Archive for November, 2010

Disability and Literature

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

For anyone interested in learning more about disability studies, here’s a link to Dr. Foss’s Disability and Literature Blog.  He has all kinds of links and such and hopefully it will satisfy your curious side.

New South/Old South

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I really thought J.B.’s critique on the two plays was really insightful and clever.  He definitely brought something extra from his performance experience.  I really liked his connection between Summer and Smoke being the Old South and A Streetcar Named Desire being the New South.  Even though I am unfamiliar with the former, he definitely still portrayed it in a way that I understood what was going on and how it related to the new play.  I also wonder how his reading would have changed if he had performed both plays-that would be an interesting insight.

A Case of Rape

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

In class today, we briefly discussed the rape scene in SND and how some productions of the play over-look the rape and leave it out, and how some are not even sure it exists. Being someone who had to go back a page or two after reading the first time and re-read that scene, I can understand. It was very subtle until I read the stage directions at the end and saw the note about the “hot trumpet” playing, then I got it. I’m not denying that Williams wrote this in literally and does it well. American productions though have ignored it in the past. There was one a about 12 years that did not however. The Key put on a production years ago and the Post reviewed it as sexier and more morally disturbing. I don’t know whether the showing the play in it’s truest form is wrong, but it is impactful.

Race, Class and Gender in Post WWII America

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I thought Kyle’s concept of critiquing class differences in the post World War II era was really interesting. We talked a bit about the historical context in class (nice citation ;), but I think it’s interesting that he pose the aftermath of WWII as a time when class distinctions were eliminated completely. Although this is probably beside the play itself, WWII had different effects for different nationalities of immigrants. WWII is often seen as the event that unified the America of immigrants- for the “white” races. Especially in urban areas, groups like Polish immigrants, and, especially up north more, the Irish, returned home from WWII and, after fighting side by side with the ‘old stock’ Americans, like Ms. “French by extraction” DuBois herself, were finally allowed to be assimilated as Americans. On the other hand, African Americans were even further marginalized by the war. Blacks fought the same war, but in segregated regiments, and had a very difficult time assimilating back to Jim Crow America, where, after fighting two of America’s wars, they still could not use the same public restrooms. It is no coincidence that the Civil Rights Movement followed directly on the heels of WWII. To return to “Streetcar”, however, I agree completely with Kyle that WWII eliminated previous class distinctions, but I think it is important to realize that radicalized class distinctions were still present.

Kyle also quotes, “With the return of the male workforce from the War with government payments, there was a huge expansion of the American middle class; which is where the Kowalskis fit in (Richards, 11/22/10).” It was the male workforce that returned home and displaced the female workforce that has undoubtedly been working in their absence. What was Stella doing? We can guess that she, like the rest of Rosie the Riveter America, was doing her part. So why is she as submissive as she is now? Why, after having to get on without Stanley for so long, is she the weak-willed character we see? I also think that the absence of the men in during the War might have something to do with Blanche’s pedophilia- she had an affair with a seventeen year old student. Seventeen- just young enough to avoid the draft. Is her pursuit of younger men not as disturbing as we think it is, but merely just a means to an end- there were literally no other men for her to choose from? Also, involving herself with a younger man would help Blanche cement herself in the America or in the South of tomorrow- as far away from the past and failures of Belle Reve as she can get.

How Southern

Monday, November 29th, 2010

As I read SND I thought about how atypical it is for a piece of southern literature.  At least in the sense of a traditional southern sense.

Let’s do a little checklist:
slaves? nope.
southern drawl? nope.
sunny plantation? nope.
racial stereotypes? of course…but that’s an easy one

I realize that these components are not what make a southern novel/play, but they are the hallmarks of one in the minds of most Americans.  So what makes one’s writing Southern?  Is it the setting?  The content?  The author?

