A Short Course on The Waste Land

A Short Course on The Waste Land 

Online-Thursdays, September 1-29, 2022

“The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot, published in 1922, is widely regarded as one of the most influential, powerful— and at times 

one of the most controversial—modernist poems of the twentieth century. The poem’s collaged, fragmentary style, its frequent shifts among 

speakers, its use of literary allusions and its storied “difficulty” gave new meaning to literary engagement when the poem reached its first readers. 

To celebrate the centenary of the iconic 434-line poem, Community of Writers staff poets Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman will guide readers through an examination and a meditative reading of the five parts of  “The Waste Land” on five consecutive Thursdays of September, focusing on one part per session, tracing the poem’s memorable imagery and references in an investigation of its themes and legendary lines. In this time of climate change, pandemic and global despair, special attention will be paid to the way the poem is still relevant as it addresses urban environmental anxiety and the human condition, perhaps with an eye to finding how its techniques and phrases might deliver an odd comfort and energy for our time.

This course will take place on Zoom or a similar platform.

This event is supported by the International T.S. Eliot Society. Learn more at tseliot.sites.luc.edu.

Dates/Times:  Thursdays in September, 2022  4:00-6:00 PM (Pacific) on Zoom

Tuition:  $300. Limited financial aid available. Please contact us if needed.

What to Expect:

  • Five, two-hour weekly sessions online with assigned reading.
  • In the first hour, Brenda Hillman and Robert Hass will explore and supply background on the previously assigned poems. When possible, we will read through the poems together.
  • In the second hour, we will meet in a large group for conversation and questions, or, with the longer, more complicated poems, to enter into deeper focus.
  • Participant questions and comments may be addressed using Zoom’s chat feature.
  • Optional small (8-10 person) discussion groups will be available to those with the energy and interest after the formal session is over. Discussion guides will be provided.

These sessions will be recorded, and will be available for later viewing by registered participants for 3o days following the final session. 


The Waste Land by T.S.Eliot; handouts for each session will be posted online.

Participants who don’t own the text, are asked to purchase and explore it, if possible, before September.
The Waste Land (Vintage Classics)


Session 1 (Sept 1): Introduction and “The Burial of the Dead”

Session 2 (Sept 8):  “A Game of Chess”

Session 3 (Sept 15): “The Fire Sermon”

Session 4 (Sept 22): “Death by Water”

Session 5  (Sept 29): “What the Thunder Said”

Online, and year-round, The Writers’ Annex is composed of short courses, seminars, workshops, and more. Our vision is to bring the creative insight and experience of our staff poets and prose writers to our community in all seasons, not just in the summertime, and not just here in our Valley.  Our online offerings will address such topics as eco-poetics, translation, and generative sessions. Some will be one or two days, some will be weekend intensives, and some will meet weekly for a month or two. In addition, we hope these offerings will help offset the tremendous expenses we face as an organization for our traditional in-person events in Olympic Valley.   Join our Mailing List

The course has ended. However, we will be releasing a self-guided version of this course in 2023. Stay tuned for more.

Contact us for information on how to view past courses