Our final paper for WR 150: “Modern and Contemporary American Poetry” builds upon the analytical, argumentative, and research skills introduced in the first two papers. In order to enlarge the scope and complexity of their arguments, students are asked to conduct a more substantial exploration of multiple poems by any poet of their choosing or a longer poem such as Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Similar to Papers 1 and 2, students must find their motivation for writing in the arguments of others; however, this time students are not provided any exhibit or argument sources for their consideration. Paper 3 required students to locate and engage with all source material independently. Beyond this, the paper had to be 2500-3000 words in length and use at least five sources (two of which had to be argument sources). Strong papers featured a compelling and researched prelude, a multi-source stasis, exemplary usage of poetic terminology, and a purposeful usage of background and theory sources.
George Danis’s final essay “The World of Eliot’s Waste Land” is an incredibly sophisticated and ambitious argument about perhaps the most difficult and complex American poem ever written. What is most remarkable about George’s essay is his engagement with long-standing literary critics such as Cleanth Brooks and D. C. Fowler; his usage of a variety of source material from Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil; and his poetic analysis, the breadth and depth of which any scholar of T. S. Eliot’s work would find persuasive and illuminating.
— JASON TANDON