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Title: "Planning and guessing" : T.S. Eliot and the discourse of educational reform
Author: Hampton, Martyn
ISNI:       0000 0004 2710 5179
Awarding Body: Keele University
Current Institution: Keele University
Date of Award: 2011
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The purpose of this thesis is to contextualise the interwar writing of T. S. Eliot within the broader discourse of state reform that carne to define the British welfare state. Eliot was especially concerned by what he perceived to be the ideological direction of the education system, as this system played a fundamental role in his account of cultural transmission. In order to evaluate the critical tendency which suggests that Eliot's late poetry became asocial, the thesis employs post-structural discourse theory to trace a growing anxiety in his work about the very language of democratic reform and public mediation. It surveys a range of pro-reform discourse, from contemporary sociological texts to newspapers, all of which sought to hegemonise social organisation by recourse to a putative idea of democracy. It pays especial attention to the writing of H. C. Dent, editor of the Times Educational Supplement, with whom Eliot pursued a detailed critical engagement. By exploring the degree to which Eliot's poetry rehearses or interrogates these discourses, the thesis argues that from the outset his poetry was preoccupied with the calculation and formalisation of social space by recourse to a modernist aesthetic under perceived threat from secular state planning. Eliot's account of national collective life as a historical process of tradition and orthodox observance contrasts with the popular attempt to programme national life according to future-oriented prescription. From a deep sense of personal crisis described in the early poetry, this preoccupation develops into a classically mandated recognition of social consensus, which reaches its fullest realisation in Four Quartets. The thesis concludes that while Eliot's attempt to propose an alternative to centralised national direction may not have been ultimately successful, it nevertheless demonstrates a particularly significant intellectual and poetic negotiation of social organisation and public discourse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available