Religion, Philosophy and Myth in T.S. Eliot’s Poetry

Call for Papers


Plenary Speaker: Professor Valentine Cunningham

(Author of British Writers of the Thirties & Reading After Theory)

Seminar Leader: Dr Jane Dowson

(Author of Women, Modernism and British Poetry, 1910-1939: Resisting Femininity)


Colloquium at University of Leicester, 6th September 2013


This colloquium responds to the burgeoning critical interest in the religious and spiritual themes within literary modernism. As Barry Spurr argues in Anglo-Catholic in Religion: T.S. Eliot and Christianity (2010), there is yet much scope for reconsidering Eliot’s poetry vis-à-vis his religious position. Eliot’s modernist poetics are inseparable from his spiritual sensibility, and his Anglo-Catholic belief was shaped by other discursive influences such as anthropology and philosophy. Furthermore, Eliot’s spiritual development was not a logical matter and his devotional poetry is rarely didactic or transparent. This colloquium seeks to pay particular attention to the religious nuances of Eliot’s poetic development.


As a colloquium, the day will consist of discussion of papers which are submitted in full and circulated to all participants in advance. We welcome papers that consider the religious/spiritual implications of T.S. Eliot’s poetry. Topics may include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:


  • Anglo-Catholic belief
  • Prufrock, a meaningless life and the quest for spiritual fulfilment
  • Traditions of religious poetry
  • Mythography/New Criticism and restoring the waste land
  • The use of biblical metaphor
  • Ariel Poems and revelation
  • Modernist poetics and expressions of faith in a post-religious context
  • Ash-Wednesday, faith and lack of faith
  • Biblical prophets of doom or salvation
  • Four Quartets and the movement of time


Please send proposals of 250-300 words to Dr Scott Freer (author of Modernist Mythopoeia: The Twilight of the Gods, Palgrave 2013), by 31st March 2013. Delegates must submit completed papers (approx. 4,000 words) by 20th July 2013. Publishers will be approached with a proposal for a collection of essays based on the colloquium.