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Spring 2016 Undergraduate English Courses: Renaissance

358:316 Milton

01  MTH3  CAC  17367  COIRO  MU-210

John Milton is a towering figure in English and American literature and history. Studying Milton means studying one of the most revered figures in literary history. Be assured as well that studying Milton is one of the most exhilarating and deeply thought-provoking experiences you will ever have. Milton is famous for his learning, but he is also powerfully accessible to his readers. The core of Milton’s poetics is the insistence that we, the readers, must decide what is right and wrong at every juncture.

In this course we will read most of Milton’s English poetry and a selection of Milton’s prose. Milton’s career can be thought of in three phases—the relatively private years before the English civil war; the middle years when Milton was deeply involved in the overthrow of the king and then in government by parliament and lord protector; and finally the years after 1660 when the Stuart monarchy was restored to the British throne, a bitter disappointment to Milton. We will begin with Milton’s work before he turned thirty, including the Nativity Ode, the companion poems L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle (aka Comus), and Lycidas. During the 1640s and 1650s Milton was an important public intellectual; from this period we will read Areopagitica. During the Restoration Milton published Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. We will read these great poems slowly and carefully.

 The requirements of this course are: careful reading, active participation (attendance matters!) and three short papers. There will also be a final exam.