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Mum Show Opening Lecture

Botanic Garden

What Ties, What Roots? Chrysanthemum Kinship at the Ends of the World

Friday, November 3, 2023 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Colin Hoag
Weinstein Auditorium & Livestreamed

Join us for the Mum Show Opening Lecture, "What Ties, What Roots? Chrysanthemum Kinship at the Ends of the World" by Professor Colin Hoag. Preview of the Mum Show and the original exhibit in Lyman The Bell Jars: Lyman Conservatory and Sylvia Plath’s Botanical Imagination to followThe lecture will also be livestreamed on Facebook and Youtube

About the lecture: What can plants tell us about the human condition? Sylvia Plath’s bell jar metaphor provides one answer. Plath used bell jars to learn about photosynthesis during a lab exercise in a first-year botany course at Smith College, and it was this intimate interspecies encounter that helped her to understand the condition of women in 1950s USA. In tandem with a year-long exhibit at Lyman Conservatory focusing on that encounter, this year’s Mum Show Lecture traces Plath’s development of the bell jar metaphor and what it might say about our relationship to Chrysanthemums, family, and place.

About the speaker: Colin Hoag is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Smith College and the recent author of The Fluvial Imagination: On Lesotho’s Water-Export Economy. His current research focuses on the geography of the daisy family (Compositae), plant conservatories, and Sylvia Plath.

Please note: This event is wheelchair accessible. For information about disability access or to request accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.