CRRS

13th International Milton Symposium: Online Program

13th International Milton Symposium

University of Toronto | 10-14 July 2023

Online Program

Conference attendees may pick up their badges, conference folders, and unique wifi access codes at the registration and information desk in Victoria College (VC), 73 Queen’s Park Crescent East, which will be open every day from 9 am to 4 pm.

Program Update:
IMS14 Planning Meeting will take place in VC115 to accommodate colleagues joining via Zoom.
Panel 11.2, “New Perspectives” – Daniel Vitkus has withdrawn from the conference.
Panel 11.6, “Global Milton” – This panel has been cancelled.
Panel 12.5, “Aftertimes” – Elizabeth Sauer will now chair this panel.

Click here for a searchable PDF of the conference program.

9:00 – 11:00

Coffee and Pastries

Registration

Victoria College (VC)

11:15 – 11:30

Opening Remarks

Ethan Matt Kavaler, Director, Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies and Professor of Art History, University of Toronto

John Rogers, Professor of English and Canada Research Chair in Early Modern Literature and Culture, University of Toronto

Isabel Bader Theatre (BT)

11:30 – 12:45

PLENARY LECTURE

Nicholas McDowell, University of Exeter
“Of True Virtue Void”: The Virtue Politics of John Milton

Chair: Nigel Smith, Princeton University

Isabel Bader Theatre

12:45 – 1:45

Lunch

Victoria College

1:45 – 3:15

Panel Session 1

Chair: Tom Bishop, University of Auckland
Location: VC 215

Paul Stevens
University of Toronto
Milton’s Hamlet: The Tragedy of Adam Unparadized
W. Gardner Campbell
Virginia Commonwealth University
“To whom the Tempter Guilefully Replied”: Othello, Echoes, and Doubt in Paradise Lost 9
Seth Lobis
Claremont McKenna College
Shakespeare, Milton, and the “Manly Tune”

Chair: Margaret Kean, Oxford University
Location: VC 115

Sim Ong
University of Toronto
“Dream not of other worlds”: Beholding and Possessing Worlds in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained
Lara Dodds
Mississippi State University
Increase, But Don’t Eat: Divine Commands as Worldbuilding in Paradise Lost
Chris Koenig-Woodyard
University of Toronto
Paradise Lost, Frankenstein, and Gothic Blots

Chair: Richard Strier, University of Chicago
Location: VC 101

Fernando Martinez-Periset
Stanford University
Milton and Senecan Stoicism
James Nohrnberg
University of Virginia
Angelic Doctors: Satan and Abdiel as Rival Theologians in Paradise Lost
Russ Leo
Princeton University
Milton, Spinoza, and the Challenge of the Quakers

Chair: Tobias Gregory, Catholic University of America
Location: VC 212

Sydnee Brown
University of Iowa
Paradise Regained and the “Peaceful” Empire of Glory
Olivia Leonard
Arizona State University
Natural and Unnatural Slavery in Samson Agonistes: Milton’s Construction of an English Subject
Nathan Nikolic
Graduate Center, City University of New York
Grinding at the Mill: The Specter of Atlantic Slavery in Milton’s Samson Agonistes

Chair: Lynne Magnusson, University of Toronto
Location: VC 206

Jean David Eynard
Pembroke College, University of Cambridge
Parrhesia Redux: The Musical Rhetoric of Free Speech in Milton’s Polemical Tracts
Brandon Taylor University of TorontoMilton, Incorporated: The New Model Army and the Revolutionary Energy of Early Modern Corporations.
Benjamin Woodford
Thompson Rivers University
Liberty as Public Policy: Milton’s Writings as a Civil Servant

3:15 – 3:30

Coffee Break

Victoria College

3:30 – 5:00

Panel Session 2

Chair: Pasquale Toscano, Princeton University
Location: VC 101

Speakers
Maura Brady, Le Moyne College
Amrita Dhar, Ohio State University
Angelica Duran, Purdue University
Teri Fickling, University of Texas, Austin
Lynne Greenberg, Hunter College, City University of New York
Andrew McKendry, Nord University

Chair: Rachel Trubowitz, University of New Hampshire
Location: VC 215

Patrick McGrath
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
“A Nice and Subtle Happiness”: Finding Fault with Paradise
Samuel Fallon
State University of New York, Geneseo
Another Eve: Milton, Cavell, and the Problem of Plurality
Stephen Dobranski
Georgia State University
The Case of Missing Persons in Paradise Lost

