WF 1:25PM - 2:40PM
The poet John Milton lived through a bloody civil war that concluded with the execution of England’s king – an action he enthusiastically endorsed – and the establishment of a radical government. He watched with excitement as new theories of science reshaped European perceptions of everything from the cosmos to grains of dust. And he participated in the passionate and often violent religious debates that raged across early modern Europe. This course will consider Milton’s poetry and prose within the context of political, philosophical and religious revolutions. Placing particular emphasis on his great epic Paradise Lost and his tragedy Samson Agonistes, we will examine the evolution of his poetic style in relation to his historical experience. Throughout the semester we will also consider whether truth claims – religious, scientific, or political – can license violent actions, as well as the role of literature in investigating and disseminating truth. In order to do so, we will draw on contemporary philosophy of religion, politics, and aesthetics, as well as Milton’s own descriptions of his beliefs.