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Art of ConfessionThe Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV$
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Christopher Grobe

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479829170

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479829170.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Art of Confession

Christopher Grobe

NYU Press

In Cold War America, “confession” captured the public imagination. The growing popularity of psychoanalysis had something to do with it, as did legal controversies about criminal confession; but, as this introduction argues, there also arose in this period a broader desire for authentic, personal expression—and especially for art that took its time rising from the level of the personal to that of the social, the political, or the universal. Comparing trends in poetry and comedy of the 1950s and 1960s, this introduction argues that a new aesthetic was born at this time, a newly personal approach to art called “confessionalism.” Whatever the medium of the art in question, performance was essential to confessionalism. In performance, artists could play with and against mediation. They could enact their containment, then stage a breakthrough back into life.

Keywords:   confessionalism, autobiography, psychoanalysis, criminal confession, Cold War America, poetry, comedy, performance

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