Misogyny and Sexism in SND

Monday, November 29th, 2010

As you all will read in my paper for tomorrow, I focused on the violence and sexuality in A Streetcar Named Desire. When reading the play, this jumped out at me for two reasons: firstly, the play is obviously riddled with male-domination and sexual power; secondly, I have been studying misogyny and sexism for another class’s final paper.  While looking for sources (on both papers) I found most readers feel that if a text has misogynistic/sexist characters or ideas in it, then the author of that text is, by default, a mysogynist/sexist.  I wanted to open it up for discussion now, as well as tomorrow, on whether or not you agree with this idea.

I personally do not believe that an author only writes misogyny and sexism into their work if they too hold these beliefs and prejudices.

Also, for clarification, sexism is attitudes or behaviors based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles, or a devaluation and descrimination based on these stereotypes. Misogyny is a hatred, distrust, or dislike of women, and is generally violent.

Freud and Tennessee

Monday, November 29th, 2010

In class on Tuesday, I wanted to mention that Streetcar could be read through the lens of a Freudian analysis, especially when the discussion reached the point of labelling Blanche as being conflicted between culture and society. We talked about this a bit in the Williams and Capote Seminar last spring, but in rereading it, the Freudian analysis kept beating me over the head with its obviousness and I was wondering if anyone else picked up on it.

Like Jake mentioned the culture clash in Streetcar, the Freudian analysis of id, ego, and superego is another clash that could very well invoke a discussion on the types of culture because what is a culture without one extreme counterbalanced by another (politics, in a sense)?

Blanche would be the superego because she’s always covered, lives somewhat fantastical, and is always a performance; this is exactly culture. On the other hand, Stanley is the id–uncovered (look at the cover and the movie), focused on immediate gratification, childish, and somewhat passionately hypnotic; nature. Stella, meanwhile, is so bland and caught between them that she is the ego. She is the consciousness that is always trying to negotiate the id and the superego (extremes, if you will). She will go with the lesser of two evils, even if it means being “condemned” to Stanley’s temper and violence.

Student Papers on A Streetcar Named Desire

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The Streetcar papers for tomorrow’s class are slowly trickling in but should be all posted by noon. They’re on the usual page, at the bottom. Remember that the quiz tomorrow–the last one!–will be on these six papers and will be a “real” one.

Remember also that we’ll do evaluations tomorrow.

Clash of the Two Worlds

Monday, November 29th, 2010

As we discussed in class there seems to be a tension between two worlds, or cultures, embedded in A Streetcar Named Desire.  The first being New Orleans, representing a paradigm shift of southern culture embracing sexuality, violence and art.  While on the other hand the old south is represented by Blanche’s repressed attitude of sexuality and non acceptance of violence.  Tennessee Williams’ depiction of these culture clashes leaves the reader with an evident question of morality: whether we should embrace new culture, or old culture.  Throughout the story we see the oppressive nature Blanche’s actions have on herself and the people around her. Leaving, in my perspective, a non sympathetic feeling towards her and the culture she represents.  On the other hand we have Stella and Stanley who I personally related to a lot easier and felt sympathetic for.  The problem is, that impression changes when the story twists in the end when Stanley rapes Blanche.
What I think Williams wants readers to question is which one of these two cultures is better, or are we all destined the same sad fate.  I personally felt sentimental for neither side because Blanche is ridiculous, but i cannot accept Stanley’s actions and Stella reminds me of the ending of Jayne Eyre where Jane chooses to accept such a dismal fate with her conniving lover Mr. Rochester, which disallows me to connect to Stella either.  I am left unconnected to the characters in this play and i keep asking myself the same question: Is new culture just raping old culture?

Easy Research

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I remember being a child in elementary school and learning what an encyclopedia was for the first time. I also remember being enthralled. I could find so much cool stuff in one place! To me, this was the ultimate discover (geeky I know). As a college student, I still love easy finds, especially encyclopedias. Maybe because it actually means I’m lazy, who knows. But I will be the first to try to flip to a glossary, index, works cited page. So, I think it is hysterical and awesome that the world sort-of agrees with me. One place to find everything is better. Hence, The Tennessee Williams Encyclopedia. They actually have these for all sorts of things now, including authors, musicians, schools, etc. I think they (encyclopedias) are a great resource for all sorts of information. I still try to use them for my papers.