Literary Movements: The Path to Confessional Poetry


  • Anissa Sboui Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities of Sousse, Tunisia Author



Romanticism; Formalism; Modernism; Confessional poetry; Subjectivity; Middle Generation poets; Autobiography


In this paper, my main objective is to focus on literary movements leading to the birth of American confessional poetry. I venture to argue for the dynamics of interaction/rupture, repositioning confessional poetry within the mid-twentieth-century literary map. I seek to illuminate the substantial effect of Romanticism, Formalism and Modernism in what would be labelled the confessional school and spot the light on the major founding figures that have set the pillars of a new style of writing. The ‘Middle Generation’ poets, as Philip McGowan calls them, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, W.D. Snodgrass, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, are among the eminent contributors to the emergence of confessional poetry in America in the late 1950s. In so doing, I will offer an insightful understanding of the construction of this new ‘subgenre’ through deep scrutiny of male and female poets’ life stories, career challenges and works.