T. S. Eliot, New England, and Japonisme: A presentation by Anita Patterson
- 5:30 pm on Tuesday, October 29, 2013
- 7:00 pm on Tuesday, October 29, 2013
- 745 Commonwealth Avenue (School of Theology), Room 625
“Japonisme” is a term art historians have primarily used to describe how the discovery of Japanese woodblock prints influenced French Impressionism, but research in American Studies has documented how Japonisme also developed in the United States, as a trend that shaped decorative arts and popular culture, as well as poetry, music, and the fine arts. Anita Patterson’s paper will explore how T. S. Eliot’s Japonisme reveals his effort to come to terms with his New England heritage. Drawing on Eliot’s early poetry and prose, she will argue that Eliot’s adaptation of the techniques of Japonisme indicates his awareness of his family’s roots in a region with longstanding ties to Japan, and helps us to understand how Eliot’s Harvard coursework and ambivalent literary encounter with Boston-area Orientalists such as Emerson and Thoreau laid a foundation for his modernism.