The Art of Confession: The Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV
New York Univ. Nov. 2017. 320p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781479829170. $89; pap. ISBN 9781479882083. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781479839599. LIT
OrangeReviewStarIn this work, Grobe (English, Amherst Coll.) explores "the performance of self" in as multifarious a fashion as befits the topic and with just the right balance of theoretical acumen, playfulness, tongue-in-cheek observations, and historical, literary, political, and cultural accuracy to appeal to readers interested in various facets of cultural studies. He successfully deploys concepts such as Judith Butler's theories of performativity in ways that lend a proportioned level of complexity to cultural artifacts that vex easy distinctions between body and art—the physical and the aesthetic object. His observations about poet Anne Sexton and feminist conscious raising present a new way to approach gendered performances of self, and some of his questions about our enduring fascination with producing and participating in autobiographical performances apply as much to early modern productions as they can and do to reality television.
VERDICT Recommended for university collections with strong cultural studies programs and readers interested in the intersections between so-called "high culture" and popular media.

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