English 4188-01W: Tennessee Williams

Spring 2010

Dr. Maria Doyle

TR 2-3:15, Humanities 231


Office and Phone: TLC 2-248, 678-839-4853

Email: mdoyle@westga.edu

Office Hours: T/Th 12-1:45 pm, 3:30-4:30 pm and by appt.

Virtual Office Hours: W 9 am-12 pm (log in to CourseDen, go to "Who's Online" and open a chat)

Website: http://www.westga.edu/~mdoyle


Course Description

As a pivotal figure in the maturation of American theater, Tennessee Williams produced a drama whose distinct, often lyrical voice challenged audiences with its frank exploration of the intricacies of sexual desire, its increasing aura of brutality and its refusal to provide neat resolutions to moral and cultural dilemmas. This course will allow students to examine Williams’s repressed belles, disillusioned philosophers and corroded psychological landscapes with an eye to understanding the lines of influence that helped to shape his dramas and the relevance of that work during his period of greatest productivity, from his first major success with The Glass Menagerie in 1945 through the 1960s. Students will have the opportunity for extended discussion of individual plays, as the syllabus couples exploration of the dramas themselves – their language, cultural background and performance history – with additional contextualizing readings, including selections from Williams's short stories, from classical mythology and from other writers who influenced his work; we will also discuss some more contemporary theatrical versions (and revisions) to Williams's plays and the intricacies of adapting the plays for film, a process complicated by conservative Hollywood production codes that often mandated changes to the original texts.


A catalog description and learning outcomes for this course can be found online at http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/fr/CourseGuid/4188.html.


Check the CourseDen course site regularly, as assignments and background materials presented in class will be posted there; "I wasn't in class the day we discussed X" will not be considered an acceptable excuse for not keeping up with material or for turning in work late. Students should use their university email accounts or the CourseDen email function to correspond with me, and students should check these email accounts regularly (at least twice a week). Students who have questions or want to consult about assignments are also welcome to attend office hours or to use the virtual office hours on Wednesdays.


As a "Discipline Specific Writing" course, this class will engage students in a variety of formal and informal writing activities. Students must have completed 6 hours of DSW credit to graduate. For more information on DSW goals and outcomes, see http://www.westga.edu/dsw/.


Course Texts:

New Directions Editions of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Night of the Iguana and Camino Real

Signet Classics edition of Four Plays (incl. Summer and Smoke and Orpheus Descending)

Euripides, The Bacchae

August Strindberg, Miss Julie and Other Plays

Additional readings available on CourseDen (as indicated on the Schedule of Assignments below)

Films: A Streetcar Named Desire (dir., Kazan), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (dir., Brooks), Night of the Iguana (dir., Huston). I have ordered several copies of the films, which students may purchase in the bookstore; you may also order them online or rent them. Films will not be screened in class; you will be expected to have watched the film before discussion of it, as you would prepare a written text for discussion.



(1) Online analytical journal (20%): Students will keep an online analytical journal to develop observations and analyses of Williams's work. Students are required to submit entries for five of the six units of discussion from the beginning of the semester through Spring Break: you may submit your analysis at any time during discussion of a unit but no later than the due date listed for each unit on the syllabus, and you may choose which unit you do not write about based on your own interests and schedule. Responses should range from 300-500 words and students will submit at least two analytical and two research-based responses (the fifth may be either); materials for research-based responses are available on hardcopy reserve in the library. Students will receive online feedback on these throughout the semester. Further instructions are posted on CourseDen.

(2) Exams (30% [Midterm 10 %/ Final 20%]): Exams will ask students to identify and discuss passages, define terms, discuss significant events/stages in Williams's development and analyze specific themes and ideas as they appear in the literary works on the syllabus. Students should also be able to discuss the historical and theoretical contexts covered in class. Exams will include short response and essay sections. No makeup exams will be scheduled, and students who arrive late to exams will not be given extra time.

(3) Research Project (40% total [30% final paper, 10% preparatory materials]): Students will complete an independent research project on a topic of their choosing for this course. This final product of this project will be a formal 9-11 page paper with an annotated bibliography of at least six secondary sources. To help students develop their project ideas, this final project will be preceded by two components: (1) a 300-500 word proposal that outlines the project idea, your rationale for exploring this question and the materials you will use to do so and (2) an oral presentation of the project in-process to be given in class in the last month of the course. I will provide students with written feedback and suggestions on their proposal; each presentation will be followed by student questions so that you can also receive peer feedback as you work on the finished product.

