Faculty Sponsor

Edward Upton


Arts and Sciences


Christ College

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


Be it as a completed work or as individual sections, the ambiguity of T.S. Eliot’s most famous poem has always been the subject of scholarly debate. Though concrete conclusions are seldom reached in any of these discussions, the mere exchange of readers' ideas is often the most rewarding aspect of the dialogue surrounding the poem. The presented paper attempts to join that conversation through an analysis of the fifth section of The Waste Land and how it may be related to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Through the interpretation of a number of allusions, I propose that there is a journey of sorts depicted in the final section of The Waste Land, and that this journey is rather similar to that seen in the first two thirds of Dante’s epic voyage through the afterlife. In exploring such a connection, new lines of interdisciplinary thought may be inspired in other members of the community, be it in a theological, philosophical, or perhaps even psychological sense. If nothing else, however, the proposed subject matter will draw attention to a potential narrative within the organized choas of The Waste Land.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Katherine Balkema is a senior Psychology major with minors in social work and the humanities. As part of her humanities minor, she studied both the Divine Comedy and the poetry of T.S. Eliot in separate seminars. Given that the Eliot seminar was the last course needed to complete her minor, she took the opportunity to connect what she had learned over her coursework in one final project. This is her first academic presentation.