T.S. Eliot character honored at 100 year celebration

The Honors College, English department and Journal of Narrative Theory at Eastern Michigan University will be hosting a 100th-year celebration for “The Song of Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot, at 3 p.m., Friday in Halle Library G03.

Professor of literature Elizabeth Daumer has been studying Eliot for many years and has decided to throw a celebration for the famous poem and character.

“It’s such a chance to bring my personal attachments to campus,” she said. “It’s like a birthday party. Prufrock is a fictional character but he has become so real to all the people who think, read and write about him, so we’re celebrating his 100th birthday.”

Daumer described Prufrock as a memorable character and that Eliot made a new type of masculinity, the modern male, anxious and fearful of women. She said she finds his poetry performative and very interesting.

“There’s no requirement on the knowledge of the poem,” she said. “It’s going to be brought to life to students. This poem comes off the page.”

“Do I dare disturb the universe?” is a quote from Prufrock, the anxious anti-hero from the poem.

Published in the American Poetry Magazine in 1915, Eliot’s poem is a dramatic monologue narrated by Prufrock.

The event will consist of a stage reading/performance of the poem and two talks. Professor of literature Craig Dionne will give one on Hamlet, who appeared in the poem. Professor of philosophy Laura McMahon will give the second one on the French philosopher, Henri Bergman, and philosophy of time and how it shows up in the poem. The event will also consist of a teaching and students who will be mapping the poem.

Daumer hopes the audience can participate. A “post-Halloween Extravaganza,” students can come in their Halloween costumes as the poem consists of visits from mermaids, John the Baptist, Hamlet and many more characters. Faculty as well as students will be involved in the performances and discussions of the poem.

“Students will learn about T.S. Eliot, the power of poetry, the mind of another person, and they’re going to see academia at its best. The Humanities disciplines, [literature, philosophy, communications, and theatre arts] are all coming together to discuss one poem.”

Daumer said she hopes for performance, enlightening talks and a lively conversation.

“We live in the time where the arts are seen as a spendable luxury,” she said. “It’s a deeply human activity and we need it and we can learn a lot from it. I think it’s going to show people what the arts are and why we need them and why they’re important.”

Daumer said students will be entertained and enlightened.

An Afternoon with J. Alfred Prufrock is free and LBC approved.

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