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This Business of WordsReassessing Anne Sexton$
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Amanda Golden

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062204

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062204.001.0001

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Anne Sexton’s Institutional Voice

Anne Sexton’s Institutional Voice

(p.73) 3 Anne Sexton’s Institutional Voice
This Business of Words

Kamran Javadizadeh

University Press of Florida

“Anne Sexton’s Institutional Voice” offers a critique and revisionary account of the breakthrough narrative, with Anne Sexton serving as its central example. If a crucial aspect of the breakthrough narrative is that the poet makes a radical turn away from “objective” content and towards autobiography, then Charles Altieri suggests a way in which we can both acknowledge the poet’s renewed interest in his own life and at the same time preserve the possibility that certain legacies of modernist and New Critical poetics might still condition his deployment of autobiography. Put another way, my contention here is that poets like Plath, Lowell, and Sexton continue, rather than reject, key aspects of the institutional forms of modernism that they inherit, but that they do so, often, by writing poems in which they are themselves both the subjects and the objects of institutional scrutiny.

Keywords:   Institutional Poetics, Narrative, Critique, Anne Sexton, Autobiography, Modernism

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