Chair: John Leonard, University of Western Ontario
Location: VC 115

John Hale
Otago University
Norms of Appreciation for Milton’s Latin Verse
Eric Brown
University of Maine, Farmington
Rereading Milton’s Acrostics
Lynne Magnusson
University of Toronto
The Agility of Small Words in Milton’s English: The Literary Affordances of Prepositions

Chair: David Ainsworth, University of Alabama
Location: VC 206

Aidan Selmer
Rutgers University
“Through a Glass, Darkly”: Milton’s Poetics of Mystery
David Adkins
Northwest Nazarene University
Christ’s Descent to the Dead in Paradise Lost and De Doctrina Christiana
Björn Quiring
Trinity College, Dublin
The Ecstasy of Eternal Administration: The Conflation of Divine Judgment and Eternal Bliss in Paradise Lost and De Doctrina Christiana

Chair: Nicholas von Maltzahn, University of Ottawa
Location: VC 212

Christopher Warren
Carnegie Mellon University
Whig Data: Milton’s Printers in the Restoration
Jonathan Koch
Pepperdine University
“For the Benefit of English Readers”: Collecting Milton’s Prose (1698)
Mathieu Bouchard
McGill University
Mary Wellington and the Publication of Paradise Lost in 1719

Chair: Marissa Greenberg, University of New Mexico
Location: VC 211

E Mariah Spencer
Illinois State University
John Milton and Margaret Cavendish Compared: Two Divergent Views on Education
Jeffrey Gore
University of Illinois at Chicago
Milton in the Commons: Libraries, Literacy, and the Political Nation in the Likeliest Means
Amy Stackhouse
Iona University
Milton’s Aristotelian “Character Education”

5:00 – 7:00

Opening Reception

Charbonnel Lounge, St. Michael’s College

8:30 – 9:30

Coffee and Pastries

Victoria College

9:30 – 11:00

Panel Session 3

Chair: Stanley Fish, Florida International University
Location: VC 112

Susanne Woods
University of Miami
“Then Let Us Have Our Libertie Againe”: Freedom and Liberty in Lanyer and Milton
Laura Knoppers
University of Notre Dame
“Force upon free will hath here no place”: Miltonic Freedom in Peter Weir’s The Truman Show
Margaret Kean, Oxford UniversityBehold a Wonder! Reviving the Mock Heroic

Chair: Elizabeth Sauer, Brock University
Location: VC 215

Reginald A. Wilburn
Texas Christian University
Passing for White with Milton in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars
Kina Amagai
Nihon University
Miltonic Inversions in Toni Morrison’s Sula
Brooke Conti
Cleveland State University
Milton’s Angels in Kushner’s America

Chair: Liza Blake, University of Toronto
Location: VC 115

Henry Carges
Rutgers University
Speaking Through a “Sin-worn mould”: Representing Embodied Chastity in John Milton’s A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle and Margaret Cavendish’s Assaulted and Pursued Chastity
Owen Kane
Queen’s University
Imagining Arctic Worlds in Milton and Cavendish
Mattea Scheiber Koon
Stanford University
Against Analogy: Suppressing Similitude in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Cavendish’s Blazing World

Chair: Alison Searle, University of Leeds
Location: VC 101

Jennifer Lewin
University of Haifa
Dreaming, Nostalgia, and Affect in Milton’s Epics
Ben Faber
Redeemer University
“Outrage from lifeless things”: Theodicy and the Anthropogenic Effects of the Fall in Paradise Lost
Andrew Brown
Dalhousie University
Another Flood of Tears: Climate Feelings and Paradise Lost

Chair: Yulia Ryzhik, University of Toronto
Location: VC 212

Carla Baricz
Yale University
Ion Budai-Deleanu’s Gypsiad: Rewriting Paradise Lost as Mock Epic
Amina Gabrielova
Purdue University
Miltonic Motifs by Russians Lermontov and Vrubel
Miklós Péti
Károli Gáspár University, Budapest
North by Northeast: Hungarian versions of Milton’s Brief History of Moscovia in the Communist Era and the Present Day

Sponsored by the Department of Italian Studies, University of Toronto St. George

Chair: Laura Ingallinella, University of Toronto
Location: VC 206

Giulio Pertile
University of St Andrews
Milton and Seventeenth-Century Italian Poetry
Francisco Nahoe
Zaytuna College
Reforming Petrarch: Milton’s Italian Verse
Thomas E. Mussio
Iona University
“Ingrates” and Ingratitude in Paradise Lost and G.B. Marino’s Adone

11:00 – 11:30

Coffee Break

Isabel Bader Theatre

11:30 – 12:45

PLENARY LECTURE

Feisal Mohamed, Yale University
Lycidas and the Maritime Policy of Charles I 

Chair: Mary Nyquist, University of Toronto 

Isabel Bader Theatre
93 Charles St. W.

