May 24, 2022

T. S. Eliot: Christian Spirituality in the West End

Event Series: The Christian Literary Imagination

Showing the T. S. Eliot: Christian Spirituality in the West End Video

After World War II, T. S. Eliot for the most part abandoned poetry to become a playwright. He had by then come to believe the plays he had written before the war, Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Family Reunion (1939), were dead ends because neither of them provided a model upon which to build a tradition of poetic drama. Eliot’s goal after the war then was to write poetic drama that employed the conventions of popular West End theatre and simultaneously conveyed a Christian vision of the world. The competing demands this goal put upon him are the focus of this talk. They suggest the challenges, or possibly the conventional critical prejudices, a writer in our time faces in articulating a religious vision of the world. Michael Scott, director of the Future of the Humanities Project, provided opening and closing remarks, and Rev. Joseph Simmons, S.J., moderated a Q&A session following the presentation.

To commemorate the final webinar of the series, the Q&A session was followed by a 15-minute panel discussion chaired by Michael Scott with Rev. Joseph Simmons S.J., Kathryn Temple, and Michael Collins on the Christian Literary Imagination.

This event was sponsored by the Future of the Humanities Project; the Georgetown Humanities Initiative; the Georgetown Master’s Program in the Engaged and Public HumanitiesCampion ​Hall, Oxford; and the Las Casas Institute (Blackfriars Hall, Oxford). It is part of a two-year-long series ​on the Christian Literary Imagination.


Michael Collins is a teaching professor of English and dean emeritus at Georgetown University. He has published essays on Anglo-Welsh poetry in Poetry Wales, World Literature Today, the Dictionary of Literary Biography, and the Anglo-Welsh Review. He is an honorary fellow of Wrexham Glyndwr University, University of Wales, and a recipient of Georgetown University’s Presidential Medal and its Bunn Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Rev. Joseph Simmons, S.J., (moderator) is an American Catholic priest currently writing his doctoral thesis at Campion Hall, Oxford, under the supervision of Professor Graham Ward. He is exploring the Christian imagination and the fertile place where belief and unbelief touch in the fiction of Virginia Woolf and Marilynne Robinson. Simmons previously studied theology at Boston College and the Harvard Divinity School. His Licentiate in Sacred Theology thesis, “Via Literaria: Marilynne Robinson's Theology Through a Literary Imagination,” explored the convergence of literary and Christian imaginations.