Classics of American Literature: T. S. Eliot

Analysis of work by T. S. Eliot including the lovesong of j. alfred prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men and more.
43 reviews
  • Victor Strandberg Professor of English - Duke University

    Born in New Hampshire (1935), raised in Central Massachusetts; A.B. Clark University, 1957; PhD in English and American Literature, Brown University, 1962; Taught at University of Vermont, 1962-1966; at Duke University, 1966-present.

    Published books on Robert Penn Warren, William James, William Faulkner, and Cynthia Ozick; essays on many 19th and 20th century American writers.  Most of these writings are freely available (or soon will be) at Duke University website, tap "dukespace," then "faculty scholarship."  Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American Literature in Sweden (Uppsala, 1973), Belgium (Louvain, 1980), Germany (Mannheim, 1987), and the Czech Republic (Olomouc, 2001).  Also taught in Japan (Kobe College, 1994) and Morocco (Marrakech, 1987).  Married 1961 to Penelope Hamilton; two daughters, Anne and Susan.

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Classics of American Literature: T. S. Eliot

Analysis of work by T. S. Eliot including the lovesong of j. alfred prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men and more.
43 reviews


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A Faculty Project Course - Best Professors Teaching the World

The central purpose of this course is to facilitate a better understanding of poems by T. S. Eliot.  We will focus mainly on classic works such as The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and The Hollow Men, but we may also take up some less prominent poems as well.  Toward this end we shall also consider some aspects of Eliot's biography, his literary criticism, and the cultural backdrop of his times.  Our final objective will be to clarify not only Eliot's poems but the revolution in twentieth century poetry largely attributed to Eliot and his cohort Ezra Pound.

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  • 1
    Course Introduction

    Welcome to the course.

    In this lecture, I give a brief introduction of myself and provide an overview of what we will be covering in this course.

    I look forward to hearing your comments and questions throughout the different topics I present to you. I also hope it sparks a good discussion in the course.

  • SECTION 1:
    T.S. Eliot Biography
  • 2
    Biography of T.S. Eliot

    Key Points:

    • Family history
    • Education
    • Formative influences
    • Photographs
  • 3
    Images - Biography of T.S. Eliot
    50 slides
  • 4
    T.S. Eliot Timeline
    2 pages
  • 5
    Some Best Books
    7 slides
  • SECTION 2:
  • 6

    Key Points:

    • The Crisis of Belief
    • Faith vs Science
    • Melville, Twain, Dreiser
  • 7
    The Crisis of Belief: Naturalism
    1 page
  • SECTION 3:
  • 8

    Key Points:

    • The Pound-Eliot Revolution
    • Greater Realism
    • Nine specific precepts
  • SECTION 4:
    The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock
  • 9
    Poem - The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock
    5 pages
  • 10
    The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

    In this lecture, we look at the first great poem of T.S. Eliot.

    Key Points:

    • A new style of poetry
    • Realism (naturalism) vs Romance
    • Allusions—Dante, Shakespeare, Marvell
    • Isolation
  • SECTION 5:
    Sweeney Among the Nightingales
  • 11
    Poem - Sweeney Among The Nightingales
    2 pages
  • 12
    Sweeney Among the Nightingales

    Key Points:

    • Counterpoint  to Prufrock
    • Mock epic
    • Eliot and the Nightingale
  • SECTION 6:
    Portrait of a Lady
  • 13
    Poem - Portrait of a Lady
    4 pages
  • 14
    Portrait of a Lady

    Key Points:

    • Protocols of gentility
    • Being friends (Romance)
    • The social mask (Realism)
    • The wench is dead
  • SECTION 7:
    Preludes (a poem)
  • 15
    Poem - Preludes
    2 pages
  • 16
    Preludes (a poem)

    Key Points:

    • A new tack
    • Blight in the city
    • A visionary moment
    • Self-repression
  • SECTION 8:
  • 17
    Poem - Gerontion
    2 pages
  • 18

    Key Points:

    • The quest for meaning
    • Christ the tiger
    • What is adulterated
    • Around the Horn
  • SECTION 9:
    The Waste Land - Introduction
  • 19
    Context of The Waste Land

    Key Points:

    • From Ritual to Romance
    • The Tarot cards
    • Sacred writ
  • 20
    Tarot Cards
    2 pages
  • 21
    Poem - The Waste Land
    18 pages
  • 22
    Eliot's Notes To The Waste Land
    7 pages
    These are Eliot's own notes to The Waste Land. Read through it and use it as reference as we go along through each part of The Waste Land.
  • SECTION 10:
    The Waste Land - 1
  • 23
    The Burial of the Dead (Part 1)

