T. S. Eliot


Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965) was one of the founders of modernist poetry. Born in St. Louis and educated at Harvard, he spent his adult years in the United Kingdom, working as a bank clerk, literary critic, and editor at Faber and Faber, while writing several of the great poems of the century. He also wrote several highly regarded plays and a number of literary essays. Eliot marked out a new path for poetry in the post-World War I period. Melding a revolutionary technique with classical content, he sought to revitalize what he termed the moral imagination and find a way out of the disordered and disoriented (secular) world in which he lived, and prepare the ground for a world based on the principles of his religious beliefs. (He was a devout Roman Catholic.) We will read the major poems (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Wasteland, and The Four Quartets) and one of the plays (Murder in the Cathedral).

Weekly Topics

Week 1:  “Tradition and the Individual Talent"; The Love Song of J. Alfred PrufrockGerontion 

Week 2:  The Waste Land

Week 3:   The Hollow Men; Ash Wednesday

Week 4:  The Ariel Poems; Sweeney Agonistes

Week 5:  The Four Quartets (1-2)

Week 6:  The Four Quartets (3-4)

Week 7:  Murder in the Cathedral (play)


T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays, 1901-1950 (Harcourt Brace)