12:45 – 1:45

Lunch

Victoria College

1:45 – 3:15

Panel Session 4

Chair: Richard Strier, University of Chicago
Location: VC 213

Speakers
Russ Leo, Princeton University
Catherine Gimelli Martin, University of Memphis
Björn Quiring, Trinity College, Dublin
Nigel Smith, Princeton University
Joseph Wittreich, Graduate Center, City University of New
York

Chair: Jeffrey Shoulson, Bandeis University
Location: VC 215

Noam Reisner
Tel Aviv University
Rethinking Milton’s Pauline-Hebraic God
Antoinina Bevan Zlatar
University of Zurich
Picturing the Son of God in Paradise Lost
Heather James
University of Southern California
Milton’s God and the Problem of Personification

Chair: Sara van den Berg, Saint Louis University
Location: VC 115

Jeff Rohner-Tensee
York University
Escaping Eden: Milton’s Demonstration of Critical Disability Theory in Paradise Lost
Amrita Dhar
Ohio State University
The Collaborative, Participatory, Amanuensistic Authorship of Milton’s Blind Poetic Language

Chair: Wendy Furman-Adams, Whittier College
Location: VC 211

Shaun Ross
University of Toronto
“Where Strength Can Least Abide”: Hair and Disenchantment in Milton’s Imagination
Brayden Tate
University of Alberta
Desiring Apocalypse, Desiring Revolution: The Veil in Paradise Lost

Chair: Christopher Warren, Carnegie Mellon University
Location: VC 101

Matthew Turnbull
Baylor University
Augustinian Semiosis in Satan’s Soliloquies
John Ladd
Washington & Jefferson College
Milton’s Uncertain Data

Chair: Laura Knoppers, University of Notre Dame
Location: VC 206

Philip Goldfarb Styrt
St. Ambrose University
Milton’s Combative Virtue: The Lady in A Maske
Tess Grogan
Yale University
Literary Errancy in Paradise Regained
Annabel Barry
University of California, Berkeley
“Eden raised in the waste wilderness”: The Temptation of Art in Paradise Regained

Chair: Karen Weisman, University of Toronto
Location: VC 212

Irene Montori, University of Naples, Federico IIParadise Lost in Italy: Vincenzo Monti Rewriting Milton’s Creation Narrative
Gui Nabais Freitas Trinity College, University of CambridgePortuguese Milton and his Enlightenment Paratexts: Jose Amaro da Silva’s Paraiso Perdido (1789) and Obras da Milton
Leonard Stein
Ben-Gurion University
Rewriting that Peculiar Nation: Comparative Theology in the First Hebrew Translations of Paradise Lost

3:15 – 3:30

Coffee Break

Victoria College

3:30 – 5:00

Panel Session 5

Chair: Stephen Dobranski, Georgia State University
Location: VC 112

Speakers
Tianhu Hao, Zhejiang University
Edward Jones, Oklahoma State University
Laura Knoppers, University of Notre Dame
Elizabeth Sauer, Brock University

Chair: Anthony Welch, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Location: VC 215

Phillip J. Donnelly
Baylor University
Milton and Ficino: Rethinking Number in Paradise Lost
Stephen Guy-Bray
University of British Columbia
Milton’s Transitions
Caitlin Hubbard
Yale University
“Show it in a play”: How Milton’s Theatricality Inspired the Bold Empiricism of Dryden’s The State of Innocence

Chair: Amrita Dhar, Ohio State University
Location: VC 115

Tessie Prakas
Scripps College
“Heard or learnt”: Milton’s Amateur Listeners
Samuel Bozoukov
Harvard University
The Temptations of Milton’s Lady and Eve: Listening as Poetic Activity
John Leonard
University of Western Ontario
Reading Paradise Lost aloud

Chair: Stephen M. Buhler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Location: VC 101

Avery Slater
University of Toronto
“Into our room of / Creatures”: Erasing Milton
Unjoo Oh
Stanford University
Posthuman, Material Informatics in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Christian Bök’s The Xenotext Experiment
Wendy Furman-Adams
Whittier College
“The Fruit of that Forbidden Tree”: Contemporary Artists Reading Genesis and Paradise Lost

