First published more than 350 years ago, Paradise Lost retells the biblical story of Adam and Eve in English heroic verse, imitating classical models of epic poetry. Milton’s poem, along with its arguments regarding free will, tyranny, and slavery, informed modern conceptions of civil liberty, republican government, and free speech. In the United States, men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams credit Milton’s poem as having shaped their ideas of religious and civil liberty in a democratic republic.
In this DartmouthX course, learners will use the Milton Reading Room’s online resources and links to contribute to an ever-growing body of scholarship. Originally developed in 1997 by Dartmouth's Professor Thomas Luxon and his students, The John Milton Reading Room is an online scholarly edition of all of Milton’s poetry in English, Latin, and Italian, and selected prose works in English.
The annotations and glosses to Paradise Lost in the Reading Room not only help readers make their way through a notoriously difficult poem, they also provide links to the classical, biblical, religious, and historical works to which the poem so frequently refers. This makes informed engagement with Milton’s epic poem more possible than it ever has been.
The course engages with Milton’s ideas through the following eight modules:
- What is an epic poem? What is an epic hero?
- Milton’s Epic Verse
- How is Milton’s Satan heroic? And not?
- Milton’s God
- Marriage—The New Heroic Subject?
- The Bible Story and Milton’s Story
- Political Ideology in Paradise Lost: What are the Origins of Tyranny and Slavery?
- Genres in Paradise Lost
Thomas H. Luxon, Michael Goudzwaard, Dan Maxell Crosby, Laura Braunstein and Wendel Cox