Mysticism and Modernism in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot (CUL 309)

Mysticism and Modernism in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot (CUL 309)

Course Description

In this course, we will explore a selection of T.S. Eliot’s poems, those that most reflect his individual, spiritual and mystical views.  Through lectures, forum discussions and outside readings, students will gain an insight into the mind, expressed through his poetry, of one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century.  A leader in the Modernist movement, Eliot advanced new and pertinent themes and styles which had a profound impact on contemporary literature. Beginning with the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, one of his earliest poetic works, we will move forward through a number of his poems ending with the Four Quartets, a journey ending in an achievement over separation and alienation of consciousness to the discovery of the “still point”, a silent moment when “incarnation” or the “descent of the dove”, an image of grace and peace, falls upon one.

Course Sessions and Topics

This course is divided into ten, one-hour Lectures.

Week 1  |  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Modernism, Western Metaphysical Poetry
Week 2  |  Continuation of the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and Modernism
Week 3  |  Hollow Men
Week 4  |  Ash Wednesday
Week 5  |  Two Short Poems, Journey of the Magi, and Marina
Week 6  |  Introduction to the Four QuartetsBurnt Norton
Week 7  |  Four Quartets—East Cokers
Week 8  |  Four Quartets—The Dry Salvages
Week 9  |  Four Quartets—Little Gidding
Week 10  |  Course Synthesis and Analysis of Themes and Characteristics

Learning Outcomes for this Course

Outcome 1:   Students will be able to recognize and describe several major themes/ideas in Eliot’s poems 

Outcome 2:  Students will be able to describe symbols, imagery, and historical references used in the poems. 

Outcome 3:  Students will be able to interpret the poems, in their own way, and to research and critique scholarly references.  

Outcome 4:  Students will, through written communication, demonstrate the ability to compose a short poem, no more than 30 lines, in the tradition of modernism, reflective of Eliot’s style. 

Outcome 5:  Students will be able to identify the major characteristics of Modernism and relate them to Eliot’s poems.

Your Teacher

Timothy Shaughnessy, Ph.D. 

BA degree In English Literature from Arizona StateUniversity; Masters in English Literature from Northern Arizona State University;  Ph.D in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University, emphasis in Research and Community Education.  Teaching experience at University of the Pacific, CA, in English Composition, Arizona State University in Public Administration and grant administration.  Served in four U.S. federal agencies; Department of Health and Human Services as a program specialist,: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a compliance analysis; Department of State, Voice of American as Director of Management Analysis, and the Internal Revenue Service as Chief of Financial Revenue and Chief of Educational Services Program.  Consultant to the U.S. Department of Education and Veterans’ Administration.  Consultant to the University of Philosophical Research.