Chair: Feisal Mohamed, Yale University
Location: VC 212

Noel Capozzalo
Graduate Center, City University of New York
Reason of State and the Uses of Glory in Paradise Lost
Ben LaBreche
University of Mary Washington
Between Law and Nature: The Similes of Paradise Regained

Chair: Brooke Conti, Cleveland State University
Location: VC 206

Evan LaBuzetta
Independent Scholar
Milton’s Stupidities
Brendan Prawdzik
Pennsylvania State University
Race and the British Head, 1641-44
David Currell
American University of Beirut
Salmasius’ Cock: Gendered Insult in the Defensiones

Chair: Timothy Raylor, Carleton College
Location: VC 211

Tomos Evans
University of Birmingham
New Contexts for Milton’s Letters to Lucas Holstenius and Leonard Philaras
Robert Dulgarian
Emerson College
Why “Lycidas”? The Poem and the Cambridge Curriculum
Yaacov Brontein, Rutgers University“The Common Gloss”: Multilingual Biblical Reading in Paradise Lost

5:30 – 7:00

Grad Student Pub Social
First drink free for graduate
student registrants.

Duke of York
39 Prince Arthur Ave

8:30 – 9:30

Coffee and Pastries

Victoria College

9:30 – 11:00

Panel Session 6

Chair: Joshua Held, Trinity International University
Location: VC 112

Speakers:
Urvashi Chakravarty, University of Toronto
Angelica Duran, Purdue University
Islam Issa, Birmingham City University
Mary Nyquist, University of Toronto
Joshua Scodel, University of Chicago
Reginald A. Wilburn, Texas Christian University

Chair: Nigel Smith, Princeton University
Location: VC 215

Timothy Raylor
Carleton College
Of Education: Thoughts on Genre and Occasion
Jameela Lares
University of Southern Mississippi
Updates on Milton’s Logica
Linda Mitchell
San José State University
John Milton’s Accedence Commenc’t Grammar (1669): Six Pesky Unanswered Questions

Chair: Russ Leo, Princeton University
Location: VC 115

Ethan Guagliardo
University of British Columbia
Milton and the Temporality of Freedom
Travis DeCook
Carleton University
Milton, Hobbes, and the Denial of the Nunc Stans
Manuel Cárdenas
McGill University
Milton, Abundance, and the Zero-Sum Game

Chair:  Chris Koenig-Woodyard, University of Toronto
Location: VC 101

Jason Peters
Booth University College
Milton against Milton, or, Jane Eyre and the Methodist Reception of Paradise Lost
Mollie Bowman
Pennsylvania State University
Dismantling the Iconic Milton: George Eliot’s Middlemarch as a Parable of Miltonic Reception
Andrew Mattison
University of Toledo
The Last Reward: Mark Pattison’s Milton

Chair: Lara Dodds, Mississippi State University
Location: VC 212

Shaurya Oberoi
Rutgers University
Blind Epistemologies: Paradise Lost, Vision, and Seventeenth-Century Experimental Science
Gi Taek Ryoo
Chungbuk National University
The Circle In & Out: The Astro/Cosmological Visions of John Donne and John Milton
J. Antonio Templanza
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Prophetic (Eye) Strain: Paradise Lost 11-12 and the Hebrew Bible

Chair: Jason Kerr, Brigham Young University
Location: VC 206

Amber Bird
University of Alabama
“Who this is:” Incarnational Poetics in Milton’s Paradise Regained
George Ramos
University of Western Ontario
Taking Paradise Regained Seriously: The Apocalypse, Eternal Recurrence, and the Sufficiency of Imperfect Glorification in Milton’s Epics
David V. Urban
Calvin University
Postulating Orthodoxy in Paradise Regained: The Significance of the Son’s “I am” Statements and His Increasing Identification with the Father

11:00 – 11:30

Coffee Break

Isabel Bader Theatre

11:30 – 12:45

PLENARY LECTURE

Lorna Hutson, University of Oxford
Neptune’s Sway: Bodies and Boundaries in the “Island Nation” Fiction, 1550–1700

Chair: Victoria Kahn, University of California, Berkeley

Isabel Bader Theatre

12:45 – 1:45

Lunch

Victoria College

12:45 – 1:45

IMS-sponsored Undergraduate Panel

Organized by Shaun Ross, Victoria College

Featuring ten-minute papers given by exceptional students from the University of Toronto and institutions around North America. Lunch will be served.

