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English 9024B
Paradise Lost: the Poem and the Critics

Professor John Leonard
Winter Half Course.

This course emerges from a project on which I have been actively engaged for the past fourteen years and which is about to published as a two-volume book (819 pages) by Oxford University Press: a reception history of Paradise Lost. The present course expands the field of inquiry to include all the major (and some minor) English poems, in addition to historically important editors and critics (all of whom are available in the Stuart Milton Collection in the D. B. Weldon Library).  Major critics examined will include: Patrick Hume (1695), John Dennis (1704), Joseph Addison (1712), Richard Bentley (1732), Zachary Pearce (1733), Jonathan Richardson (1734), Thomas Newton (1749), Samuel Johnson (both the Rambler (1751) and Lives of the Poets (1779)), Henry John Todd (1801), Mary Wollstonecraft (1789 and 1792),Thomas Keightley (1859), Walter Bagehot (1859), Sir Walter Raleigh (1900), F. R. Leavis (1936), T. S. Eliot (1935 and 1947), C. S. Lewis (1942), William Empson (1935 and 1961), Christopher Ricks (1963), as well as more recent commentators.  A heavy emphasis will be placed upon questions of style (including, and especially, Milton’s development of the grand style), though time will also be made for discussion of interpretative issues concerning gender, politics, heresy, innocence, theodicy, and the perennial difficulty of temptation and its allures. 

View the course syllabus here: English 9024B.


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