Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Linguistic Theory and Typology (MALTT)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences


Linguistic Theory & Typology

First Advisor

Dr. Edward R. Barrett


This thesis argues for consideration of linguistic features in service of raising the postmodern confessionalist poet identity as an utterance and an act of loyalty to performance. The embodiment of the confessionalist identity, attributed to the features used to adhere to the confessional mode, is realized through the invention of confessional personae. These confessional personae merge the responsibilities of the speaker and the narrator to convey a pseudo-autobiographical utterance to a designated audience. In this thesis, I analyze a sequence of poems that either possess taboo subjects or utilize linguistic functions, like indexicality and audience design, that mark its mode. I apply discourse analysis to selected poems of W. D. Snodgrass, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton to sense how prolific confessionalists designed the intersubjectivity of lyric poetry and public speech to achieve two goals: seek recognition and validation from general audiences and revitalize poetic expression to reflect a new era. The incorporation of narrative, personae construction, and language ideology into the confessional mode suggests that the mode is merely a path poets took to achieve literary success and celebrity, not an idealization of poetic functions that categorize a class of poets.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)