Chair: Eric Song, Swarthmore College
Location: Victoria University Common Room, Burwash Hall

Tanmaya Ramprasad, University of TorontoThe Colonial Satan
Anastasia Zaritovskaya, University of TorontoThe Fantasy of Adamic Colonization
Sam Mills, University of MaineHighbrow and Lowbrow Allusions in Paradise Lost
Aisha Humaira, Rutgers UniversityFree Will and Narrative in Paradise Lost

1:45 – 3:45

Panel Session 7

Chair: John Rogers, University of Toronto
Location: VC 213

Cassie Gorman
Anglia Ruskin University
“Hurled headlong” or “headlong hurl’d”: John Milton, Henry More, and a Shared Cosmological Poetics
Stephen Fallon
University of Notre Dame
Milton and Monism, Again
Deseree Cipollone
McGill University
Satanic Atomism: The Politics of Atomism in Paradise Lost
Dennis Kezar
Independent Scholar
Reification and its Discontents

Chair: Lynne Greenberg, Hunter College, City University of New York
Location: VC 215

Christina Wiendels
McMaster University
“To respite his day-labour with repast, / Or with repose”: Mental Illness and Passive Agency in Paradise Lost
Maura Brady
Le Moyne College
Folly and Disability in Samson Agonistes
Pasquale Toscano
Princeton University
“Let Be Assigned Some Narrow Place Enclosed”: Access, Ableism, and Accommodation in Samson Agonistes

Chair: David Quint, Yale University
Location: VC 115

Ivana Bičak
Durham University
Hunc Infera Monstra Flagellant: Nature and Monstrosity in the Epic Poetry of Milton and Lucan
James Ross Macdonald
University of the South
Milton’s Dolon Revisited
Joseph Ortiz
University of Texas, El Paso
Milton’s Georgic: Inventing the Past in Paradise Lost
Catherine Gimelli Martin
University of Memphis
The Confessional Epic: Dante and Milton

Chair: Su Fang Ng, Virginia Tech
Location: VC 101

Tianhu Hao
Zhejiang University
Shakespeare’s and Milton’s Impact on Chinese Literature and Culture: A Preliminary Comparison
Hae Yeon Kim
Sunchon National University
Korean Nonchurch Movement and John Milton
Yulia Ryzhik & Taro Ishiguro
University of Toronto
&
Meiji University
Milton in Japan: Paradise Lost in Translation

Chair: Andrea Walkden, University of Toronto
Location: VC 212

Jason Kerr
Brigham Young University
Reconsidering Consent: The Cases of Baxter and Milton
Katie Calloway
Baylor University
Natural Theology, Consent, and Care in Baxter and Milton
Andrew McKendry
Nord University
Milton and the Modern Critique of Merit
Alison Searle
University of Leeds
Innocence and Excremental Whiteness: John Milton, James Baldwin, and Reading with Care

Chair: David Loewenstein, Pennsylvania State University
Location: VC 206

Ali McTar
Muhlenberg College
Fallen Father: John Milton, Antinomianism, and the Case Against Adam
Ben Card
Yale University
Cataloging Milton
Tobias Gregory
Catholic University of America
Milton’s Ecclesiology: Continuity and Change
Elizabeth Sauer
Brock University
Restoration Schismatics: Milton, Marvell, and the Legacy of John Hales

Chair: Stephen Guy-Bray, University of British Columbia
Location: VC 211

Theo Northcraft
University of Toronto
Rhetoric that Doesn’t Matter: Persuasion and Trans Satan in Paradise Lost
John Staines
John Jay College, City University of New York
Milton’s Raptures and the Queer Sublime
David Ainsworth
University of Alabama
Milton’s Queer Spirit

2:30 – 4:30

Exhibition and Discussion of Rare Books

Curated by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto

Explore Canada’s largest rare book library with a specially curated interactive exhibit that includes early printed editions of Milton’s works; early modern manuscripts from across the globe; annotated copies, translations, and adaptations of Milton’s works from the 17th century to the present; and rare book selections by some of the symposium’s plenary speakers.

Drop in any time during this two-hour window.

