Bailey, Donna (2020) A poet prepares: persona, process, and performance in the poetry of Anne Sexton. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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This thesis represents the first sustained examination of Sexton’s early and unpublished poetry, which was written between 1956 and 1960. Additionally, it also represents the first detailed scholarly attempt to discuss Sexton’s creative practice in relation to empathy and Konstantin Stanislavsky’s System for the actor. In the course of this thesis I challenge traditional confessional readings of Sexton’s poetry and argue that her work emanates from an empathetic creative practice, which frequently results in her assumption of a persona. I compare Sexton’s relationship to literary personae to the Stanislavskian actor’s relationship to character. I also discuss Sexton’s resistance to and performance of the confessional mode. Additionally, this thesis situates Sexton’s creative practice in relation to John Keats’ similarly empathetic poetic process while also exploring her poetry’s engagement with T. S. Eliot’s modernist theory of impersonality. Furthermore, this thesis explores Sexton’s early poetry’s relationship to the work of Sigmund Freud.
The thesis employs a variety of reading practices, including Freudian, psychological, psychoanalytic, trauma theory, and poststructuralism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Embargo on access until 1 December 2024 - The thesis is due for publication, or the author is actively seeking to publish this material.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Contributors: Peacock, JH (Thesis advisor)
Lustig, Timothy J (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2020 16:24
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2023 15:18

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