David is, however, quite right. Undergraduate theses, however well done,
are almost impossible to see as major contributions to scholarship. Even
though they often have original insights, they are not working with
sufficient research experience, and they cannot have read enough to push
knowledge in the way expected of, for example, a good dissertation, and
even dissertations nearly always need major rewriting and revision to be

In this student's abstract, for example, there is confusion about the
meanings of "modernist" vs. "modernity," and it sets up a false
dichotomy between "moving forward" and "moving back." Not only Eliot but
nearly all major modernists also looked to the past to reinvent the
present and future. So do we exclude Joyce because he structured Ulysses
on the Odyssey or Yeats because he was fascinated with Byzantium or H.D.
because she wrote about "Helen in Egypt" or David Jones because he keeps
drawing on Y Gododdin? Eliot not only did not react against modernism;
he is seen by over a century of readers and critcs (and has been since
about 1915) as defining it. I don't always agree with Stallworthy, but
to say he totally misunderstood Eliot is, unfortunately, silly. All of
this comes from the lack of context built up over a long period of
research. Ironically, "modernity" has been largely used to re-value work
of the "modernist" period that was not, like Eliot's, "modernist" but
did deal with the then-contemporary world. Hence the title
Modernism/Modernity of a major journal. An example is the poetry of WWI:
it was Paul Fussell who claimed that the great modernists who wrote
about the War were not themselves the ones who fought. Of course that
means the Owen, Sassoon, Thomas, and even Jones are not "modernist," but
even Eliot praise the modernism of Jones. The others did not write in
modernist styles (and if there is a problem, I think it is the emphasis
on form itself as defining "modernist") but were great poets. And Jones
did go to the War, as did Hugh MacDiarmid.

So you are both right: it is important and valuable to encourage
students, but it does matter how they are encouraged. Giving the
impression that they are in the same category as advanced research
and/or validating a lack of clear definition, sufficient context, and
new thinking is counterproductive and not a serious point for Eliot


>>> "[log in to unmask]" 12/01/12 1:24 PM >>>
Still, this is a student and one must encourage such endeavors even
though a student's perspective will always be limited by his or her
limited experience and understanding.

The Norton Anthology is a standard compilation used in colleges to study
periods of literature. Introductory and basic but if one reads it cover
to cover one does get a good dosage of a period's prose and poetry,
albeit edited. Not the best but not a bad starting place. The ideal of
course is that the student wants more after reading a writer and goes
forth into the promised land on his or her own.

As I said, encourage such stufents ventures and be compassionate of the
young eager for poetry.

Eugene Schlanger 

Sent from my iPhone

On Dec 1, 2012, at 5:59 AM, David Boyd <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Sorry, CR, found this pretty underwhelming - readable style, yes, but
rather stating the obvious, and very thin on any review of any Eliot
commentary, other than this 'Norton Anthology' (which I've never read.)

On 1 December 2012 04:17, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

amazing student scholarship

CMC Senior Theses / CMC Student Scholarship / 2012
T.S. Eliot's Anti-Modernism: Poetry and Tradition
in the European Waste Land
John Bedecarré
Claremont McKenna College

most worthy of scholarly note