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Westminster College Associate Professor to Discuss Author Elizabeth Bishop at Bleasby Colloquium

Posted on Wednesday, October 9, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - The Westminster College Department of English and Public Relations will feature a presentation on author Elizabeth Bishop by Dr. Bethany Hicok, associate professor of English, at the Bleasby Colloquium at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in the McKelvey Campus Center's Mueller Theater. The program is open and free to the public.

"From Psyche to Poetry: ‘A Transmutation of Fire'" will review a newly discovered psychosexual memoir that the American Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop wrote in 1947 when she was undergoing psychoanalysis in New York. In the memoir, Bishop conducts a deep Freudian self-analysis in order to come to terms with her drinking, her sexual identity and the traumas of her childhood. This self-analysis, which involved the interpretation of her own dreams as a source of self-knowledge and inspiration, opened up Bishop's creative powers and led to some of the most important poems of her career, including "At the Fishhouses" and "The Moose."

This talk will be the first public discussion of this new material. The memoir, along with other important Bishop papers, turned up in 2010 in a box of papers that was about to be discarded. Saved from the trash, it has since been purchased by Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and is now housed with the rest of Bishop's papers in the college archives where Hicok discovered it in the spring of 2013.

Hicok, who joined the Westminster faculty in 2001, earned an undergraduate degree from Russell Sage College and two master's degrees and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.  She is the author of Degrees of Freedom: American Women Poets and the Women's College, 1905-1955. She is also the co-editor of a book of new essays on Elizabeth Bishop, Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century: Reading the New Editions. In addition to articles on Bishop, she has published articles on Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens, contributed chapters to three books, and delivered papers on American poetry at professional conferences. She is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to study in Brazil and is working on a book on Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil.

This colloquium is part of the George Bleasby Colloquia, a series of literary events in honor of the late Dr. Bleasby, who chaired the Department of English at Westminster from 1954-75.  These programs are presentations by the faculty of the department, featured speakers, and majors on individual scholarship, interests and creative projects.

Contact Dr. Brittany Rowe-Cernevicius, Westminster assistant professor of public relations and coordinator of the colloquium, at 724-946-6024 or email for additional information.

Dr. Bethany Hicok, associate professor of English