Annual Meeting of the International T. S. Eliot Society
After consultation with medical professionals, university administrators, and Board members, and out of an abundance of caution for the members of our Society, we have regretfully decided to forego meeting in person in 2021. See more information about this decision here. We plan to return for an in-person meeting to celebrate the centennial of The Waste Land in 2022. In this interim, however, we hope you’ll be able to take advantage of the ease of access that a virtual conference provides. Last year’s Zoom-based Meeting had a record-breaking number of attendees and glowing reviews from its participants. We hope that we can welcome even more folks to this year’s gathering, and we expect it to be an equally compelling event.
You can help us to advertise this easily attended conference far and wide: please distribute widely and post this link on your own social media sites.
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.
Call for Papers
The Society invites proposals for papers to be presented at our annual meeting, this year held over Zoom from 24-26 September (Friday to Sunday). 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, 2021, to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject heading “Conference Proposal.”
Each year the Society presents the Fathman Young Scholar Award to the best paper given by a new Eliot scholar. Graduate students and recent PhDs 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). If you are eligible for the award, please mention this fact in your submission. The award, which includes a monetary prize, will be announced at the final session of the meeting.
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 Society conference, Friday, September 24. Membership in each peer seminar is limited to twelve on a first-come, first-served basis. Please enroll by July 16, by sending an email with the subject line “peer seminar” to email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
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 Eliot’s?
- 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 Fall 2011. He’s finishing a book on Eliot’s influence called “An Eliot Quartet: Jarrell, Plath, Heaney, and Glück.”
Peer Seminar II:
The Waste Land in 2021
Led by Megan Quigley
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 Eliot’s 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 Eliot’s 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 Quigleyis Associate Professor of English, Irish Studies, and Gender & Women’s Studies at Villanova University. She is author of Modernist Fiction & Vagueness: Philosophy, Form, & 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).