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The seventeenth century was a time of revolution and upheaval, of excesses both puritanical and cavalier. It saw the execution of one kind and the restoration of another, and survived the English Civil War and the Great Fire and Great Plague of London. This course explores the literature of this century through the lens of John Milton’s major works (selected sonnets, Comus, Areopagitica, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes), and his contemporaries. We will concentrate on a number of issues that governed writing in the period, particularly the tension between individual interiority and historical, social, and political activity.