Maclean Hunter Room, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, 120 St. George St

3:45 – 4:00

Coffee Break

Victoria College

4:00 – 5:30

Panel Session 8

Sponsored by the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Toronto

Chair: Rachel Trubowitz, University of New Hampshire
Location: VC 112

Speakers
Sharon Achinstein, Johns Hopkins University
Stanley Fish, Florida International University
Marissa Greenberg, University of New Mexico
Achsah Guibbory, Barnard College
Peter Herman, San Diego State University
David Loewenstein, Pennsylvania State University
Jason Rosenblatt, Georgetown University
Jeffrey Shoulson, Brandeis University
Paul Stevens, University of Toronto

Chair: Lorna Hutson, University of Oxford
Location: VC 215

Sebastian Sobecki
University of Toronto
The Invention of Colonialism: Richard Hakluyt’s Discourse Concerning Western Planting and the 15th-Century Libelle of Englyshe Polycye
Callum Bowler
Durham University
“Of What Resounds in Fable or Romance”: How Milton Reads the Medieval
Mandy Green
Durham University
“Content with these British Islands as My World”: Milton’s Neo-Latin Poems for Charles Diodati and the Search for a “Fit Audience”

Chair: Ryan Netzley, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Location: VC 115

Danila Sokolov
University of Iceland, Reykjavik
Lyric Shipwrecks: Writing the Disaster in Lycidas and Seventeenth-Century Poetry
Gabriela Villanueva Noriega
National Autonomous University of Mexico
Milton’s Prophetic Ambiguities in Lycidas
Ann Baynes Coiro
Rutgers University
The Politics of Assembling: Milton, Herrick, Cavendish

Chair: Nicholas McDowell, University of Exeter
Location: VC 101

Lucas Simpson
University of Toronto
Hooker and Milton on the Sacred Constitution of Political Authority
David Lee Vaughan
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Reforming the Reformers: The Polemic of John Milton and the Sermons of Stephen Marshall in the 1640s
Thomas Vozar
University of Hamburg
In Persona Regis: Salmasius, Milton, and Hobbes on the Personification of the State

Chair: Joseph Ortiz, University of Texas, El Paso
Location: VC 212

Maggie Anne Miller
Georgia State University
“With Undiscording Voice”: Discord and Original Sin in Milton’s Poetic Imagination
Stephen M. Buhler
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Milton-ish Mediations: Fry, Penderecki, Hart, and Paradise Lost

Chair: Louis Schwartz, University of Richmond
Location: VC 206

Lynne Greenberg
Hunter College, City University of New York
“Me his Parent”: Sin, Allegory, and Seventeenth-Century Laws of Guardianship
Ágnes Bató
University of Szeged
O Father: The Kinship Metaphor and its Implications in Milton’s Paradise Lost
Eun Kyung Min
Seoul National University
Futurity and its Discontents: Abstinence, Anti-Natalism, and Intergenerational Ethics in Paradise Lost

Chair: Gregory Chaplin, Bridgewater State University
Location: VC 211

Matthew K. Dolloff
Universidad San Francisco de Quito
John Milton and Padre Diego de Hojeda: Two Versions of the Passion
Naomi Hariuchi
Aoyama Gakuin University
Paradise Lost Book 3: A Rereading of “My umpire conscience”
Claude N. Stulting, Jr.
Furman University
Resurrection Lost: Guilt, Death, and the Crucifixion in Paradise Lost

7:30
(Doors open at 7:00)

Harmonious Milton:
An Evening of Voice and Verse

To celebrate the occasion of IMS13, some of Toronto’s most gifted musicians and singers gather to perform music inspired by the poetry of Milton. Works include selections from Handel’s L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed Il Moderato, and his Samson; as well as pieces by John Milton, Sr. and Henry Lawes. The evening is capped by the performance of two recent 21st-century settings of Milton, by the Torontonian composers Robert Busiakiewicz and Stephanie Martin.

Music curated by Larry Beckwith; dramatic text scripted by Seth Herbst and performed by Attendant Spirit R. H. Thomson. Free of charge to conference attendees.

Church of the Redeemer, 162 Bloor St. W.

8:30 – 9:30

Coffee and Pastries

Victoria College

9:30 – 11:00

Panel Session 9

Chair: Catherine Gimelli Martin, University of Memphis
Location: VC 115

Joshua Scodel
University of Chicago
“Race,” “Nation,” Hospitality, and Servitude in Paradise Lost
Joshua Held
Trinity International University
Milton’s Pauline Universalism: Race, Gender, and Religion in Early Modern England
Warren Chernaik
University of London
Service and Servitude in Milton and Marvell

Chair: Daniel Vitkus, University of California, San Diego
Location: VC 215

Victor Hainagiu
University of Toronto
Metamorphosis, Renegados and the Ottoman Mediterranean in Paradise Lost
Elizabeth Hodgson
University of British Columbia
The Insidious Infidel: Milton’s Wives, Cromwell’s Voters
Islam Issa
Birmingham City University
Milton and the Principles of Jurisprudence: The Divorce Tracts and Islamic Family Law

