This subject introduces students to the great revolutions of the English seventeenth century through the lens of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667, 1674). Our focus will be on genre, poetic devices, characterization, and interpretative puzzles as we place Milton in the larger literary and political culture of Early Modern England. Weekly lectures and discussion groups will offer a close reading of each of the 12 books of the poem in the context of significant aesthetic, political, economic, theological and epistemological breaks exemplified by the English Revolution of 1642. These include the experiments with new forms of government such as the republic and constitutional monarchy; transformations in attitudes toward gender, as well as sexual and familial relationships; the expansion and diversification of radical Protestant and Puritan religious sects; the origins of modern science and technology with Bacon, Galileo and Descartes; and the development and regulation of new forms of print culture.
The role of poetry in shaping world-views; the epic and other poetic genres; theology; sexuality; education; science; architecture and aesthetics.
Students who successfully complete this subject will have a detailed understanding of Paradise Lost, as well as a working knowledge of other poetic works by John Milton and some of his contemporaries. Students should also have acquired familiarity with the social, cultural, and political contexts of Milton’s literary writing, and will have developed their own critical readings of Paradise Lost in relation to the main currents of criticism on one of the most celebrated poetic works in the English language
Assessment is by 100% coursework, consisting of:
Papers and presentations
There is also a hurdle attendance requirement.
Time management plays a key role in successful university study. Students need to keep in mind that as well as scheduled contact hours for lectures, tutorials and seminars, considerable additional time is needed to complete the academic requirements of each subject.
This course requires a minimum of 8 hours total time commitment a week (3 contact hours; and 5 hours spent for class preparation, reading, and assessment-related tasks).
John Milton’s Paradise Lost (Penguin Classics).
A range of contextual and critical material will be made available in class.