E 363 • Poetry of Milton
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
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.
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.
Midterm and final; unannounced quizzes; memorization assignment.