Society Activities




Pre-Conference Workshop
Open session - no advance sign up required

“Techniques for Teaching Eliot in 2021”

Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021
7:00-8:15 pm EDT ZOOM

Co-Chairs: 

Megan Quigley, Villanova University
John Whittier-Ferguson, University of Michigan

It is a fascinating time to be reading and teaching T. S. Eliot--we have new editions, materials, archives, and exciting new scholarship. It’s also a time for reflection as we make our way through a pandemic, transformative historical and social movements, and seismic shifts in institutions and academic practices (hello Zoom!). Teaching has never seemed so important and yet how do we do it best? In this inaugural collaborative pedagogy workshop, we hope to discuss: 
  • Creative Assignments: Given Eliot’s difficulty, erudition, and historical distance, what kinds of assignments do you create to bring Eliot alive in the classroom?
  • Teaching Eliot in the Antiracist Classroom: What texts and resources do you pair with teaching Eliot? 
  • DH Eliot: What on-line resources (The Complete ProseEliot foundation websiteThe Waste Land app, Graphic Novel versions) have you effectively used (or can you imagine using)  in the classroom and with what kinds of assignments? 
  • Editions: Which editions of Eliot’s works do you assign to your students and why? 
  • New Voices / New Views: Current students and recent graduate students: How do you think we should teach Eliot in 2021? In what contexts and classes?

Please come brimming with ideas for what has worked for you or just with curiosity to hear about your colleagues’ experiences. We know your assignments will differ if you are teaching Eliot in a core humanities class, an undergraduate survey, or a graduate seminar. Nonetheless, we believe we can all learn from what has worked and can imagine assignments together.

Lightning-Roundtable participants to launch us off:

  • Ria Banerjee, Guttman Community College, CUNY
  • Josh Epstein, Portland State University
  • Patrick Query, West Point
  • Johanna Winant, West Virginia University



Call for Seminar Papers: 42nd Annual Meeting of the International T. S. Eliot Society

September 24-25, 2021
via Zoom

The peer seminar format offers the opportunity to share your work in a more in-depth way with a group of participants who share your interests. Participants will pre-circulate short position papers (5 pages) by September 1; peer seminars will meet to discuss the pre-circulated papers for two hours on the first day of the 2021 conference, Friday, September 24. Membership in each peer seminar is limited to twelve on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please enroll by July 31, by sending an email with the subject line "peer seminar" to tseliotsociety@gmail.com with your contact information.

The Society will award a prize, sponsored by the T. S. Eliot Studies Annual, to the best seminar paper presented by an early-career scholar. Graduate students and recent PhDs who attend a seminar are eligible (degree received in 2017 or later for those not yet employed in a tenure-track position; 2019 or later for those holding a tenure-track position). For consideration, papers must be submitted as Word or PDF documents to tseliotsociety@gmail.com by September 1 with the subject line "Seminar Prize Submission." The winning paper will present original research and a persuasive argument in clear and fluent prose; it will also respect the length requirements of a typical position paper (5 pages double-spaced). The winner will receive a monetary prize and a copy of the following year's Annual.

Peer Seminar I: Eliot's Influence - CLOSED
Led by Anthony Cuda
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The influence of Eliot's work on writers of succeeding generations has been the subject of sustained and fierce debate. In 1939, Robert Penn Warren called it "the most important single influence on American poetry." Not long after Eliot's death, Leslie Fiedler asked, "Why does he now seem so irrelevant to young readers and writers of poetry?" In 1964, Ralph Ellison recalled, "The Waste Land seized my mind. . . . Somehow its rhythms were often closer to those of jazz than were those of the Negro poets." And decades later, Amy Clampitt said, "no single poem written in this century has had more influence than The Waste Land." This much is certain: the debate will only intensify as more of Eliot's writing appears in new editions and archives. This seminar will focus on the varieties of Eliot's influence on writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Participants may want to consider any of the following questions:

  • How have writers in the generations after Eliot adapted and transformed his work to meet their creative needs? Has their work shed new light on Eliotís?
  • What historical, institutional, biographical, and cultural contexts facilitated and framed Eliot's influence on later writers?
  • Eliot has been a part of academic curricula for much of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and many great teachers of his work have themselves been poets and critics. How has his influence been shaped from these classrooms? Which scholars and poets have passed on particularly striking or unconventional versions of Eliot to their students?
  • How have Eliot's ideas about influence affected the discussion of his own influence?
  • How have critical narratives and polemics about Eliot's influence changed?
  • What evidence should we consider or exclude in the discussion of "influence," including textual parallels and echoes, published correspondence, draft manuscripts, marginal markings, and other archival documents?

