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Milton

ENGL 038.001
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The seventeenth century was a period of upheaval in England, beginning with the death of Queen Elizabeth and the accession of a Scottish king to the English throne, and including a massive religious war on the Continent; civil war in England; the execution of the king and the institution of republican government; radical religious experimentation; transformations in sexual, gender, and familial politics; mass panic and a government witch-hunt over alleged Catholic subversion; and a second revolution that produced another “foreign” English king. We will survey this remarkably exciting period of English literary history, including work by John Donne, Ben Jonson, Aemilia Lanyer, George Herbert, Robert Herrick, Andrew Marvell, and others. Our readings will center on (surprise, surprise) an extended study of John Milton (1608-1674), beginning with some of his prose and early poetry before moving on to Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. Our focus throughout will be on the relation of this literature to the questions of national, religious, political, and patriarchal sovereignty that dominated the era. Requirements will likely include a midterm and a final exam, and two short papers.