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

Fall 2005

E 379S • Senior Seminar

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33570 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
PAR 308

Course Description

This seminar explores the work of two of England's greatest poet prophets: the 17th-century puritan John Milton and his Romantic-period successor, the Christian visionary William Blake. There are many circumstantial similarities between the two. Historically, both men lived during revolutionary times and wrote epic poems during a period of disillusionment. Aesthetically, both employ a range of distinctive rhetorical strategies that impart to their poetry a reflexive immediacy that often transcends all politics and ideology, time and place, or seems to. In addition, the relation of Blake to Milton offers one of literary history's most striking instances of imaginative influence, and raises large questions about the nature of the creative process and the whole business of finding what Milton called "answerable style". Throughout, we will ponder each poet's developing ideas about God, man, and the purpose and meaning of human existence, about inspiration, prophecy, and Church dogma, about purity, sex, and transgression. We will try to see how each poet's differing commitment to an idea of poetry as a form of criticism led him to recognize with mixed sorrow and joy that the prophet's truth finally cannot escape being historically conditioned by the accidents of time and place (which is not to say that it is historically determined).

Grading Policy

Three 3-page close-readings 15% each
12-page term paper which may incorporate earlier work 45%
Contribution to discussion 10%


We will concentrate on Milton, "L'Allegro and Il Penseroso", "Lycidas", "Areopagitica", Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes; Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, The Book of Urizen, Milton.

Nor will we neglect to read a number of literary-critical essays and book chapters representing some of the major 20th-century approaches to these works.


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