Anthony Cuda is Associate Head and Associate Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He is the author of The Passions of Modernism: Eliot, Yeats, Woolf, and Mann (2010) and co-editor of the Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition, Vol. 2: The Perfect Critic, 1919-1926. He is the Executive Director of the T. S. Eliot International Summer School, held annually in London, and he has been on the Board of Directors of the International T. S. Eliot Society since 2011. Heís finishing a book on Eliotís influence called An Eliot Quartet: Jarrell, Plath, Heaney, and Glück.

Peer Seminar II: The Waste Land in 2021 - CLOSED
Led by Megan Quigley
Villanova University

At the centennial of the composition of Eliot's most famous poem and his historic collaboration with Ezra Pound, we convene this seminar to explore the texts, contexts, and reception of The Waste Land then and now, inviting papers on any aspect of the poem, including, but not limited to the following themes:
  • What have we learned about The Waste Land from the study of its composition? What have we learned about the nature of artistic creativity from the record of Eliotís drafts and collaborations?
  • How do the milieus that frame the poem help us think about this text? These frames include but are not limited to sources, social and political contexts, artistic and intellectual movements, technological innovations, and contemporary or subsequent history. What works by other writers can be productively brought into conversation with this poem of Eliot's?
  • How is The Waste Land in conversation with Eliot's other work: his poems, both earlier and later? his prose? Does his prose have a place in leading readers into his poem?
  • Rachel Sagner Buurma's and Laura Heffernan's recent book, The Teaching Archive, has challenged us to rethink the role of the classroom in the formation and dissemination of literary scholarship. What might we learn about Eliot, modernism, and The Waste Land through re-visiting the way Eliotís poem has been taught in the past and how we teach it now? How were earlier students helped to understand its many voices, fragments, and forms and how do we see this influence on the subsequent 100 years of poetry and modernist scholarship? And if we are in a post-critical moment in literary scholarship, how have both scholars in the past and today, explained why we are hooked (to borrow Rita Felski's term) on Eliot to our students or fellow scholars?

Megan Quigley is Associate Professor of English, Irish Studies, and Gender and Women's Studies at Villanova University. She is author of Modernist Fiction and Vagueness: Philosophy, Form, and Language (2015) and is currently co-editing a volume on revisionary approaches to T. S. Eliot, Eliot Now. She edited a series of forums for Modernism/modernity on modernism and #MeToo. Other recent publications can be found in Poetics Today, Ermeneutica Letteraria, and Time Present. She has held fellowships from the Harry Ransom Center (UT-Austin), The Huntington Library, The Beinecke Library (Yale), and St. Edmund Hall (Oxford).

Peer Seminar III: The Secular, the Religious, and the Modern in Eliot - CLOSED
Led by Patrick Query
West Point

T. S. Eliot has been a cultural hero for both his intuitive connection to the most modern currents of modernity and for his devotion to ancient religious tradition. His writing has been a touchstone for avant-gardes of the jazz age and beyond, for Christians, conservatives, and mystics. We see in his poetry representations of proto-hipsters and religious pilgrims, functionaries of urban capitalism and philosophical seekers probing the edges of the civilized world. Are these contradictory or complementary features of his aesthetic and his philosophy? This seminar will consider the ways in which the secular, the religious, and the modern are expressed and interact in Eliot’s work and life. We will consider such questions as:
  • How does Eliot represent the mechanics of Christian practice in his poetry?
  • How do the psychic and the mystical inform Eliot’s vision of metaphysical truth?
  • Should we see in Eliot’s Christian commitment an expression of conservatism or radicalism?
  • Which Christian virtues are most important to Eliot? What are the greatest threats to his faith and to his religious practice?
  • What are the tangible expressions of modernity to which Eliot seems most attuned?
  • Just how hip was T. S. Eliot? How religiously orthodox? How iconoclastic and how pure in his devotions?

