ENGL414 - Milton

Prerequisite: Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department. Poetry and major prose in their social, political, and literary-historical contexts. Special attention to Paradise Lost. Other works may include Samson Agonistes and shorter poems.

Paradise Lost is a very long (and therefore somewhat daunting) poem. But it is one of the great works in English, and one—next to Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Progress and the Bible—that crucially informs our own American literary history. It’s about more than two naked people and a snake. It’s about falling and choosing; love and sacrifice; and our angels and demons. It’s about the faith that allows people to make sense of suffering and loss. It is mostly about the nature of sin. We will begin the term by reading shorter works that trace Milton’s evolution as a writer, and in the second half of the course we will select readings from Milton’s greatest works.