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Confessional Poetry and Blog Culture in the Age of Autobiography

Title: Confessional Poetry and Blog Culture in the Age of Autobiography.
Name(s): Price, Deidre Dowling, author
Epstein, Andrew, professor directing dissertation
Kalbian, Aline, university representative
Yancey, Kathleen Blake, committee member
Outka, Paul, committee member
Edwards, Leigh, committee member
Department of English, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2010
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: M. L. Rosenthal's 1959 labeling of Robert Lowell's Life Studies as "Confessional," initiated a debate about the literary value of autobiographical writing. At the center of this controversy was the taboo subject matter explored by the confessional poets: madness, sexuality, alcoholism, depression, and suicide. Another form of autobiographical writing which similarly polarizes audience despite being born in 1999 is the blog. In this study, I explore various shared traits between confessional poems of the 1960s and modern-day personal blogs and aim to demonstrate how we might read them both as part of the larger conversation about the culture of confession and the age of autobiography. This dissertation looks closely at works by three confessional poets, all of whose writing have recently experienced resurgence in popular culture—John Berryman, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton—and draws a parallel between characteristic traits in their works and contemporary blogging practices. I borrow Berryman's "Henry" from Dream Songs to illuminate the similarities between a poetic persona and an online avatar and argue that Berryman's broken syntax foreshadows the fragmentation of language at work in modern-day blogs. I regard Plath's contemporary cult following as an indicator of her acute audience awareness and explore how various Plath poems function as highly performative works of art intended to elicit a desired effect from readers. I compare Sexton's writing about taboo marital and maternal subjects to the recent phenomenon of mommyblogging and explain how Sexton's subversive poems paved the way for later women to engage in open, unapologetic life writing in blog communities. Ultimately, I argue for the reading of personal blogs as cultural artifacts and for the consideration of confessional blogs as a remediated American literary genre.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-0450 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2010.
Date of Defense: Date of Defense: March 22, 2010.
Keywords: John Berryman, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Weblog, New Media
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory committee: Andrew Epstein, Professor Directing Dissertation; Aline Kalbian, University Representative; Kathleen Blake Yancey, Committee Member; Paul Outka, Committee Member; Leigh Edwards, Committee Member.
Subject(s): English literature
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU

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Price, D. D. (2010). Confessional Poetry and Blog Culture in the Age of Autobiography. Retrieved from