Current Programme

2024 Programme: Schedule 

6-14 July 2024  

The full programme for the 2024 Summer School will be available soon. An outline of the daily schedule appears on this page; you can meet our current speakers here and read about the seminars below. 

The programme features plenary lectures, small-group seminars, readings by eminent writers, and special outings to theatres, libraries, and literary landmarks, including day trips to Burnt Norton and Little Gidding.

All lectures and special events are plenary. Each student chooses one seminar to attend for the week; seminars meet each afternoon for 1.5 hours, Monday to Friday.

Saturday

5.30pm – Arrival and registration at Merton College, Oxford 

6.00pm – Welcome remarks

6.30pm – Inaugural Event: A Discussion with Lyndall Gordon  

7.30pm – Drinks reception

Sunday

9am – Depart for the Little Gidding Festival

11am – Readings and lectures

1pm – Lunch

2.30pm – The Annual Little Gidding Lecture, delivered by Maud Ellmann, “Little Gidding: The Disfigured Street” 

4pm – Tea break

5:30pm – Depart for the journey back to Oxford 

Monday

9.30am – Anthony Cuda, The End of Impersonality 

10.30am – Break 

11am – Julia Daniel, Eliot’s Vague Terrain 

12.15pm – Lunch

1.30pm – Seminars

3pm – Daily wrap up

Tuesday

9.30am – Frances Dickey, The Lady in White and the Strong Brown God: Remembering Jim Crow 

10.30am – Break 

11am – John Whittier Ferguson, Unpleasant Eliot: Resources of Resistance in the Poetry and Prose of the Middle Years 

12.15pm – Lunch

1.30pm – Seminars

3pm – Daily wrap up

Wednesday

9.30am – Tim Armstrong,The Life of Significant Soil: Politics and Economics in the 1930s

10.30am – Break 

11am – Megan Quigley, Eliot Now 

12.15pm – Lunch

1.30pm – Seminars

3pm – Daily wrap up

Thursday

9.30am – John Morgenstern, T. S. Eliot, Controversialist

10.30am – Break 

11am – John HaffendenAn Interview and Discussion with the Editor of The Letters of T. S. Eliot and The Eliot-Hale Letters  

12.15pm – Lunch

1.30pm – Seminars

3pm – Daily wrap up

Friday

9.30am -Jeremy Diaper, Eco-Modernism and Eliot’s Predial Poetics

10.30am – Break 

11am – Nancy Fulford, Archival Delights: Tales from the Eliot Archive

12.15pm – Lunch

1.30pm – Seminars

3pm – Daily wrap up

6.30pm – Gala Dinner at High Table

Saturday

9am – Depart for Burnt Norton

12pm – Picnic

12.30pm – Walking the grounds and dry pools of Burnt Norton

2pm – Welcome and address

2.30pm – The Annual Burnt Norton lecture, featuring Ronald Schuchard, Eliot’s Double World and the Way of Suffering and Contemplation to Burnt Norton

4pm – Depart for the ride back to Oxford

Sunday

12pm – activities in Oxford TBA

 Farewells throughout the day 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2024 Programme: Seminars

Small-group seminars are at the heart of the Summer School programme, allowing students to interact one-on-one with leading scholars in the field and to engage in closely focused discussions of Eliot’s work. Each student will choose one seminar to attend for the entire week; seminars will meet each afternoon, Monday through Friday, after the morning’s lectures have finished.

The Waste Land, Anthony Cuda, UNC Greensboro

The most important poem of the twentieth century just celebrated its 100th anniversary, and an array of new materials has emerged to help us regard with new eyes its strangeness, difficulty, and beauty. This seminar will introduce students to the poem’s themes and structures, to some accepted ways of understanding its methods and avant-garde techniques, and to the newest insights into its dazzling and disturbing imaginative leaps. We’ll consult drafts and discarded fragments; read essays and letters that illuminate Eliot’s state of mind at the time of its composition; and immerse ourselves in source materials from the visual arts, opera, the Russian Ballet, classical myth, and anthropology.

Early Work: Poetry and Criticism, Frances Dickey, University of Missouri

After reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” Ezra Pound wrote admiringly to Harriet Monroe that Eliot had modernized himself on his own. But how? This seminar will examine Eliot’s development from his earliest experiments collected in Inventions of the March Hare (dating back to 1909 but unpublished until 1996) through his first two published volumes, Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) and Poems (1920). How did his early experiences contribute to his self-modernization? We will consider Eliot’s aesthetic, cultural, social, and environmental contexts, seeking greater understanding and enjoyment of his early poetry.

Middle Work: Poetry, Prose, Drama, John Whittier-Ferguson, University of Michigan

As I thought about the terrain this seminar will cover, three words kept suggesting themselves to me, words crucial to Eliot and his middle poems:  “Between,” “After,” and “Because.” The poetry and prose we will study in this seminar occupies the middle of Eliot’s life and his career: “between” The Waste Land and Four Quartets, “after” his becoming a communicant in the Anglo-Catholic church, “because” of the choices he had made in his life: this is poetry that takes nothing for granted, that describes in rigorous, excruciating detail what it means to try and orient oneself in a world that feels alien, treacherous, and (occasionally) unbearably lovely. Our discussions will be centered on “The Hollow Men,” “Ash-Wednesday,” and the “Ariel Poems,” and we will augment our study with readings in Eliot’s prose and his correspondence from the period.

Later Work: Poetry, Prose, Drama, Julia Daniel, Baylor University

It’s tempting to think of Four Quartets as an ethereal and abstract work of philosophy and theology. After all, what else can one do with lines like “In my beginning is my end”? As it turns out– plenty. In our week together, we will explore the deep roots of each Quartet, with a focus on embodiment, landscape, place, and that deeply evocative, if easy to overlook, northstar in the poem– home. We will read each Quartet alongside a diverse archive of companion texts that place Eliot’s haunting lines into conversation with the poet’s life and historical moment, ranging from love letters and seaside postcards to National Trust pamphlets and guides to modern burial. We will conclude by considering his late landscape poems as a twist on the larger gestures of Four Quartets, where the poet keeps circling around real, meaningful places that might offer some faint hint of home, whether found or lost, earthly or otherwise. 

Eliot and the Arts, John Morgenstern, Emory University

From the “Curtain Raiser” of his first notebook of poems through Four Quartets and on to his last play, Eliot engaged with nearly all the performance and visual arts, quoting songs and borrowing musical forms, referring to paintings, sculpture, dances and dancers, and mixing drama with poetry, to name but a few of his ways of conversing with other arts. His poetry often unfolds in the theater, in the museum, and in the cabaret, dance, and music halls of St. Louis, Boston, Paris, and London. What cultural attitudes or aesthetic sensibilities does Eliot’s many-sided engagement with the arts register in his poetry? How does an attentiveness to these other art forms enrich our reading of Eliot’s poetry? What makes poetry distinct from other art forms? To answer these questions we will read Eliot’s poetry in relation to paintings, songs, sculpture, and architecture.