English 190

Research Seminar: Reading Paradise Lost; Paradise Lost's Reading


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Fall 2021 Goodman, Kevis
M 12-3 301 Wheeler

Book List

Milton, John: Paradise Lost (Norton Critical Edition)

Other Readings and Media

 

A Course Reader (available electronically and as hard copy)

 
 

Description

 

“You who read Paradise Lost,” wrote one of John Milton’s seventeenth-century contemporaries, “What do you read but everything?” Without necessarily making such a grand claim, we will take Milton’s long poem, considered in its entirety, as the center of this class. From there we will look in two directions: both backward in time to the works that Milton read and drew on for Paradise Lost (for he, at least, did read “everything”), and forward to some of the countless poets and critics who have read and responded to this controversial epic at least since the eighteenth century.  We will consider, in other words, the relationship between reading and interpretation, the different politics ascribed to a single text, as well as questions of gender, religion, and context among readers.

You will bring these questions to bear on your own writing and research as well. During the semester you will also learn about how to conduct research, how and where to integrate criticism, theory, and history into your literary argument, and the process of constructing and revising a longer essay over time.

The required text for this course, the Norton Critical Edition of Paradise Lost (ed. Gordon Teskey), compiles a number of Milton’s own sources and a range of subsequent interpretations of the poem from the late seventeenth to the twenty-first century.  We will supplement it with a Course Reader, which will include brief selections from the Bible, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Spenser, Shakespeare, Mary Astell, Samuel Johnson, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Keats, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, William Empson, and others.

 

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