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ENGL402: The Poetry of John Milton

Unit 1: The Life and Times of John Milton   John Milton lived in a period of great religious turmoil, intellectual and artistic exploration, and political change. He witnessed a series of intense political and military conflicts pitting the Parliamentarians against the Royalists, the execution of King Charles I, the institution of a Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell, and the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 - not to mention a number of developments in the relatively young Church of England. It is nearly impossible to read his poetry without attending to this context, as he actively contributed to lively debates on public affairs and frequently (urgently!) commented on these situations in his literary work.

In this unit, we will contextualize Milton within these dramatic times, stopping to review his core beliefs (as articulated through his prose writings as well as his literary works) and introduce ourselves to the breadth of his oeuvre. 

Unit 1 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 13.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 1.25 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 3.75 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4: 7 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to
- provide a historical account of Milton’s life and times;
  - define the following terms: Calvinism, Puritanism, and Protestantism;
  - describe the importance of Charles I, the British Commonwealth, and the Restoration of the Monarchy;
  - detail Milton’s major religious and philosophical beliefs as well as his political perspective and chosen literary forms (including his epic poetry); and
  - define and describe “Miltonic rhetoric.”

1.1 Milton’s Times   Guiding Questions:

  • What are the salient religious and political issues of Milton’s day and where does he stand in relationship to other thinkers of his era?
     
  • What are the salient cultural and literary issues of the Renaissance and Neo-Classical eras and how did they shape Milton’s worldview? 

1.1.1 Religion in Peril: Catholicism, Puritanism, and the Protestant Reformation   - Reading: Darkness Visible: David Parry’s “Milton’s Religious Context” Link: Darkness Visible: David Parry’s “Milton’s Religious Context” (HTML)  

 Instructions: Read this webpage in order to get a sense for the
tense religious climate into which Milton was born.  

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 15
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.2 Political Changes: Charles I, the Commonwealth, and the Restoration of the Monarchy   - Reading: Darkness Visible: Gabriel Robert’s “Milton’s Political Context” Link: Darkness Visible: Gabriel Robert’s “Milton’s Political Context” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage in order to get a sense for the political climate in which Milton lived.

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 15
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.3 Neo-Classical Intellectual and Artistic Trends   - Reading: VictorianWeb: “Neoclassicism: An Introduction” Link: VictorianWeb: “Neoclassicism: An Introduction” (PDF)

 Also available in:[  
 HTML](http://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/nc/ncintro.html)  

 Instructions: Read this brief overview of the literature and
intellectual trends that defined the neo-classical period.  

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 15
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above. "Neoclassicism: An Introduction"
may be reproduced for educational or scholarly use under
[these](http://www.victorianweb.org/misc/using.html) conditions.
  • Reading: Dr. Ruth Nestvold’s “The Augustan Age” Link: Dr. Ruth Nestvold’s “The Augustan Age” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this brief overviews of the literature and intellectual trends that defined the neo-classical period.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above. 

1.1.4 The Renaissance’s Legacy   - Reading: VictorianWeb: “Neoclassicism: An Introduction” Link: VictorianWeb: “Neoclassicism: An Introduction” (PDF)

 Also available in:[  
 HTML](http://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/nc/ncintro.html)  
    
 Instructions: Revisit the third paragraph of the reading.  

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above. "Neoclassicism: An Introduction" may
be reproduced for educational or scholarly use
under [these](http://www.victorianweb.org/misc/using.html) conditions. 
  • Reading: The Norton Anthology of English Literature’s “Introduction to Renaissance/16th Century Literature” Link: The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Introduction to Renaissance/16thCentury Literature (HTML)

    Instructions: Read the text linked above.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above. "Neoclassicism: An Introduction" may be reproduced for educational or scholarly use under these conditions. 

1.2 Milton’s Life   Guiding Questions:

  • What are the most significant events from Milton’s life that shaped his worldview?
     
  • How do the tracts “Of Reformation” and “The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce” give us a sense of Milton’s religious and political views and of his persona and style as an essay writer?
     
