ENG32780 Presenting Tennessee Williams

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module will critically interrogate both the well- and lesser-known works of the mid-twentieth century and world-renowned dramatist, Tennessee Williams. It will also have a key focus on the ways in which Tennessee Williams’ life influenced his work, as well as scholarly, institutional, popular, and self-reactions, to his dramas on stage and on screen.
Whilst many of the primary texts studied will be the plays of Tennessee Williams, students will also study, discuss, and unpack his prose fiction; indeed, students will be interested to learn that the short story form was favoured by Williams as a ‘first draft’ method for his significant dramas. Students will also study and discuss his only full-length novel, "The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone". An in-depth study will also be given to William’s considerable canon of one-act plays.

Both the American South and Sexualities – of every stripe – permeate the works and life of Tennessee Williams. Indeed, William’s cacophony of emotionally damaged, eccentric, and bizarre characters pulsate with the heat of the South and sexuality, be that repressed, overt, or celebratory. Students will, therefore, engage in critical debates, research, and discussions regarding the intersections of mid-twentieth century sexualities as they played out in the American South; the impact of settler colonialism on William’s works and characters; and Williams’ figurations and conceptions of gender.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this module students can expect to:
• Be able to convey in critical terms the biographical details of Tennessee Williams’ life and the ways in which it relates to his writing.
• Have an intricate critical understanding of the major dramatic works of Tennessee Williams and their screen-adaptations.
• Have a broad critical understanding of Tennessee Williams’ lesser-known works with particular regard to his short prose fiction, and his considerable corpus of one-act plays.
• Become conversant with several scholarly discourses regarding Tennessee Williams’ work, with key focuses on his representations of sexualities, gender expression and identity, and the Deep South landscapes in which they are situated.
• Understand and be able to critically express the relationships between the American Deep South, sexualities, and Williams’ writing.

Indicative Module Content:

- Eras or periodization of Williams' creative output
- forms, genres, and dramatic structure of Williams' work.
- Williams and the one-act drama form; limitations, expectations, boundary busting

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Small Group


Seminar (or Webinar)


Project Supervision


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module will have one weekly 2-hour seminar, every Thursday afternoon from 2 pm to 3.50 pm. Each seminar will commence with a student or a group of students giving a short presentation on a previously agreed primary text from the module.
Seminars will take the form of guided debate and discussion. The module has a ‘handout system’ whereby each week, no less than 5 working days before the seminar, a handout will be disseminated via Brightspacewith debate and discussion points and questions. Students are expected to work through the handout with that week’s primary text(s) and therefore come to class with some questions or discussion points prepared.
Students will be expected to watch screenings of both film adaptations of Tennessee William’s significant plays and videoed theatrical productions. All of the theatrical productions, as well as Williams’ play scripts, are available on Drama Online.
As well as reading one major or two shorter works by Williams for each class, students will have one or two secondary sources per week to read as class preparation; all of which will be disseminated via Brighspace.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Presentation: In either pairs or groups, students will open each seminar with a short 5-10 minute presentation on either one major play by Tennessee Williams, or a group of short plays. Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale No


Continuous Assessment: Scene Analysis: Word Count; 1500 Words
Students will choose one scene from a suite of pre-selected scenes from plays studied between weeks 1-5 and write a 1500-word analysis of the scene.
Week 7 n/a Graded Yes


Essay: End of Trimester Essay: Students will write a 3000-word essay, the topic of which they will develop themselves. This development will be done via a detailed consultation process with Dr O'Brien. Unspecified n/a Graded Yes



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

'A Streetcar Named Desire' - Methuen Student Edition
'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' - Methuen Student Edition
'Tennessee Williams: Collected Stories' - Vintage Classics