Up Late with A Streetcar Named Desire

I just love teaching/re-reading Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire. My AP Literature seniors really enjoyed reading aloud from this–some of them affect a southern accent and all of them seem to laugh at the right places and groan in other spots. The writing is sharp and the story is complex and nuanced. This tale of a pair of remarkably different sisters over the course of a few months in New Orleans was recently retold as Blue Jasmine, a film by Woody Allen.

What seemed just perfect for teaching this was the recent New Yorker cartoon, with Stanley Lebowski. When popular culture syncs perfectly with our teaching, the universe seems to be aligned. One of my students came up to me after we read scene 1 and asked if I’d seen the cartoon below.


There are some other great homages to the famous “Stellaaaaaa” scene  with Marlon Brando–notably Seinfeld makes a reference to the famous “Stella” scene when Elaine has too much to drink…and more recently Modern Family, which references the same scene and has Cam looking for the dog named Stella. I’m sure more shows and films have made reference to that scene–if you know of any, reply in the comments section. That’s one of the reason I love teaching plays like this or books like The Lord of the Flies–it allows students entry in the the club of cultural literacy, as E.D. Hirsch phrased it. And that’s one thing I love about teaching–having students run up to you before or after class, or sending an email a year later just to share with you an allusion or reference from a text we discussed in class.

Happy Monday and happy reading to you all.

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

Up Late with A Streetcar Named Desire

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