  • How did Milton’s view his own blindness and how did it affect his understanding of himself as a poet? 
  • Reading: Luminarium: “Life of John Milton” Link: Luminarium: “Life of John Milton” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this brief biography on Milton’s life. As you progress through the subunits below, test yourself on what you have retained. For example, once you have read the above selections, ask yourself to describe his “Early Life and Education” when you reach point 1.2.1 and discuss his preparation for a career as a poet when you reach point 1.2.2.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Darkness Visible: Katharine Fletcher’s “A Biography of John Milton” Link: Darkness Visible: Katharine Fletcher’s “A Biography of John Milton” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this brief biography on Milton’s life. As you progress through the subunits below, test yourself on what you have retained. For example, once you have read the above selections, ask yourself to describe his “Early Life and Education” when you reach point 1.2.1 and discuss his preparation for a career as a poet when you reach point 1.2.2.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.1 Preparing for a Career in Poetry: Rigorous Scholarship in the Humanities and Languages   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton’s Education” Link: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton’s Education” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read this brief text for a background on Milton’s
education.  

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

1.2.2 Contemplating the Priesthood in the Anglican Church   - Reading: MSJ World Civ: “Milton09” Link: MSJ World Civ: "Milton09" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page that will give a brief background to Milton’s Early Life and Education, his decision not to become an Anglican priest, and his strongly independent religious views.
 
Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

1.2.3 Involvement in Political Controversy and Imprisonment   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “Of Reformation Link: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s Of Reformation (PDF)

 Also available in: [  
 HTML](http://www.brysons.net/miltonweb/ofreformation.html)  
    
 Instructions: Read this version of Book 1.  
    
 Note on the text: In *Of Reformation*, Milton discusses changes in
the Church of England since its establishment under Henry VIII,
arguing that the Church should continue to distance itself further
from the Catholic Church.  

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

1.2.4 Milton’s Revolutionary Arguments for Divorce   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “The Doctrine of Discipline and Divorce Link: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[HTML](http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/ddd/book_1/index.shtml)  
    
 Instructions: Click the link above and read the excerpt.  
    
 Note on the text: Denied the right to apply for divorce and facing
intense humiliation, Milton wrote *The Doctrine and Discipline of
Divorce* just after separating from his wife, Marie Powell, in order
to promote the legality of his separation. The full text of Milton’s
tract has been made available through Early Modern Literary Studies,
a refereed literary journal.  
    
 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

1.2.5 Milton’s Blindness   - Lecture: You Tube: Professor John Rogers’ Lecture #12, “The Blind Prophet” Link: You Tube: Professor John Rogers’ Lecture #12, “The Blind Prophet” (YouTube)

 Also available in:[  
 HTML, Quicktime,
MP3](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-220/lecture-12)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this lecture.  

 Watching this lecture and taking notes will take approximately 1
hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: This video is released under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/). The
video is re-posted from Yale Open Courseware and attributed to John
Rogers. The original version can be
found [here](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-220#sessions). 
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “Sonnet XXII” Link: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “Sonnet XXII” (PDF) 

    Also available in:

    HTML (Sonnet XXII); eText format in Google Books (Available for free)
     
    Instructions: Read the sonnet.
     
    Note on the texts: In Sonnet XXII, Milton addresses the experience of blindness and mourns his own loss of sight. The majority of the Milton poetical and prose works you will read throughout this semester, including the two pieces above, are accessible through Dartmouth University’s John Milton Reading Room.
    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: The resource above is from the Dartmouth John Milton Reading Room and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License. The original versions can be found here

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “Paradise Lost 3.22 - 55” Link: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s Paradise Lost 3.22 - 55 (HTML)

    Also available in:[

    HTML](http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_3/index.shtml) (*Paradise Lost* 3.22 - 55); eText format in Google Books (Available for free)
     
    Instructions: Read verses 22 - 55 of Paradise Lost Book 3. When we refer to portions of Paradise Lost in this course, the first number (before the period) refers to the book number; the second number (after the period) refers to the line number.
     
    Note on the texts: In the Paradise Lost excerpt, Milton addresses the experience of blindness and mourns his own loss of sight. The majority of the Milton poetical and prose works you will read throughout this semester, including the two pieces above, are accessible through Dartmouth University’s John Milton Reading Room.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: The text by John Milton is in the public domain. 

