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Annotating Eliot (Phase 1)

For Thursday, we’re going to start annotating “The Waste Land.”  Here’s what you need to do to start:

Now that we’ve sampled some of Eliot’s massively dystopian epic, let’s try to track the way he uses fragments to build up the structure and meaning of his poem. In class, we’ve started to assemble a list of motifs (e.g. wet/dry, impotence/blind/deaf/mute, unreal city, voices/polyphony, nature/roots/organic, exile/sailor/journey, zombie, natural time/human time, fragments/dust, etc.).  Think about which motif you think is most interesting, then let’s split up into groups based on the motif you choose.

Your goal in this project is to track the motif across the poem and to understand how the poem develops this motif. First, on your own, re-read the poem (in hard copy).  Highlight or underline every instance or version of the motif that you find.  Make notes about how and why these instances are related.

Bring your annotated text to class.  We’ll break up into groups, and you will start pooling your resources to harvest motifs across the poem.  Our next stage will involve linking these motifs together electronically.  We’ll worry about that in class.

And, don’t forget, for Thursday, start reading In Our Time.

Finally, a treat.  Turn the lights off, close the windows, and listen to Mr. Eliot.

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