ENGLISH 469 - Milton
Section: 001
Term: FA 2019
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course will be devoted to reading closely the poetry and prose of John Milton, England’s greatest epic poet, amid the various intellectual and social currents of the seventeenth century. Milton is a writer with whom almost every subsequent generation of English writers has had to deal, for better and worse. Milton’s impassioned efforts to address the injustices of his day entailed contradictions that are still very much with us: he was a political revolutionary who was willing to endorse authoritarian methods to accomplish liberal goals; he was a devout believer in meritocracy who rarely felt this belief threaten an inherited if incorrigible misogyny; he was among the first to defend divorce on the grounds of spiritual incompatibility in large part because he so valued the fellowship of marriage; and he was the epic narrator of the War in Heaven who felt that military valor had nothing to do with true virtue. Paradise Lost, his magnificent epic of the fall of humanity from Edenic innocence, interrogates the very divine justice it aspires to assert, and his Satan is one of the most charismatic characters in all of literature. Milton wrote some of the most sublime poetry available in English about the joys of work, about the deeply embodied pleasures of eating and sex, and about human relationships. We will be particularly interested in exploring how Milton’s political career reverberates throughout the poetry—the ways, for example, that his experience as a defender of the revolution against the English monarchy may have influenced his portrait of Satan’s rebellion against a resolutely monarchical God. We will also look at how political defeat produced a radically inward reorientation of Milton’s ardent political and spiritual aspirations. We will spend the lion’s share of our time in an intensive reading of Paradise Lost, but will also read some of the early poetry and prose as well as Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained.

Course Requirements:

Requirements include attendance and participation, 2 essays (each 5-7 pages), a mid-term, and a final exam.

ENGLISH 469 - Milton
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
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