  • Reading: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora Schwartz’s “An Approach to Reading and Writing about Poems” Link: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora Schwartz’s “An Approach to Reading and Writing about Poems” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: In this course, you will read a number of Milton’s poems. While your previous coursework should have prepared you for the critical process of reading poetry and responding to it, you should brush up with Dr. Schwartz’s guide prior to reading the first poem of Milton’s we will encounter in this course.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton’s Blindness” Link: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton’s Blindness (PDF)

    Instructions: Read this brief reading for a background on Milton’s loss of eyesight.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License

1.3 An Overview of Milton’s Beliefs   Guiding Questions:

  • What are some specific political ideas Milton held that were out of the mainstream of most people in his day?
     
  • What were some specific religious ideas Milton held that were out of the mainstream of most people in his day? How did they influence his notion of himself as a poet?

1.3.1 The Concept of a Meaningful Universe   - Web Media: The Saylor Foundation: University of California Santa Barbara English Department Knowledge Base Wiki’s “A Diagram of Milton’s Universe” Link: The Saylor Foundation: University of California Santa Barbara English Department Knowledge Base Wiki’s “A Diagram of Milton’s Universe (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[HTML](http://wiki.english.ucsb.edu/index.php/A_Diagram_of_Milton%27s_Universe)  
    
 Instructions: Milton conceived of the universe as an extremely
ordered entity. See this visual to get a sense for his vision.  

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/). It
is attributed to the University of California, Santa Barbara English
Department, and the original version can be found
[here](http://wiki.english.ucsb.edu/index.php/A_Diagram_of_Milton%27s_Universe).

1.3.2 Thoughts on Free Will and Providence   - Reading: The Norton Anthology of English Literature: John Carey’s “John Milton’s Christian Doctrine” Link: The Norton Anthology of English Literature: John Carey’s “John Milton’s Christian Doctrine” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the paragraph-long “Note 1” under the heading “John Milton, from Christian Doctrine.”

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.3 Milton’s Politics: Support for the Commonwealth   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton’s Ideal Republic” Link: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton’s Ideal Republic” (PDF)

 Also available in:   

[HTML](http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=272&chapter=41706&layout=html&Itemid=27)  
    
 Instructions: Read this file. If you are using the HTML version,
once you click on the link above, read the section under the
heading: “D. Milton’s Ideal Republic”  

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 10
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain. 
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth Link: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth” (PDF)

    Also available in: 

    HTML
     
    Instructions: Read the first few paragraphs of the linked file.
     
    Note on the text: Milton argues that the monarchy should be replaced by a free commonwealth, a position that he stalwartly defended throughout his life.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain. 

1.3.4 Human Virtue and Milton’s View of the Hereafter: Election and Salvation   - Reading: Darkness Visible: David Parry’s “Milton’s Own Beliefs” Link: Darkness Visible: David Parry’s “Milton’s Own Beliefs” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage above for a glimpse into Milton’s religious beliefs. Pay particular attention to the ways in which he conceives of election and salvation.
 
Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5 minute.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above. 

  • Reading: UC Santa Barbara English Department Knowledge Base Wiki’s “Milton’s Theology” Link: UC Santa Barbara English Department Knowledge Base Wiki’s “Milton’s Theology” (PDF)

    Also available in:
    HTML
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage above for a glimpse into Milton’s beliefs. Pay particular attention to the ways in which he conceives of election and salvation.
     
    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5 minute.
     
    Terms of Use: “Milton's Theology” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License License. It is attributed to the UC Santa Barbara English Department, and the original version can be found here.

1.3.5 Milton’s Puritanism Versus His Heterodoxy   - Reading: Darkness Visible: David Parry’s “Milton’s Puritanism” Link: Darkness Visible: David Parry’s “Milton’s Puritanism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage above, paying careful attention to Milton’s Puritanical views.

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.6 Milton’s View of His Role as a Poet   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton and the Role of the Poet” Link: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton and the Role of the Poet (PDF)

 Instructions: Read the paragraph linked above.  

 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
It is attributed to The Saylor Foundation. 

1.4 Crossing Genres   Guiding Questions:

  • How does Comus work as part of the genre of the Masque?
     
  • How does Comus work as an Allegory?
     
  • Analyze the theme of chastity in Comus.
     
  • What are some of Milton’s best arguments against Censorship in Areopagitica?
     
  • Analyze the theme of truth in Areopagitica.
     