Patrick Query is on the Board of the International T. S. Eliot Society. He teaches literature and writing at West Point, where he is a Professor of English, and in area prisons through the Bard Prison Initiative. He is the author of Ritual and the Idea of Europe in Interwar Writing (Ashgate, 2012) and editor of A Tourist in Africa, volume 25 in the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh (Oxford, 2021). He is nearing completion of a new book, T. S. Eliot for Activists: Liberation, Resistance, and Hope.

Peer Seminar IV: Eliot's Plays, the Stage, and the Dramatic Arts
Led by Didac Llorens-Cubedo
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia
and
Fabio L. Vericat
Universidad Complutense

“What great poetry is not dramatic?” wonders one of the interlocutors in Eliot’s dramatic essay “A Dialogue on Dramatic Poetry” (1927). Drama is pervasive from the start in Eliot’s poetic criticism and practice. He turns almost exclusively to playwriting in the last decades of his life. But what may be great poetic drama in theory or on the page may not necessarily translate into successful stage plays. That may be the reason behind often ambivalent audiences and the comparative critical neglect of Eliot’s plays. It is undeniable, however, that Eliot’s theatrical productions, along with his deliberate incursions into popular culture, contribute to his poetic output and his importance in his own time and in ours. We are looking for contributions that address these and related questions, which may include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
  • What are the continuities/discontinuities between Eliot’s poetry and drama?
  • Does Eliot’s criticism on drama relate to his practice as a dramatist?
  • In what ways can Eliot’s endeavors to revive verse drama be seen as a “modernist” project? Are there ways in which his drama is at odds with modernism as you understand that term?
  • Can Eliot’s plays be seen as dramatic explorations of his own spiritual quest and/or biographical experience? In what ways might they be said to resist biographical connections?
  • Can Eliot’s rewriting of classical sources in his plays be related to the “mythical method” that he credits Joyce with inventing in Ulysses?
  • In what ways do Eliot’s plays embody his idea of drama as popular culture?
  • What does the history of the actual productions and popular reception of Eliot’s plays (in the UK, USA or elsewhere) tell us about the evolution of twentieth-century drama? What do those production and receptions histories teach us about Eliot’s own work and its importance?
  • How do Eliot’s plays compare to the work of other contemporary dramatists?

Dídac Llorens-Cubedo teaches English and US literature at the Spanish Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED). He has published T. S. Eliot and Salvador Espriu: Converging Poetic Imaginations (Universitat de València, 2013). He coordinates the research project T. S. Eliot’s Drama from Spain: Translation, Critical Study, Performance and keeps the academic blog T. S. Eliot and Drama.

Fabio L. Vericat is Associate Professor of English Studies at Universidad Complutense in Madrid. He has published From Physics to Metaphysics: Philosophy and Allegory in the Critical Writings of T. S. Eliot (2004) as well as articles in Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Journal of Modern Literature, South Atlantic Review, and Scottish Literary Review. He is currently working on a book project provisionally entitled ďThe Drama of Aural Modernity in T.S. Eliot and Henry JamesĒ and is also contributing to the critical edition of a translation into Spanish of Eliotís complete plays. In the Fall of 2017, he was visiting scholar in the English Department at Harvard University with the aid of a RCC Harvard Research Fellowship.



Memorial Lecturer Robert Pinsky

We are pleased to present as our memorial speaker Robert Pinsky, whose lecture "T. S. Eliot, 1933, 1958, 1962, 2016" will offer a practicing poet's impressions of Eliot's work. His entry point is another poet's impressions: Allen Ginsberg's obsessive journal entries about T. S. Eliot in 1958. Pinsky's own assessment of both Eliot and Ginsberg, when he was a college student in 1962, offers another stage of development. Finally, the poem "Mixed Chorus," from Pinsky's 2016 book At the Foundling Hospital, extends his still-evolving response to "Tradition and the Individual Talent."

Robert Pinsky's books of poetry include The Figured Wheel (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), At the Foundling Hospital (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), and his translation The Inferno of Dante. As three-term Poet Laureate of the United States, he founded the Favorite Poem Project, with the videos at www.favoritepoem.org. Pinsky is also the author of Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry. He has received the Korean Manhae Award, the Italian Premio Capri, and the Harold Washington Award from the City of Chicago. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University.



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