Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bill J. Harbin


Vieux Carre (1978), Suddenly Last Summer (1958), and A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) are among the many Tennessee Williams' plays and short stories that take New Orleans as their setting; they demonstrate how the city offered an appropriate and complex metaphor to explore his themes. This study centers on Tennessee Williams and New Orleans and explores how the two are linked in a mutually advantageous relationship, how the city informed his work, how his works reflect/re-create the city, and how the combination has passed into popular culture. This work examines the themes and images prevalent in Williams, work that also pertain to New Orleans; it examines biographical, intertextual, and contemporary popular culture materials to explore the relationship between the playwright, his works, and his favorite city. American ideas about New Orleans rely heavily on Tennessee Williams, version of the city. Chapter One introduces the methodology and approach of the entire study. Chapter Two addresses the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival which annually celebrates the playwright and the city. Partly serious and partly frivolous, the Festival demonstrates the multiple demands now being placed on the playwright and his works, and amounts to a popular performance that rewrites Williams for today. Chapter Three evaluates travel and tourism as a dramatic device and as a shaping force within the actual city. Chapter Four explores male sexual objectification and its violent consequences, active in New Orleans and Williams, dramas. His male characters continue to represent the current masculine ideal. Chapter Five explores drug use in the world of New Orleans and Williams' works. Art and artists are the focus of Chapter Six, and work in a multi-layered fashion in both the playwright's texts and the actual city. Chapter Seven analyzes the three film and television versions of A Streetcar Named Desire which globalize Williams' depiction of New Orleans, shaping our expectations of the city. This manuscript demonstrates how the symbiotic relationship between Williams and New Orleans transcend time and place, keeping his works and his favorite city active and vibrant in our continuing popular imagination.