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Title: Birdhouse (a collection of poetry), and The daughter : the roles of the father, the speaker and the reader in the work of Sharon Olds
Author: Woodford, Anna
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2008
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The thesis comprises a collection of poems, a dissertation and a linking piece. Birdhouse is a portfolio of poems concerned with themes of sex, the body and private and public loss. It also experiments with the first person voice of its own speaker. Birdhouse includes familial elegies, amatory poems and commissioned work. The dissertation represents the first study of length of the father in the American poet Sharon Olds's work. Olds's oeuvre from 1980 to 2004 is examined through close-reading of the poems. It is argued that a reflective reading reveals the intentional subjectivity of the speaker, but should not discount the na'ive reading the poems prompt which is part of their aesthetic experience. The centrality of the father is challenged, and it is argued that it is the daughter-speaker of the poems who is their hidden subject. The speaker asserts her happiness but uses ambiguity and suggestion to invite a reader to condemn the father. The father is an archetype, as are Olds's other familial characters, and a literary descendant of fathers in the poetry of confessional predecessors, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. The lack of specificity surrounding the father's crimes is used to demonstrate his archetypal depiction, and the speaker's focus on her survival narrative. The dissertation contends that the latent subject of Olds's book of elegies The Father is the speaker's prolonging of her father's suffering in poems which enact a literary killing, The dissertation concludes that the poems present a version of a family history spoken by a daughter who survives her archetypal presentation and valorises the role of poetic speaker. It is argued the relationship between the speaker and the reader is more significant than the filial relationship depicted throughout. The linking piece explores Olds's influence on my poetry, which prompted the research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available