Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 5-2023


Creative Writing



Examining Committee Member

Dr. Carrie Jerrell, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Julie Cyzewski, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Pamela Parker, Committee Member


The year is 1959. America sits in silent fear at the constant threat of nuclear warfare. The Red Scare had hit its peak just five years earlier with Joe McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt. Neighbors no longer trusted neighbors and marginalized groups have had enough. The LGBTQ+ community begins to unify, people of color march for civil rights, and women march for equal rights. The people are using their voices, but the fight for social justice is draining. The constant feelings of anger and depression are boiling over, searching for an outlet. Enter the author Robert Lowell and his volume Life Studies, a collection of raw, truthful poetry that offered his heart into the hands of the masses. The publication of this text would be a pivotal moment in the beginning of the Confessionalist movement (“Confessional Poetry”).

Confessionalism is generally defined as a genre of poetry known for its self-centered professions of emotion and thought, unfiltered by the author, as if the audience were the author’s closest friend. This contradicted the generally fear-fueled need for privacy amongst the common population. Secrets, fears, embarrassments, regrets, joys, and celebrations all came to light as poets like Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath wrote honest depictions of their innermost thoughts (“A Brief Guide to Confessional Poetry”).

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.