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/ REL 319
If you know anything about John Milton, you probably think of him as some blind guy who wrote a really long poem about the Bible. It’s hard to shake the feeling that Milton is the fustiest of English poets–dull, pious, brilliant and all, and not someone you would read if you didn’t have to. But then what are we to make of the following? The first piece that Milton wrote that was read widely throughout Europe was a boisterous defense of the English Revolution. Milton was most famous in his lifetime as the poet who went to bat for the Puritan insurgents–the poet who came right out and said that the king looked better without his head. Of all the major English poets, Milton is the revolutionary. So a course on Milton is by necessity a course on literature and revolution. We will read Paradise Lost, widely regarded as the greatest non-dramatic poem in English, and a few other books to help us prepare for that big one. Some questions: How did the mid-seventeenth century, probably the most tumultuous decades in the history of modern Britain, transform the culture of the English-speaking world? What is the relationship between literature and the state or between literature and radical politics? Is there a poetics of revolution? How can a poet who seems to be writing for Sunday school–about God and Adam and Eve and the serpent–really have been writing about rebellion all along?
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
one 6- to 8-page paper, one 10- to 12-page paper, regular informal writing , and active seminar participation
a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
seniors, English majors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL pre-1700 Courses
ENGL Literary Histories A