(4) Class Participation (10%): Class participation – your preparation for class meetings and your willingness to contribute to our discussions – is an important component of your grade.  Consistent, punctual attendance is the minimum expected of all students, and after four absences, you will lose half a letter grade in this category for each additional class missed. You do not need to explain your absences to me – I understand that sometimes illness, childcare issues, uncooperative automobiles or unforeseen emergencies prevent you from coming to class – but use those allowed days for real emergencies, as I will not differentiate between “excused” and  “unexcused” absences. Doing well in class participation means more than just coming to class.  Students are further expected to have read the material carefully before class meetings, to listen attentively both to the instructor and to the comments other students make during discussions, to ask questions and offer ideas about the material and to respond thoughtfully to ideas presented both by the instructor and the other students.


Course Policies:

All students must complete a brief course policy quiz in order to access the rest of the online assignments for the course. Thus you have until the date of the first online assignment (Jan. 12) to complete this quiz.


I do not give 'makeup' assignments, and unless an exceptional opportunity arises that is directly related to the course material, I do not offer 'extra credit' opportunities: you will all be assessed by the same methods on the same assignments. If you find that you are having trouble with the course material, adjust your study schedule, come to my office hours or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get help with your writing.


Special Needs: If you have a registered disability that will require accommodation, please see me at the beginning of the semester; I will be happy to discuss your situation. If you have a disability that you have not yet registered through the Disabled Student Services Office, please contact Dr. Ann Phillips in Student Development (678-839-6428).


Cell Phones: Please turn cell phones off when you enter the classroom. Your time during class is committed to the class, and you may check messages outside of class hours.


Outside Sources and Academic Honesty: Academic dishonesty involves any attempt on your part to claim ideas and/or specific phrasing that you have gotten from elsewhere – including, but not limited to, Wikipedia, the dictionary, The New York Times, Sparknotes, an article you found that just sounds "better" than you think you could say it or your Aunt Sally – as your own or to fabricate sources or evidence so as to make your argument sound stronger. Plagiarism thus includes actions such as copying papers or online responses from the internet or other sources (including word-for-word copying and paraphrasing without citation), cheating on exams, turning in work written by someone else or turning in work that you previously submitted for another course.

* All work that you turn in for this course must be your work completed in this semester in response to an assignment for this class; course assignments are designed to help you develop a set of skills, not just produce information, and failure to do your own work both shortchanges you in this skill development process – rather like attempting to play basketball or sculpt a piece of wood without mastering the dribble or learning about your tools – and violates the shared trust of this course.

* Academic dishonesty is a serious offense, and plagiarizing any assignment or part thereof, regardless of the relative value of the assignment in the calculation of your course grade, is grounds for failure of the course.

* In keeping with departmental and university honor policies, all cases of academic dishonesty will be reported both to the Chair of the English Department and to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. In short, do your own work and when you use outside information, provide accurate citations for it. For more on the English Department's plagiarism policy, see http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/Plagiarism/pladef.html.

* Students should include a signed copy of the following statement with written assignments (your first journal entry and final research project) submitted this semester: "I have read the course statement on academic honesty, and I pledge that the material I am submitting for credit in this class is my own work."


Deadlines and Late Policy: Due dates for all assignments are listed on the syllabus; make note of them and plan your schedule accordingly, since late work will not be accepted.


Paper Format: All papers should be typed, double-spaced, in a standard 12 point font (preferably Times New Roman) with 1" top/bottom margins and 1-1.25" left/right margins. Big fonts, extra spaces between your paragraphs, and large margins are pretty easy to spot, so stick to the standard size guidelines and use the revision process to help you generate enough information to present a clear and well-reasoned analysis within the designated space limitations. Papers are required to have inline citations where appropriate and a descriptive title (i.e. not "Oedipus" but "The Chorus as Audience in Oedipus"), and you must number your pages and staple (NOT paper clip, glue, or origami fold) them together. Title pages are unnecessary; simply include your name, the course number and the date in the top right corner of your first page. Include your signed honor statement either at the end of your text or on your bibliography page.


