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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2009

E 363 • The Poetry of Milton

Unique Days Time Location Instructor

Rumrich, J

Course Description

Please refer to the course schedule for course days, time, room location, prerequisites and possible cross-listings:

We will read most of Milton's major poetry and selections from his prose. Approximately a third of the course will be devoted to Paradise Lost. The goal of the course is to inform students about John Milton in his historical circumstances, primarily through study of his poetry and certain of his prose works. Students will also be asked to consider Milton's poems in comparison with similar poems by his contemporaries.

Milton believed that in order to write great poetry, the artist must live a "true poem." Taking Milton at his word, we will pay considerable attention to the extraordinary life and times of this obedient son, who was also a regicidal revolutionary, propagandist, divorcer, heretical theologian, historian, linguist, political philosopher, self-proclaimed prophet, and poet. Given the breadth and variety of Milton’s "true poem," it is a struggle to find coherence in either his life or work. Rather than force an agreement among the various Miltons proposed by modern scholarship, we will seek simply to ask key questions and recognize possible solutions.

One question we will certainly consider is what moved Milton to write an epic in defense of God's ways after he had suffered blindness, utter political defeat, imprisonment, a close brush with a grisly public execution, widespread ridicule, and domestic turmoil, not to mention the gout.

Grading Policy

Midterm and final examinations; unannounced quizzes; memorization assignment.


The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton (Random House, 2007); The Norton Critical Edition of Seventeenth-Century Poetry (WW Norton, 2006)


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