Week 1: Close Reading

T 1/10

Introduction. W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming” (1919)

R 1/12

Read The Waste Land in its entirety. Prepare for discussion Part I: The Burial of the Dead.

Due: Blog post (1-2 paragraphs) – What was it like for you to read the first section of The Waste Land? What stood out to you (i.e. a pattern or set of details), and how can it help you to make sense of the section as a whole? Be sure to quote from the text to illustrate your point.

Week 2: Close Reading

T 1/17

The Waste Land, Part II

R 1/19

The Waste Land, Parts III-V

Week 3: Ritual and the Hero

T 1/24

Jessie Weston, From Ritual to Romance (1920) – Preface, Chapter I: Introductory, Chapter II: The Task of the Hero, Chapter III: The Freeing of the Waters (pp. v-31)

In class: some WWI poems

Due: Blog post (1-2 paragraphs) – Pick an idea or symbol from Weston’s book and show how it is reflected somewhere in The Waste Land. Be sure to include brief quotes from both texts to illustrate your point.

R 1/26

From Ritual to Romance, Chapter IX: The Fisher King (pp. 107-29).

Week 4: Fertility and Resurrection Ritual

T 1/31

  • Selections from Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth (1933) (D)
  • James George Frazer, The Golden Bough – bottom of p.87 to p.97, but in particular pp.88-92 re: May Day and the May-Pole
  • From Ritual to Romance, Chapter VII: The Sword Dance (pp. 77-95)
  • Watch video of May Morning on the Media page of the blog

In class: T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” (1925) (D)

R 2/2

  • The Golden Bough, “Adonis” (pp. 300-19), “The Ritual of Adonis” (pp. 331-45), “Attis” (pp. 346-52), “The Hanged God” (pp. 353-65)
  •  Selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, “Hyacinth,” “Venus and Adonis” (D)

Week 5: Prophets and Guides

T 2/7

Dante, The Divine ComedyInferno Cantos I-V (to p. 69)

R 2/9

  • Metamorphoses, “Tiresias,” “Tereus, Procne, and Philomela” (D)
  • From Ritual to Romance, Chapter VIII: Medicine Man (pp. 96-106)

Due: Blog post (1-2 paragraphs) – What concept or theme do you think connects the three readings for today with each other? How does it connect to The Waste Land?

Week 6: Magic and Exile

T 2/14

  • Metamorphoses, “Medea” (D)
  • Shakespeare, The Tempest Act I

R 2/16

The Tempest Acts II-III

Week 7          

T 2/21

The Tempest Acts IV-V

R 2/23

T.S. Eliot, from The Sacred Wood: “The Possibility of a Poetic Drama,” “‘Rhetoric’ and Poetic Drama” (D)

Re-read The Waste Land and come to class prepared to bring a passage or set of passages to bear on a wide-ranging discussion of the poem as a whole vis-à-vis the source materials so far. The material you considered for your midterm paper, whether or not it is discussed in your paper, can count towards this.

Week 8          

T 2/28

  • T.S. Eliot, “Thomas Middleton” (D)
  • Middleton, Women Beware Women Act I

Due: Midterm Paper

R 3/2

Women Beware Women Acts II-III

Due: Blog post (1-2 paragraphs): What correlations do you see between Eliot’s essay on Middleton, Women Beware Women, and his use of the play in The Waste Land?

Week 9

T 3/7

Women Beware Women Acts IV-V

R 3/9

“That Shakespeherian Rag” (pp. 51-54)

Due: Blog post (1-2 paragraphs) – Read all of the lyrics of “That Shakespearian Rag.” What do you think Eliot is doing with it in Part II?

SPRING BREAK 3/13-3/17

Click here for Canceled Schedule Weeks 10-14

Week 10: Eliot and (Auto)Biography

T 3/21

From Peter Ackroyd, T.S. Eliot: Ch. 3 — Into the Vortex 1914-1917; Ch. 4 — Mr Eliot, the Banker 1917-1918 (D)

Due: Blog post (1-2 paragraphs) – Find something in Ackroyd that pertains to The Waste Land and briefly explain the connection.

R 3/23

Ackroyd: Ch. 5 — Toil, and Troubles 1919-1920; Ch. 6 — The Collapse 1921-1922 (D)

Kenner: “How the Poem Was Constructed” (D)

Week 11 — Eliot’s pre- and post-Waste Land Poetry

T 3/28

“Gerontion” and “The Hollow Men” (handout)

R 3/30

“Dans le restaurant” and “Whispers of Immortality” in The Little Review (September 1918)

Week 12 — Synthetic Modernism and Dada

T 4/4

Read the Wikipedia entries for Dada and Tristan Tzara, as well as Tzara’s Dadaist Manifesto in Dada 3 (translation here).

Read the March and July 1915 numbers of 291, Alfred Stieglitz’s New York-based Dada magazine.

Look elsewhere in the Blue Mountain Project and the Iowa International Dada Archive, and pick one magazine issue to talk about in class.

Due: Blog post (1-2 paragraphs) — Post a link and ideally an image from one of the Dada magazine issues you picked. How does this issue embody one of the tenets of the Dadaist Manifesto? How might you connect it to The Waste Land or Eliot’s poetry generally?

R 4/6

Sean Cotter, “The Sacramental Dada of T.S. Eliot” (D)

T.S. Eliot
“The Lesson of Baudelaire” in The Tyro (1921, p. 4)
“Ash Wednesday” (1930) (D)

Week 13

T 4/11

Draw The Waste Land

R 4/13


Week 14

T 4/18

The Criterion, October 1922

R 4/20

The Dial, November 1922

Due: Final paper.