Chairs: Jeffrey Gore, University of Illinois at Chicago & Tomos Evans, University of Birmingham
Location: VC 112

Speakers
David Currell
, American University of Beirut
Lara Dodds, Mississippi State University
Stephen Guy-Bray, University of British Columbia
Edward Jones, Oklahoma State University

Chair: Peter Herman, San Diego State University
Location: VC 101

Clay Greene
University of Florida
The Natural History of Man in the Prophetic Books of Paradise Lost
Francesca Gardner
University of Cambridge
Real or Allegoric?: Satanic and Divine Typologies in Paradise Regained
Jeffrey Alan Miller
Montclair State University
Milton’s Types and a Gravitational Theory of Keywords

Chair: Susanne Woods, University of Miami
Location: VC 212

Sylvester Cruz
Rutgers University
Milton and Vernacular Theology: The Creation of Eve in Paradise Lost and Order and Disorder
Jennifer Topale
University of Denver
Prophetic Women and Milton’s Narrator in Paradise Lost
Joan Curbet
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Versions of Female Prophecy in John Milton’s 1671 Poems

Chair:  Joseph Wittreich, Graduate Center, City University of New York
Location: VC 206

Dana Omirova
Rutgers University
Milton’s Dalilah and the Failure of Interracial Marriage
Hsing-hao Chao
National Taichung University of Education
The Medical Paradigm in Samson Agonistes: Galenic or Paracelsian?
Sean Benson
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
Terrorism, Stanley Fish, and Divine Command Ethics

11:00 – 11:30

Coffee Break

Isabel Bader Theatre

11:30 – 12:45

PLENARY LECTURE

Achsah Guibbory, Barnard College
From Milton’s Exceptionalism to America’s Nationalism: Milton’s Late Writings, The Conquest of Canaan (1785), and the Current Rise of Christian Nationalism

Chair: Rachel Trubowitz, University of New Hampshire

Isabel Bader Theatre

12:45 – 1:45

Lunch

Victoria College

12:45 – 1:45

IMS-sponsored Undergraduate Panel

Organized by Shaun Ross, Victoria College

Featuring ten-minute papers given by exceptional students from the University of Toronto and institutions around North America. Lunch will be served.

Chair: Katie Calloway, Baylor University
Location: Burwash Hall

Julia Hills, University of MaineEve, Interpreter of Dreams
Tyne Vainio, University of TorontoMilton and Gendered Temptation
Celine Hajj Sleiman, University of TorontoEve’s “sweet attractive grace”

1:45 – 3:15

Panel Session 10

Chair: Jeffrey Alan Miller, Monclair State University
Location: VC 215

Speakers

Carla Baricz, Yale University
Ivana Bičak, Durham University
John Ladd, Washington and Jefferson College
Su Fang Ng, Virginia Tech
George Ramos, Fanshawe College
Jeffrey Shoulson, Brandeis University

Chair: Sarah Van der Laan, Indiana University
Location: VC 206

James Dunnigan
University of Toronto
Milton’s Ovidian Syntheses: Paradise Lost VII and Metamorphoses I
Chika Kaneko
Nihon University
Cupido the Pseudo Protagonist in “Elegia Septima”: Deconstructing Ovid’s Metamorphoses
Alex Garganigo
Austin College
The Lucianic Parliament in Hell

Chair: Eric Brown, University of Maine, Farmington
Location: VC 212

Ann A. Huse
John Jay College, City University of New York
Plague Years and Patronage: Milton at Horton
Olin Bjork
University of Houston-Downtown
Milton, the Arundel Marbles, and “Of Statues & Antiquities”
Edward Jones
Oklahoma State University
Lifting the Veil on Milton’s Period of Seclusion in 1660

Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto Mississauga

Chair: Stephen Fallon, University of Notre Dame
Location: VC 115

Lianne Habinek
Université de Strasbourg
Holding the Mirror Up to Envy: Cognitive Theory and Paradise Lost
Ki-Won Hong
Yonsei University
Where Did Adam’s Obligation to Obey God Come from? Epistemological Approach to the Problem of Free Will and Reason in Milton
Ayelet Langer
University of Haifa
Identity over Time in Paradise Lost

Chair: Daniel Newman, University of Toronto
Location: VC 211

Aidan Wakely-Mulroney
Independent Scholar
Milton Pares His Fingernails: James Joyce and the Conclusion of Lycidas
Sarah Baber
University of Notre Dame
Lycidas as Joycean Ghost Story: Milton and Ulysses
Hyunyoung Cho
George Mason University, Korea
Milton and Lawrence: Milton in D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow

