Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2381/37096
Title: Bowen Family Systems Theory and Family Disintegration In Tennessee Williams’s Drama
Authors: Alzoubi, Najah Ahmad Fayiz
Supervisors: Halliwell, Martin
Graham, Sarah
Award date: 11-Mar-2016
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: The thesis examines the American psychiatrist Murray Bowen’s major contribution to his profession, Bowen Family Systems Theory, as a literary-critical tool to interrogate the theme of family disintegration in Tennessee Williams’s early and middle plays written between 1945 and 1962. Both Williams and Bowen were writing in a specific intellectual and cultural context in terms of post-World War II attitudes towards the American family and its social function. Bowen theory understands family as an interrelated emotional system, in which a change in the functioning of one part of the system directly relates to changes in the whole system. I argue that we find a parallel to this in Williams’s plays: members of the family do not function separately, but within the context of the system that shapes their feelings, thoughts, and behaviour. The four chapters of the thesis pair eight of Williams’s major works using the eight interlocking concepts that form the basis of Bowen theory: chapter 1 examines differentiation of self and triangles in The Glass Menagerie (1945) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1947); in chapter 2, nuclear family emotional system and family projection process in Summer and Smoke (1948) and Period of Adjustment (1961); in chapter 3, multigenerational emotional process and sibling position in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) and Sweet Bird of Youth (1959); and, in chapter 4, emotional cutoff and societal emotional process in Suddenly Last Summer (1958) and The Night of the Iguana (1962). Not only does Bowen help to elucidate a central theme of Williams’s writing, but the psychodynamics of therapy are reflected in Williams’s dramatic accounts of the plight of the mid-twentieth century family. In the introduction I argue that Bowen theory is a useful tool for the analysis of modern American literature, developing the ways in which psychoanalytical theory has been used by literary critics to gain a broader understanding of the group context of family life in the postwar period. This will be demonstrated through the four chapters, while the conclusion considers what Bowen offers to literary studies more broadly, and what the limitations of his theory might be.
Links: http://hdl.handle.net/2381/37096
Embargo on file until: 11-Mar-2018
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, Dept. of English
Leicester Theses

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
2016ALZOUBINAFPhD.pdf1.4 MBAdobe PDFView/Open


Items in LRA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.