Americanist Dinner Forum: Henry Schvey's

Americanist Dinner Forum: Henry Schvey's "Blue Song"

In 2011, the centennial of Tennessee Williams’s birth, events were held around the world honoring America’s greatest playwright. There were festivals, conferences, and exhibitions held in places closely associated with Williams’s life and career—New Orleans held major celebrations, as did New York, Key West, and Provincetown. But absolutely nothing was done to celebrate Williams’s life and extraordinary literary and theatrical career in the place that he lived in longest, and called home longer than any other—St. Louis, Missouri.

The question of this paradox lies at the heart of this book, an attempt not so much to correct the record about Williams’s well-chronicled dislike of the city, but rather to reveal how the city was absolutely indispensable to his formation and development both as a person and artist. Unlike the prevailing scholarly narrative that suggests that Williams discovered himself artistically and sexually in the deep South and New Orleans, Blue Song reveals that Williams remained emotionally tethered to St. Louis for a host of reasons for the rest of his life.

“Tennessee Williams' formative St. Louis years—spanning his adolescence and early adulthood—have for so long been biographical flyover country, barely acknowledged even by Williams himself. Now a fellow St. Louisan, Henry Schvey, has brought this period vividly to life. Blue Song, with its impeccable scholarship and intimate personal engagement, finally completes the portrait of America's greatest playwright.”—Rocco Landesman, Former chairman of the NEA and long-time Broadway theatre producer.

Henry Schvey is Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of three books, including Oskar Kokoschka: The Painter as Playwright. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase on September 9th.

The Americanist Dinner Fora are the flagship intellectual event for the AMCS community. Each month features a new set of speakers exploring a topic relevant to American Studies through the medium of a selected reading. The reading will be circulated the week prior. AMCS PhD Certificate students are expected to attend each of the fora, and AMCS MA students and AMCS Faculty are strongly encouraged to attend.

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