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Title: Mourning the father-figure in modern American poetry
Author: Campbell, Maria Regina
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2010
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Abstract:
The purpose of this thesis is to illustrate the process of mourning within the works of five key 'confessional' poets: Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke, John Berryman, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. I will use a psychoanalytical framework to explore the reverberations of a father's death in their poetry. I will illustrate the various methods employed by these poets to reconnect with this deceased figure in their poetry. By using psychoanalytical theories from Sigmund Freud to John Bowlby, I will illustrate the various pathways of mourning adopted by each of these poets and show how contemporary grief studies offer an enhanced understanding of the struggles implicit within their recovery from a father's death. I will ascertain whether these poets were driven by their need for psychological closure or whether they were searching for a means to express previously repressed and often contradictory emotions. I will also evaluate the extent of cathartic relief experienced on imaginatively exhuming their fathers in their poetry, illustrating the psychic dangers inherent within this aesthetic intrusion into the sensitive area of a father's death. I will argue that, more often than not, this process of revisiting unsatisfactory father-child relationships, rather than signalling psychic recovery, actually serves to inflate old grievances and mire the poets deeper within the trauma of that loss. Finally, I will consider the future of personalised verse through the poetry of Sharon Olds while evaluating the achievements and limitations of her predecessors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.551595  DOI: Not available
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