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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tennessee Williams’ first two plays

Before Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Glass Menagerie, there were Beauty is the Word and Hot Milk at Three in the Morning.  And before he went by Tennessee, playwright Thomas Lanier Williams was an MU student.  This weekend kicks off campus-wide celebrations of Williams’ 100th birthday, and to join in the festivities, we’re featuring two manuscripts of his earliest plays.

Beauty is the Word

Tennessee Williams' stage diagram for Beauty is the Word

 

Beauty is the Word was Williams’ very first play.  It was submitted for the MU Dramatic Arts Club’s Dramatic Prize Plays contest in 1930.  The play was produced on stage as part of the competition, but it appears not to have won an award in the contest.  Over the course of one act, two young and worldly aesthetes visit their austere and forbidding missionary relatives somewhere in the South Pacific.  When the natives revolt and threaten to burn down the mission, the young couple saves the day by appealing to the natives with dance and music rather than fear of damnation.

Hot Milk at Three in the Morning

Title page for Hot Milk at Three in the Morning, featuring the signature of Thomas Lanier Williams

 

Hot Milk at Three in the Morning was Williams’ sophomore submission to the Dramatic Prize Plays contest.  The play focuses on an argument between a young married couple who are trapped by poverty and illness.  It was staged in 1932, and like Beauty is the Word, it received an honorable mention.  Williams revised the play in 1940, titling it Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry.  It was included in a compilation of the best plays of 1940 and was the first of Williams’ plays to be published.

The manuscripts

The manuscripts were bound into volumes with other submissions for each year.

 

Both manuscripts are a part of the University of Missouri Collection, which features official publications along with the works of faculty, staff, and distinguished alumni.

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Stefani Engelstein’s Opening Lecture for “Controlling Heredity”

Stefani Engelstein, professor of  German at the University of Missouri, presented a lecture entitled “Visions of Transparency: The Human Body and Social Order,” on March 8 in the Ellis Library Colonnade.  Dr. Engelstein’s talk opened the exhibit Controlling Heredity: The American Eugenics Crusade 1870 – 1940, which is on display in the Colonnade until March 30.  The exhibit and lecture are part of the Life Sciences & Society Symposium series.  A video of the lecture in its entirety is available below.

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Posted in Exhibits, Lectures, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections

John Miles Foley’s Lord Library Donation Lecture

University of Missouri Professor John Miles Foley, director for The Center for Studies in Oral Tradition, presented a talk entitled, “Albert Lord and the Study of Oral Tradition,” on Thursday, February 10th, 2011. Below is a full length version of Professor Foley’s Lord Library Donation Lecture.

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