An early 18th-century critic wrote: “A reader of Milton must be always on duty; he is surrounded by sense; it rises in every line.” This course is designed to respond to that recognition. It will be an intensive reading of Milton’s Paradise Lost, along with some of the relevant prose, focusing on the ways in which the poem responds at the level of form to the various literary, political, and theological pressures that bear upon it. We will meet several times in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, looking at early editions of relevant texts, including early copies of Paradise Lost, to see what they may tell us about what the poem might have meant to its early readers as a way of mediating our experience of the poem today. The courses requires weekly responses to readings plus three more sustained writing assignments.
Prerequisite: ENGL 220.