  • In what sense can Areopagitica be seen to have Puritan influences?
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: The Cambridge History of English and American Literature: “Vol. VII: Cavalier and Puritan - Milton’s Literary Form” Link: The Saylor Foundation: The Cambridge History of English and American Literature: “Vol. VII: Cavalier and Puritan - Milton’s Literary Form” (PDF)

    Also available in: 
    HTML
     
    Instructions: Read this above resource for a sense of Milton’s literary style and formal choices. You may find the prose a bit archaic and even difficult to read as it was originally published in the early 1900s, but the content remains pertinent: it provides a useful albeit somewhat critical overview of Milton’s style and form.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain. 

1.4.1 Milton the Lyrical Poet: Forms and Legacies   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton the Lyrical Poet” Link: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton the Lyrical Poet (PDF)

 Instructions: Read this page linked above.  
    
 Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
It is attributed to The Saylor Foundation.

1.4.2 Milton as Dramatist: The Masque   - Lecture: YouTube: Professor John Rogers’ Lecture #4, “Poetry and Virginity” Link: YouTube: Professor John Rogers’ Lecture #4, “Poetry and Virginity” (YouTube)

 Also available in:   
 [HTML, MP3,
Quicktime](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-220/lecture-4).  
    
 Instructions: Watch the lecture.  

 Watching this lecture and taking notes will take approximately 1
hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: This video is released under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/). The
video is reposted from Yale Open Courseware and attributed to John
Rogers. The original version can be
found [here](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-220#sessions). 
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “Comus” Link: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “Comus” (PDF)

    Also available in:

    HTML; eText format on the Kindle (Available for Free); eText format in Google Books (Available for Free)

    Instructions: Read “Comus”. You will likely find the notes beneath the text useful in guiding your reading - use according to your own needs.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: The resources above are from the Dartmouth John Milton Reading Room and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License. The original versions can be found here. The text by John Milton is in the public domain. 

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: Felix Schelling’s Elizabethan Drama, 1558 - 1642: “XV: The English Masque” Link: The Saylor Foundation: Felix Schelling’s Elizabethan Drama, 1558 - 1642: “XV: The English Masque” (PDF)

    Also available in: 
    HTML
     
    Instructions: Milton experimented with the masque form. In order to gain a better understanding of this dramatic tradition, read the first two paragraphs of Felix Schelling’s Elizabethan Drama, 1558 - 1642: “XV: The English Masque” (ends with “…congeners that accompanied it.”)

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain. 

1.4.3 Milton, Epic Poet: Paradise Lost and *Paradise Regained*   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Milton, Epic Poet”  Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Milton, Epic Poet (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read this linked paragraph for a sense of Milton’s vision of himself as an epic poet.
 
Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5 minutes.

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
It is attributed to The Saylor Foundation.

1.4.4 Milton and Rhetoric: Polemical Prose   - Lecture: YouTube: Professor John Rogers’ Lecture #8, “Areopagitica” Link: YouTube: Professor John Rogers’ Lecture #8, “Areopagitica” (YouTube)

 Also available in:  
 [QuickTime](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-220/lecture-8)  
    
 Instructions: Watch the lecture.  

 Watching this lecture and taking notes will take approximately 1
hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: This video is released under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/).  The
video is reposted from Yale Open Courseware and attributed to John
Rogers. The original version can be
found [here](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-220#sessions). 
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton and Rhetoric” Link: The Saylor Foundation: “Milton and Rhetoric” (PDF)

    Instructions: Read this linked paragraph to learn about Milton’s polemical prose.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 5 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. It is attributed to The Saylor Foundation.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “Areopagitica Link: The Saylor Foundation: Milton’s “Areopagitica” (PDF)

    Also available in: 

    HTML

    Instructions: Read the first couple of paragraphs of Milton’s polemical work on censorship and the freedom of the press to get a sense for his tone and style of argumentation. You will likely find the Dartmouth Reading Room’s notes (see below the text) useful as you read.

    Note on the text: In Areopagitica, a good example of Milton’s sharp rhetorical prose, Milton denounces restrictive censorship, arguing for freedom of the press.

    Reading this text and taking notes will take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: The resource above is from the Dartmouth John Milton Reading Room and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License. The original version can be found here.  The text by John Milton is in the public domain.