Why a T S Eliot International Summer School?
From 9-16 July, the Institute of English Studies will host the 3rd Annual T.S. Eliot International Summer School in Senate House in the heart of Bloomsbury. The venue is adjacent to 24 Russell Square, the former offices of Faber & Faber, where Eliot conducted his life as poet, editor, and publisher for forty years. The Summer School will begin with an official opening by Simon Armitage, who will deliver an informal lecture on his relationship with Eliot’s work, followed by an exciting week of lectures and discussions in celebration of the greatest poet of the twentieth century.
After T. S. Eliot’s death in 1965, most of his manuscripts, letters, and other documents were restricted and unavailable without permission, which was difficult to obtain by scholars and students alike. In the absence of encouraged study, his readers began to drift away, and in the absence of fresh materials, his critics began to focus on his weaknesses more than on his strengths as a Nobel Laureate whose works were translated into 38 languages during his lifetime.
Recently, however, the Eliot Estate has opened the doors by launching a major editorial project that will see the publication of new editions of Eliot’s poetry, prose, drama, and letters, all of which are now underway. Thus, a primary aim of the Summer School is to welcome students and readers from all nations back to the study of Eliot’s poetry, as well as his criticism and drama, as these new materials provide new perspectives and rich opportunities for original research. To foster this pursuit, the Summer School each year brings together the most distinguished scholars of Eliot and modernism to lecture, conduct seminars, exchange ideas, encourage projects, offer direction, and engage in conversation with students at the beginning of this new era of Eliot studies.
In the first two years, students of every age from over twenty nations have come to the intellectual feast, including Australia, China, Canada, India, Israel, Jordan, Latvia, Romania, Russia (Georgia), most European countries, including the United Kingdom, and the United States. They have travelled and conversed with the lecturers on coach trips to Little Gidding, Burnt Norton, and East Coker, and they have enjoyed the company of such distinguished writers as Seamus Heaney, Tom Stoppard, Paul Muldoon, and Robin Robertson, all of whom have joined the lecturers (as Heaney says, “shoulder to shoulder”) to encourage students and support the Summer School.
While we aim to maintain the highest level of discussion and inquiry, the Summer School is far from being the reserve of Academia. We welcome participants from non-academic backgrounds — teachers, business people, artists, lovers of poetry and citizens of literature from every vocation who take delight in poetry and Eliot’s life and work — to join with undergraduate and postgraduate students, faculty, and the wide community of Eliot readers for an exhilarating intellectual, cultural, and social experience. We also enjoy the spiritual support of the Poetry Book Society, of which Eliot was a founder, and we heartily encourage its members to rediscover Eliot with us.
In addition to the lectures, seminars, receptions, and excursions, the Institute and Summer School provide a series of social activities, including poetry readings, discussion groups, walking tours of Bloomsbury, and pub evenings, all arranged to maximise the opportunities for social interaction and intellectual exchange. For detailed information about the programme, lecturers, tutors, and special events for the 2011 Summer School, see the website: http://ies.sas.ac.uk/events/TSE/index.htm.
Director: Ronald Schuchard (Emory)
Executive Director: Wim Van Mierlo (IES)
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