 2019; and the Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award, IUPUC, 2018.

According to Goodspeed-Chadwick, “Assia Wevill is a critically important figure in the life and work of Pulitzer Prize-winning Sylvia Plath and the British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, two of the most famous poets in twentieth-century transatlantic literature. Historically and culturally, Assia has either been erased from the literary record or maligned as a result of sexist forces, as I argue in Reclaiming Assia Wevill. Now, as a result of extensive archival work and literary study, it is possible to recalibrate the literary record in order to make it more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.”