ENGLISH 469 - Milton
Fall 2023, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


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 ideals and 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 increasing political engagements reverberate 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.  



Course Requirements:

As is appropriate for such a politically engaged writer, attendance and participation are required. Zoom certainly makes this more complicated, and we will all be at times hostage to the quality of our internet connections. But when you can, I and your classmates would be grateful if you would keep your cameras on.

You will also write 2 essays (each 5-7 pages), and take a final exam.

Intended Audience:

This course is accessible to all students who are curious about John Milton, the poet who gave the central myth of Western religion its most compelling, and unsettling, representation.


ENGLISH 469 - Milton
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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CourseProfile (Atlas)

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