Schedule of Assignments:

Any adjustments to this schedule will be announced on CourseDen and in class or via email if necessary. Students should have completed all reading assignments by the dates listed on the syllabus. Students will need to watch films prior to discussion of them.


Th         Jan. 7                  Lecture: Introduction


Classical Destruction, Mythic Sacrifice

T/Th     Jan. 12-14        No in-class meeting: online overview and analysis assignment on Euripides, The Bacchae and Ovid, Metamorphoses (Book 10 and Book 11: Orpheus; in CourseDen Weblinks). This online work is not part of the online journal; it is a separate assignment due by noon on 1/15. See online assignment description for full details.

T            Jan 19                Lecture and Discussion: Orpheus Descending (Act 1)

Th         Jan 21                Lecture and Discussion: Orpheus Descending (Acts 2-3)

M           Jan 25                Assignment: Online journal entries due; entries submitted after 5 pm will not be graded.


A Poetic Theater and a Fading Present

T            Jan. 26               Lecture and Discussion: "The Role of Poetry in the Modern Theater" (CourseDen Readings), The Glass Menagerie (Pt. 1)

Th         Jan. 28               Lecture and Discussion: "Portrait of a Girl in Glass" (CourseDen Readings), The Glass Menagerie (Pt. 2)

M           Feb. 1                 Assignment: Online journal entries due; entries submitted after 5 pm will not be graded.


Violence and Desire, Class and Americana

T            Feb. 2                 Lecture and Discussion: August Strindberg, Miss Julie

Th         Feb. 4                 Lecture and Discussion: A Streetcar Named Desire (Scenes 1-6 and introduction), Hart Crane, "The Broken Tower" (CourseDen Readings)

T            Feb. 9                 Lecture and Discussion: A Streetcar Named Desire (Scenes 7-11)

Th         Feb. 11              Lecture and Discussion: Elia Kazan, dir., A Streetcar Named Desire

M           Feb. 15              Assignment: Online journal entries due; entries submitted after 5 pm will not be graded.

T            Feb. 16              Midterm: Bring a bluebook


Desires of Body and Spirit

Th         Feb. 18              Lecture and Discussion: D.H. Lawrence, "You Touched Me" and "The Horse Dealer's Daughter" (CourseDen Weblinks)

T            Feb. 23              Lecture and Discussion: Summer and Smoke (Pt. 1)

Th         Feb. 25              Lecture and Discussion: Summer and Smoke (Pt. 2)

M           Mar. 1                Assignment: Online journal entries due; entries submitted after 5 pm will not be graded.


Marriage and Mendacity

T            Mar. 2                Lecture and Discussion: "Three Players of a Summer Game" (CourseDen Readings); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Act 1) 

Th         Mar. 4                Lecture and Discussion: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Acts 2-3)              

T            Mar. 9                Lecture and Discussion: Richard Brooks, dir., Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Suffering and Redemption

Th         Mar. 11              Lecture and Discussion: Rainer Maria Rilke (selections in CourseDen Readings), The Night of the Iguana (Act 1)

F            Mar 10               Assignment: Online journal entries (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) due; entries submitted after 5 pm will not be graded.

M           Mar 15               Assignment: Research proposals due online by 5 pm

T            Mar 16               Lecture and Discussion: The Night of the Iguana (Acts 2-3)

Th         Mar 18               Lecture and Discussion: John Huston, dir., The Night of the Iguana                        


Spring Break


The Experimental Stage

M           Mar. 29              Assignment: Online journal entries (The Night of the Iguana) due; entries submitted after 5 pm will not be graded.

T            Mar. 30              Lecture and Discussion: Camino Real (Prologue-Block 9)

Th         Apr. 1                 Lecture and Discussion: Camino Real (Block 10-16)


Student Research Presentations

T            Apr. 6                 Assignment: Presentations

Th         Apr. 8                 Assignment: Presentations

T            Apr. 13              Assignment: Presentations

Th         Apr. 15              Assignment: Presentations

T            Apr. 20              Assignment: Presentations


Th         Apr. 22              Lecture and Discussion: Tennessee Williams's Legacy

T            Apr. 27              Lecture and Discussion: Concluding discussion and exam review

Assignment: Research projects due in class (hardcopy only; no late projects will be accepted)


Final exam: May 4 (Tuesday), 2-4 pm