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Milton: Satan as Self

John Milton’s work was hugely influential in his own time, but “his own time” includes the seventeenth-century of civil unrest and war AND the turn towards eighteenth century enlightened reasoning. Moreover, the romantic poets make a claim as “true” followers, seizing on the ways Milton’s poetry, and particularly his Satan character in Paradise Lost, follow romantic ideals of describing spontaneous emotion.

This class will take all three of these versions of Milton— the Civil War/Interregnum Milton, the Enlightenment Milton and the Romantic Milton— to think about the ways his works define a sense of self. To do so, the course will be closely reading Paradise Lost throughout and putting it in conversation with some of Milton’s other works to consider the construction of the self in the poems, treatises, and particularly the depictions of Satan. To see the variations, we’ll be reading critical analyses that place Milton’s work in the context of each of these three time periods as well as contemporary responses.