Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Individualized Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Chair

Bernadette Sweeney

Commitee Members

Pamyla Stiehl, Lynne Koester, James Randall, Michael Mayer


androgeny, Expressionism, gender fluidity, music, Plastic Theatre, Tennessee Williams


University of Montana


Tennessee Williams was first and foremost a personage of the South, having been born, raised, and nurtured in the Mississippi Delta country. His early influences formed the concept of his “American Theatre.” He was a keen observer of people and places and wrote about the individuals he studied. He espoused the idea that as a homosexual he had the innate capability to write and appreciate various genders and sexualities, expressing himself as the character being developed in the moment of creation. Williams’s works, though containing moments of great humor, often trend toward darkness, becoming ever more pessimistic of human survival as he aged.

Chapter 1: Biography contains a survey of the life of Williams, from the triumphs and catastrophes of his youth, through success, and into the psychological re-examination of his life through the help of Freudian psychologist Lawrence Kubie. Chapter 2: Character Development through Androgyny/Genderfluidity explores character development in A Streetcar Named Desire, Summer and Smoke, Something Unspoken, and Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens through the lens of Queer and 3rd Stage Gender Theory. Chapter 3: Expressionism in Williams’s American Theatre walks through the evolution of Williams’s use of expressionistic techniques from early works through his middle period, analyzing Mooney’s Kid Don’t Cry, The Dark Room, Not About Nightingales, Camino Real, The Glass Menagerie, Suddenly Last Summer, and wrapping with The Two Character Play. Chapter 4: Spirit and the Flesh dives into the homosexual economy in the plantation environment of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Chapter 5: A Last Late Look into Williams’s Experimental Apocalyptic Expressionism shows the end progression of Williams’s slide into apocalypticism through The Three Plays for a Lyric Theatre: The Youthfully Departed, Now the Cats with the Jeweled Claws, and A Cavalier for Milady. Chapter 6: Music as a Methodology Toward Truth in the Literary Canon of Tennessee Williams plays with the many ways in which Williams embraced the music of his day, especially works by blues and jazz musicians, incorporating styles and themes into his works and cites specific examples in Fugitive Kind, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Finally, the Appendix contains a dramaturgical work-up of the play Summer and Smoke, created by Peter Philips.



© Copyright 2021 Peter A. Philips