Research in Specific Author(s) or Work(s) (Pre-1800)

L760 — Fall 2020

Penelope Anderson
Days and Times
11:15a - 2:15p W (4 CR)
Course Description

*AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED* English department graduate students and outside minors please email All other students please contact the instructor first for permission.

 TOPIC: Milton and Some Contemporaries

In “London, 1802,” William Wordsworth famously invokes Milton:  “Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour! / England hath need of thee” (1-2).  This plea provokes our first question:  what do we need of Milton?  What in his work seems particularly relevant for our present moment (or for Wordsworth’s)?  Why have his writings proved particularly amenable to certain modes of critical inquiry, and particularly intransigent to others?

And yet Milton has always seemed to be a writer particularly of his own historical moment, perhaps more at home in the cut and thrust of political pamphleteering than in the long-delayed writing of his great epic.  In order to come to grips with Milton and his historical moment, we will read closely and carefully his poetry and (rather less of) his prose:  the short Poems 1645 (including A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle and “Lycidas”); Areopagitica; selections from Of Reformation, Eikonoklastes, and The Readie and Easie Way; Samson Agonistes; selections from the divorce tracts; Paradise Lost; and (perhaps) Paradise Regained.  But we will also read quite a bit from the writers in Milton’s moment and beyond who share his concerns and struggles:  political theorists like Thomas Hobbes and Mary Astell, polemicists like Marchamont Nedham, and poets like Lucy Hutchinson and Phillis Wheatley. 

Writing for the course will culminate in an article-length paper or commensurate creative project, but you will also undertake shorter writing of various kinds, like a book review of a recent monograph or other public-facing writing (for example, an opinion piece reading current political issues using Milton). 

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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