In his seminar entitled "Romanticism from Rousseau to Hitler," Auden assigned his students the works of Kierkegaard, Kafka, Baudelaire, and Melville, among others. As Kenneth Lewars, one of Auden's former students, explains in his article "Auden's Swarthmore Chart" (published in volume 1 of the Connecticut Review), the title of the seminar "was suggestive, not descriptive" - the course focused on "the heterogeneous group of writers who especially interested Auden at the time" (Lewars 45). In much the same way that the professor "assimilat[ed] all of these writers to his own view of the world," Auden prepared the chart below (also transcribed and available as a PDF and reproduced with the permission of the Estate W.H. Auden) for his students, a schematic representation of his ideas and beliefs. From symbols and notions to literary and religious allusions, this chart contains Auden's view of the world (and of worlds beyond), at least as he envisioned it in the 1940s. This unique handout was intended not as Auden's stab at defining the meaning and essence of existence for his students, but rather his attempt at fulfilling "the more private purpose of stimulating thought" among them (Lewars 56).
*Quoted by Humphrey Carpenter in W.H. Auden, A Biography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981): "My seminar on Romanticism starts tomorrow. Quakers or no Quakers, I shall serve bread and cheese and beer at four o'clock." (from a letter to Ursula Niebuhr, p. 319)