The Waste Land at 100

The Waste Land

Saturday 9:30-11:30

Seminar Leader:


Frances Dickey

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. On the centennial of the publication of Eliot’s era-defining poem, this seminar gathers to share our understanding of The Waste Land and evaluate where the poem stands in our current historical moment. Each participant will write and share a short position paper (no more than 5 double-spaced pages or 1500 words) due February 1, to be circulated to other seminar members.

Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:
•    The years since 1922 have probably seen more social and technological change in than any previous century. Yet our 21st century crises, including the global pandemic and climate change, may help us relate to The Waste Land in new ways. What can we learn from Eliot’s poem at the present time, or how can our contemporary experiences help us understand Eliot’s state of mind and the poem that emerged from it? 
•    In recent years, Eliot’s Complete Prose and eight volumes of his letters have become available to the public, and his letters to Emily Hale were opened at Princeton Library. How do insights from newly available Eliot material illuminate the poem in new ways?
•    The Waste Land has deeply influenced poets around the world and the development of poetry in the last century. Explore how a specific writer or group of writers responded to Eliot’s poem.
•    The expansion of modernist studies to include non-literary arts, popular culture, technology, little magazines, and social and political contexts has made new information and approaches available to readers of The Waste Land. Explore an aspect of early 20th century life that illuminates the poem (or how the poem helps us understand life in the early 1920’s).
•    What are the obstacles to reading The Waste Land in the 21st century and how can we make it accessible to our students?

Our seminar meeting during the conference will begin with the participants’ papers and gravitate to topics of mutual interest. Please email seminar leader Frances Dickey at with questions or to enroll. Participation is on a first-come, first-serve basis, capped at 12.


Frances Dickey is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri, and is Co-editor of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot

and the Editor of the T. S. Eliot Studies Annual.