it s only t s eliot s wasteland

This week you’re tacking on arguably the most important poem of the Modern era — and one of the most challenging. T.S. Eliot challenges us in two arguably very different ways. One the one hand, the layers of images with which he infuses the poem are designed, at least in part, to create in us a visceral reaction — to make us feel the world the poem is describing. On the other hand, he has woven in as well allusion after allusion after allusion — references to great works of literature and philosophy — that are key to understanding the poem’s bleak (but maybe not hopeless) portrait of modern life.

This week’s discussion will have you approach the poem in both modes — first as a reader, then as a critic.

Before going any further, be sure you’ve watched my Week 9 Overview video.

Here’s what to do:

Before posting, create a double entry journal as you read the poem the first time through. In the right column, jot down passages, phrases, quotes that struck you, in the left, your reflections and thoughts on those. At the end of each section of the poem, take a few minutes for a final reflection on how it made you feel, what it made you think of.

Now carefully explore the Shmoop analysis of the poem.

In your post:

Start by sharing impressions from your journal. What was your initial impression? Did the poem connect with you or your experience of the world in any way? Share any initial impressions, thoughts, connections you madee while reading.

Now contrast your initial impressions with what the scholars who prepared thee Shmoop analysis say thee poem is about. My suggestion is to focus on a single section, comparing and contrasting your initial impressions with the “official” reading of the poem.

In your responses to othere student posts, feel free to respond to their interpretations or feelings about the poem or the analysis.

As always, be sure to support/illustrate your analysis with specifics from the poem.



Read “T.S. Eliot” (1382-1385); The Waste Land (1389-1402)

‘Reader-Response Criticism (1960s-Present)”, Purdue OWL.

“The Waste Land”, Shmoop (but watch overview video first!)

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