Saturday, July 11, 2009

Censorship, Milton and the Internet

Published a post on my other blog which may be of interest to you Milton experts. Would be interested in your feedback there!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Paradise Lost - Finale - Picking Up the Pieces

Books 10-12:

After the fall - who picks up the pieces?

Can we return to our question of who is the real hero of Paradise Lost? Is there one? How does human history move forward in Milton's epic?

A critic referred to the last two books as 'untransmutable lump' - is he right? What is the function of the last two books? Why the turn to history?

What is the promise that God makes to Adam and Eve in 10.175-193? How does Satan understand it? How does the Edenic pair understand it? Do they get it right? What does it take for them to understand it properly?

Milton's claims that the consolation for Adam and Eve is the 'paradise within happier far'? What is the nature of the consolation?

We will also discuss the final take-home exam. And there will hopefully be refreshments (everyone can feel free to contribute!) for our last class together on Milton.

For a preview of the take-home final, here are the instructions:

Please answer three of the questions listed below, making sure that you answer two questions about Milton’s poetry, and one about Milton’s prose. You may, if you so choose, substitute a question of your own for one of those listed. Please be careful to choose questions in such a way that your answers do not overlap. Your answers should aim to be both lucid and comprehensive; there should be no need, however, to consult any other material than your classroom notes and the texts themselves. Do take the opportunity to use those texts (where appropriate) to help elaborate your argument. There is no necessary length requirement; but remember, as mentioned above, try to be as comprehensive as possible. Try to use the questions as entry-points to get to what matters in the works which we have studied. This is a good opportunity to consolidate the material which we have discussed up until this point!

Friday, June 12, 2009

she pluck'd she eat: Paradise Lost 7,8,9 Updated

Some questions:

1. In Book 7, how does Milton imagine creation - does the conception of creation (especially 168-172) parallel our discussion of Miltonic cosmology in Book 5?

2. What does Milton mean by 'process of speech' in line 177?

3. How does Milton deal with questions of representation in lines 601-605? Can we generalize from these lines to Milton's general strategies of representation?

4. Is Milton interested in cosmology? Does he want us to be similarly interested? How does he take sides in the debates between Copernicus and Ptolemy? Why? Do Adam and Even need to take an advanced degree course in astronomy?

5. How does the representation of Adam's creation differ from that of Eve?

6. Does Milton turn the relatonship between the genders into a theological problem? What is the difference between Adam and Eve? between genders?

7. How does the invocation to Book 9 function? How does Milton further affiliate himself with classical epic traditions? how does he distance himself from those traditions?

8. On what do Adam and Eve disagree before they fall? Which one of them is right?

9. Why do the Edenic pair fall? Where does the fault lie for Eve's fault? for Adam's? By what means does Satan trip up Adam and Eve? How does Milton portray Satan as tempter? What is the particular threat which he represents?

10. How does Adam respond after the fall of Eve? Does he do the right thing?

See ya Monday!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What's Up With Milton? Paradise Lost - Books 5 and 6

Do you believe in angels? And even if you don't, if you did, would the angels you believed in eat? That is: why do Milton's angels eat? (among other things) Is Milton just having a good time with his audience or is there something more important at stake?

To Adam's inquiry, how does Raphael describe the cosmos? particularly the relationship between spirit and matter? Is there a relationship between Raphael's cosmological musings and Milton's emphasis on angelic digestion?

How does the interaction between Gabriel and Satan at the end of Book 4 help in our understandings of Miltonic heroism? What about the interaction between Abdiel and Satan in Book 5? And finally, what about the war in heaven? Is that the place of true heroism?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some Critics on Milton

Our self-help sheet is now available on the class documents site.

The secondary material on Milton is - as we have suggested - immense. You can begin to get your bearings here.

But here's a quick run through of some more recent critics that may useful (To say it's an incomplete list is an understatement: I will add to the list when I have the chance):

William Empson, Milton's God
Stanley Fish, Surprised by Sin
Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution
Edward Tayler, Milton's Poetry: Its Development in Time
Marshall Grossman, Authors to Themselves
Stephen Fallon, Milton Among the Philosophers
John Rogers, The Matter of Revolution
Victoria Silver, Imperfect Sense, The Predicament of Milton's Irony
David Loewenstein and James Grantham Turner, Politics, Poetics ad Hermeneutics
Sharon Achinstein, Milton and the Revolutionary Reader

In addition, the MLA bibliography is the best resource for finding critical materials on the issues which are of most interest to you in Milton's work.

I will be available in my office for consultation about paper topics during my office hours.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coming Attractions: Paradise Lost, Books III and IV

Just to keep track some of the questions which we have been asking about Paradise Lost.

1. In what ways does the poem register political defeat or loss? In a more general sense, in what sense is the poem political? Does Satan really give voice to Milton's own claims for liberty? In what way might Milton qualify a reader's initial enthusiasm in identifying the perspective of Satan with that of the poet?

2. What are the different narrative perspectives present in Paradise Lost? Is there suspense in the poem? When a reader feels suspense, what point of view - or perspective on narrative - would she be adopting? How do such issues of narrative relate to other questions we raised - about time and free will?

3. What is the psychology of defeat for the Satanic host? What are the ways in which the various devils cheer themselves up?

4. Are the devils (and the angels who we are about to meet in Book IV) physical? spiritual? Does it make a difference?

For next time, some preliminary questions:

1. What kind of vision does Milton claim for himself in the poetic invocation to Book III?

2. How does Milton further refine conceptions of free will and determinism in book III? Doesn't Milton indulge in the same philosophical thoughts as the devils who the poet figures in Book II 'in wandering mazes lost"?

3. Why is Milton's God so boring?

4. Are there significant differences between Satan's volunteering to fly to earth in Book II and Jesus' volunteering in Book III? Do both Satan and Jesus want glory? Is there a difference?

4. How does Milton represent Adam and Eve in Book IV? How does Milton represent gender? sexuality? Is Milton a misogynist?

5. How does Milton represent Eden? In Book III, Milton claims he is going to represent things 'invisible to mortal sight' - how does he do that in relationship to Eden?

6. What is Milton's attitude towards marriage?

Watch this space for clarifications and additions.