Eliot Society, St. Louis, Sept. 2019, call for papers

deadline for submissions: 
June 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
International T. S. Eliot Society
contact email: 

The 40th Annual Meeting of the International T. S. Eliot Society

St. Louis

September 27–29, 2019



Call for Papers


The Society invites proposals for papers to be presented at our annual meeting, this year held in St. Louis. Clearly organized proposals of about 300 words, submitted as Word or PDF documents, on any topic reasonably related to Eliot, along with brief biographical sketches, should be emailed by June 1, 2019, to tseliotsociety@gmail.com, with the subject heading “conference proposal.” 

Each year the Society awards a prize to the best paper given by a new Eliot scholar. Graduate students and recent PhDs are eligible (degree received in 2015 or later for those not yet employed in a tenure-track position; 2017 or later for those a holding tenure-track position). If you are eligible for the award, please mention this fact in your submission. The Fathman Young Scholar Award, which includes a monetary prize, will be announced at the final session of the meeting.


Peer Seminars 

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 2019 Eliot Society conference, Friday, September 27. Membership in each peer seminar is limited to twelve on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please enroll by July 15, 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 within the past four years for those not yet employed in a tenure-track position; the past two years for those holding a tenure-track position). For consideration, papers must be submitted as Microsoft Word attachments 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 pp. double spaced). The winner will receive a monetary prize and a copy of the following year’s Annual.


Eliot and Sexuality

Leader: Janine Utell, Widener University 

Despite the attention readers of Eliot have given to particular moments where representations of sexuality seem to be foregrounded—the woman as object of desire and sexual anxiety in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” Tiresias in The Waste Land, sexuality and spirituality in Eliot’s plays—much remains to explore. Shifting critical discourse around gender and sexuality, as well as the revelations prompted by the opening up of the Eliot archive, present an opportunity to reconsider the poetry, prose, and plays in new light. Eliot’s work may seem “neither flesh nor fleshless,” and this ambiguity around sexuality, gender, desire, intimacy, and the body is the topic of this seminar. Participants are invited to consider:

  • What intimacies are available in Eliot’s work, and does his work allow for the imagining of alternative forms of intimacy?
  • How do we read trans, nonbinary, and forms of fluid sexualities in Eliot? How do we read queerness?
  • What are we to make of instances of sexual violence, violation, and trauma in Eliot’s writing?
  • How does sexuality manifest in the “New Eliot,” and how does the “New Eliot” change our reading of sexuality in and across the work? 

Janine Utell is Distinguished University Professor and Chair of English at Widener University. She is the author of several books published (James Joyce and the Revolt of Love: Marriage, Adultery, Desire, 2010, Engagements with Narrative, 2015) and forthcoming (The Comics of Alison Bechdel, Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing: Narrative and Intimacy, Approaches to Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing in English). She has published on modernist studies, life writing, and film in journals such as College Literature, Journal of Modern Literature, Life Writing, James Joyce Quarterly, and Literature/Film Quarterly. She is also the Editor of The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914–1945, and she joined the Eliot Society last year in Atlanta for our “Reading The Waste Land in the #metoo Era” roundtable.


Early Eliot

Leaders: Frances Dickey, University of Missouri, and John Morgenstern, Clemson University 

Discussion in this peer seminar will range across Eliot’s early work, including Inventions of the March Hare, Prufrock and Other Observations, Poems 1920, The Sacred Wood, and other prose of this period. During the decade from 1910 to 1920, Eliot produced some of his most brilliant work while laying the foundations for his subsequent career as a poet and literary journalist. What can we learn about this early work by comparing our approaches and observations? What historical contexts, philosophical or aesthetic questions, literary sources, personal concerns, or other topics are significant to his work of this period? Focused papers (no more than five pages doubled-spaced) on any aspect of Eliot’s early writing will be circulated to the seminar by September 1.

Frances Dickey and John Morgenstern are coeditors of The Edinburgh Companion to T. S. Eliot and the Arts. Dickey, Associate Professor at the University of Missouri and a past president of the International T. S. Eliot Society, also coedited The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: Volume 3 (1927—29) and authored The Modern Portrait Poem from Dante Gabriel Rossetti to Ezra Pound. Morgenstern is Director of the Clemson University Press and general editor of The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual.


Memorial Lecturer: Leonard Diepeveen

We are pleased to present as our memorial lecturer Leonard Diepeveen, whose lecture “T. S. Eliot, Fraud,” will address early, hostile reactions to Eliot in order to query why skeptics thought it more productive to raise the question of Eliot’s sincerity than to dismiss the poems as bad writing. The central problem for these readers was discerning intent—an issue central to the construction of the modernist canon more generally. 

Diepeveen is the George Munro Professor of Literature and Rhetoric at Dalhousie University. He first came to the notice of Eliot scholars with his book Changing Voices: The Modern Quoting Poem (Michigan, 1993). More recently, Diepeveen’s The Difficulties of Modernism (Routledge, 2003)—critically praised as “more than impressive, its stance admirably measured”—reflects his continuing interest in the relationship between the public sphere and modern canon formation, an inquiry complemented by his forthcoming Modernist Fraud: Hoax, Parody, Deception (Oxford, 2019). His work has included two editing projects: an anthology, Mock Modernism: An Anthology of Parodies, Travesties, Frauds, 1910—1935 (Toronto 2014), and an edition of Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons (Broadview 2018). Over the years Diepeveen has coauthored, with Timothy van Laar, several books on contemporary visual art, the most recent being Artworld Prestige: Arguing Cultural Value (Oxford, 2013).