Experiencing “The Waste Land”: A Four-Day Unit for Teaching T. S. Eliot’s Masterpiece

Steer your students away from the question “What does The Waste Land mean?”, a question that still baffles literary critics. Instead, get them to ask “What does The Waste Land express?” Rather than getting them to interpret the poem; have them experience it. A four day course of 90 minute classes, for high school and undergraduates, based on a theoretical framework laid out in my essay “What The Waste Land Expresses: An Experiential Approach to T. S. Eliot’s Poem.”


From Glory to Gangrene: A Shift in Rhetoric in the Great War


A generation of poets greeted the outbreak of the Great War with many fine words, most of them capitalized: Honor, Glory, and England!  This capitalization, and all it implied, would not survive the trenches.

Modern progress had been disorienting up to that point, with its rapid industrialization, changes in science, shifts in philosophy and nearly incomprehensible art, but there was still the feeling, before the war, that civilization was marching onward and upward toward something complete, something grand, something ideal.  The word “progress” itself implies such an upward movement, and few, if any, questioned progress.  That all died in the fox holes.

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