General Catalog Course Title:
Terms Offered:
Spring 2016
Spring 2015
Course Thread: 
Law & Humanities
Kevis Goodman

Probably the most influential and famous (sometimes infamous) literary figure of the seventeenth century, John Milton has been misrepresented too often as a mainstay of a traditional canon rather than the rebel he was. He is also sometimes assumed to be a remote religious poet rather than an independent thinker, who distrusted any passively held faith that was not self-questioning. However, as we follow Milton’s carefully shaped career from the shorter early poems, through some of the controversial prose of the English Civil War era, and at last through the astounding work that emerged in the wake of political defeat (Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes), we will discover a very different literary and political figure, known in his time as a statesman as well as a poet, and in both pursuits more an iconoclast than an icon. We will come to understand Milton’s writing in relation to the revolutions that he witnessed and took part in, and we will also think about his experiments in poetic form, his ambivalent incorporations, revisions, and expansions of classical literature and biblical texts alike, the literary dimension of his unorthodox theology, his writings on love, marriage, and divorce, his long preoccupation with vocation – and more.

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