    Key Points:

    • Ethics, metaphysics
    • A myth of rebirth
    • The cruellest month
  • 24
    The Burial of the Dead (Part 2)

    Key Points:

    • Hearing voices
    • Memory and desire
    • Epiphanies
    • What root out of dry ground?
  • 25
    The Burial of the Dead (Part 3)
  • SECTION 11:
    The Waste Land - 2
  • 26
    A Game of Chess (Part 1)

    Key Points:

    • Philomela: the plight of woman

    • Two portraits of marriage

    • Seeing Nothing

  • 27
    A Game of Chess (Part 2)

    Key Points:

    • Common speech

    • Women beware women

    • Ophelia

  • SECTION 12:
    The Waste Land - 3
  • 28
    The Buddha's Fire Sermon
    2 pages
    This is from Henry Clark Warren, "Buddhism in Translation." Read through it before proceeding to the next lecture as we will discuss it there.
  • 29
    The Fire Sermon (Part 1)

    Key Points:

    • Background information of the title
    • Discovery of the narrator
    • The Buddha's sermon

  • 30
    The Fire Sermon (Part 2)
  • SECTION 13:
    The Waste Land - 4
  • 31
    Death By Water

  • SECTION 14:
    The Waste Land - 5
  • 32
    What the Thunder Said (Part 1)

  • 33
    What the Thunder Said (Part 2)
  • SECTION 15:
    The Hollow Men
  • 34
    Poem - The Hollow Men
    3 pages
  • 35
    The Hollow Men
  • SECTION 16:
    Eliot's Conversion, Journey of the Magi
  • 36
    Poem - Journey Of The Magi
    1 page
  • 37
    Journey of the Magi
  • SECTION 17:
    Ash Wednesday
  • 38
    Poem - Ash Wednesday
    7 pages
  • 39
    Ash Wednesday (Part 1)
  • 40
    Ash Wednesday (Part 2)
  • 41
    Ash Wednesday (Part 3)
  • SECTION 18:
    Course Wrap-up: Literary and Cultural Criticism
  • 42
    T.S. Eliot as a Critic
    6 pages
    Take some time to read through Eliot's criticism. Make sure you download this document as we will refer to it in the next two lectures. 

    It will be best to have the document open on your desktop before you proceed to the next lecture. 
  • 43
    Literary and Cultural Criticism (Part 1)
    Please download and open the document on T.S. Eliot's criticism before you begin this lecture.
  • 44
    Literary and Cultural Criticism (Part 2) | Course Conclusion
  • SECTION 19:
    Concluding Note
  • 45
    Thank You


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  • Gregory Firth
    Best tour guide you can get for Eliot!

    Victor Strandberg is (or was) a professor of English at Duke U, and with his help and guidance we dig into the Wasteland and other important poems of TS Eliot. Frankly, I was fascinated by Eliot in my Victor Strandberg, professor of English at Duke U, is our guide to the Wasteland and other poems from Eliot. Frankly, I was fascinated by Eliot in my youth but often came away shaking my head at how much work was required to read his works. Worse, I know now that I missed quite a bit of the larger themes of Eliot's efforts. Sometimes its better to have a qualified tour guide to enjoy the sights, rather than attempting to cut through the thorny allusions Eliot enjoyed so much (Ezra Pound was 10x worse). This course has been a pleasure - thank you very much professor. My favorite Eliot poem: Mr. Eliot’s Sunday Morning Service

  • Gregory Lopez
    A Solid Journey

    Thanks to Professor Strandberg for making this introduction to TS Eliot freely available, and making one of the more difficult poets in the English language more accessible.

  • WMSC (White Male Senior Citizen) Ronald Elliot Keeperman
    A complex subject made inviting

    Professor Victor Strandberg uses every tool in his magical toolbox to conjure up Clarity, Meaning, and Appreciation for a body of work that has lasting importance for all those who ask themselves the questions that challenge their very being. Search as one might, one cannot find a better, more intelligent, lucid discussion of Eliot's life and works than these video lectures.

  • Rachel Christian
    Fantastic course.

    This is a wonderful course for anyone wishing to have a better understanding and appreciation of T. S. Eliot's poems. The lectures cover not only the literary works and social movements that influenced Eliot, but also how events in Eliot's life and Eliot's own social standing impacted his work and show up throughout his earlier poetry. Highly recommended.

  • Swathy sukumar
    tell fine

    good to go for

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