Bill's Project

  With my project, I plan to map out the imagery of The Waste Land and compare this to its many allusions.  I'm specifically interested in highlighting the motifs of water and dust, which type of allusions are connected to these images and ultimately how they function in the poem.  The conceptual aim of my project is to evaluate any thematic conflict between the allusions in the text, which have been read as the voices of the dead (and thus waste), and the visual aspects, and then understand the potential meaning of this conflict.  Water, for instance, is the most frequently used word in The Waste Land.  This seems counter-intuitive, though, because my general impression from reading the poem suggests dryness, sterility, and death.  Why, then, is the most commonly used word, and specifically its represented meaning (fertility), opposite to the general tone of the poem? 

This project, however, might go in a different direction.  If the imagery of The Waste Land operates as a modified allusion, I am curious to know the subtle differences between quoting another author's work and suggesting a collectively understood idea through an image.  Can imagery allude to something?  Would this depend on a cultural understanding of an image or does each reader have to interact with the image to create meaning?  Whichever direction my project goes, I intend to make a map of the word associations of images and allusions.

My archive will include a list of textual allusions in The Waste Land.  I will use criticisms about these allusions for an interpretative framework.  Most of these, I expect, will agree that the voices are from the past and therefore dead.  Hopefully, I'll find a few that disagree, though.  This part should not be too different from the bibliography of a book or codex.  Next, I'll start "mapping" the imagery in the poem.  This will require tagging.  Since tagging is interpretive, I will use more criticism and also do some of my own close-reading.  My archive will also be effected as I break and separate images into concrete units, which is different than treating imagery as a continuous landscape.  

I expect the biggest problem will be archiving critics that disagree.  If I tag an image as two contradictory things, how will my map look?    


I really like the idea of a collectively understood image through literary quotation, and using technology to analyze it. A few questions present themselves at the moment.

Are the secondary sources you're planning to use literary or scholarly?

What do you mean by mapping? Are you thinking of a geographical layout, or perhaps something more like a network graph? And if so, what do you hope it would show you?

I'd appreciate it if you'd send me some material, once you feel you've got enough, or drop by my office to have a conversation about it.