Tyrrell, Susan E. (2013) Tennessee Williams’ “Plastic Theatre”: an examination of contradiction. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis proposes a new reading of Tennessee Williams which enables his work to be seen as a cohesive dramaturgy which challenges realist and liberal notions of dramatic space, identity, and time. It examines the biographical and historical origins of ‘plastic theatre’, and the aesthetic and philosophical implications of this crucial term. This thesis analyses the development and hardening of Williams’ reputation during the 1940s and 1950s as a realist (or ‘failed’ realist) playwright through an examination of contemporary reviews and the work of literary critics such as Raymond Williams and Christopher Bigsby. The thesis argues that the critical reception of Williams during these decades was inflected by biographical readings which pathologised Williams and his work from the perspective of ‘straight’ realism. It considers more recent critical re-­‐evaluations of Williams’ work: including those of David Savran, Annette Saddik and Linda Dorff. These re-­‐evaluations, and Williams’ work as a whole, are seen in the cultural, political and historical contexts of the 1950s and 1960s, which saw the development of the notion that the ‘personal is political’ and a major shift in the ‘structure of feeling’. The thesis goes on to develop a new theoretical perspective on Williams’ work which draws on the philosophical work of G.W.R. Hegel’s views on contradiction and his analysis of the master/slave relationship, W.E.B. Du Bois’ notion of veiling and Malcolm Bull’s theories of hiddenness. This new perspective is employed in extended close readings of early successful plays (The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire) as well as the more problematic later plays (Camino Real, The-­‐Two Character Play, The Remarkable-­‐Rooming House of Mme Le Monde, I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow and In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel). The final chapter makes use of Gérard Genette’s theories of narratology to explore the plasticity of time in
Something Cloudy, Something Clear and Clothes for a Summer Hotel.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2017 13:14
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2017 13:14
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/3826

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