3:15 – 3:45

Coffee Break

Victoria College

3:45 – 5:00

PLENARY LECTURE

David Quint, Yale University
Epic and Exodus

Chair: Joshua Scodel, University of Chicago

Isabel Bader Theatre

8:30 – 9:30

Coffee and Pastries

Victoria College

9:30 – 11:00

Panel Session 11

Chair: Gordon Campbell, University of Leicester
Location: VC 112

Sharon Achinstein
Johns Hopkins University
Milton, Divorce, and the Crucible of 1644
Nicholas von Maltzahn
University of Ottawa
Ethos and Occasion in Milton’s Areopagitica (1644)
Nigel Smith
Princeton University
Lovers’ Discourse: The Long Reach of Milton’s Divorce Writings

Chair: Ann Baynes Coiro, Rutgers University
Location: VC 215

Anthony Welch
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Christopher Columbus and Milton’s Maritime Epic
Eric Song
Swarthmore College
Necessary Evil: Paradise Lost and the History of Bitumen

Chair: Heather James, University of Southern California
Location: VC 115

Sarah Van der Laan
Indiana University
“Not less but more heroic”: Eve and Epic Traditions of Female Heroism
Caroline Engelmayer
Harvard University
“Hast thou forgot me then”: Sin, Allegory, and Ovid’s Heroides in Milton’s Paradise Lost
Joel Faber
University of Toronto
Echoes of Friendship in Eden? Imagining the Potential for Women’s Friendship in Paradise Lost

Chair: Stephen Dobranski, Georgia State University
Location: VC 212

DongHwan (Alex) Chun
University of Notre Dame
Satan’s Pursuit of Joy: Degradation of the Degenerated in Paradise Lost
Monica Multer
University of California, Santa Cruz
Edenic Co-Motion: Communal Movements of Prelapsarian Passion in Paradise Lost
Zeyi Zhang
Baylor University
“Thou Thy Foes / Justly Hast in Derision”: Diving Mockery and Grace in Paradise Lost

Chair: Seth Lobis, Claremont McKenna College
Location: VC 206

Yanxiang Wu
Shanghai University
Milton’s Ploughman and Galileo
Nicholas George
Virginia Commonwealth University
Conversation As Reason in Paradise Lost
Caitlin Rankin-McCabe
Durham University
Out of the Silence … Milton’s Sociable Angel

11:00 – 11:30

Coffee Break

Isabel Bader Theatre

11:30 – 12:45

PLENARY LECTURE

Su Fang Ng, Virginia Tech
Milton and Imperial Cartography

Chair: Urvashi Chakravarty, University of Toronto

Sponsored by the Jackman Humanities Institute

Isabel Bader Theatre

12:45 – 1:45

Lunch

Victoria College

1:45 – 3:15

Panel Session 12

Chair: John Rumrich, University of Texas, Austin

Location: VC 101

Ryan Netzley
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Extemporaneity, Anarchy, and the Poetic State of Nature
Stanley Fish
Florida International University
Speech, Innocence, and Truth in Ustinov’s Billy Budd

Chair: Elizabeth Hodgson, University of British Columbia
Location: VC 215

Gregory Chaplin
Bridgewater State University
The Two Faces of Adam: Irreconcilable Differences in Milton’s Divorce Tracts
Zoë Burgard
Yale University
“Was She Thy God?”: Marital and Sexual Desire as Idolatry in Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes
Sara van den Berg
Saint Louis University
Seeds and Sparkles: Stoic Ideas in Milton’s First Divorce Tract

Chair: Jeanne Shami, University of Regina
Location: VC 115

Speakers
David Ainsworth, University of Alabama
W. Gardner Campbell, Virginia Commonwealth University
John Leonard, University of Western Ontario
Brent Nelson, University of Saskatchewan
Louis Schwartz, University of Richmond

Sponsored by the Department of Spanish & Portuguese, University of Toronto St. George

Chair: Matt Dolloff, Universidad San Francisco de Quito
Location: VC 212

Mario Murgia
National Autonomous University of Mexico
John Milton and the 19th-Century Mexican Epic
Miriam Mansur Andrade & Luiz Fernando Ferreira Sá
Federal University of Minas Gerais
An Early Intersemiotic translator of Milton in Brazil: Junqueira Freire
Luiz Fernando Ferreira Sá & Miriam Mansur Andrade
Federal University of Minas Gerais
An Early Intersemiotic translator of Milton in Brazil: Claudio Manuel da Costa
Angelica Duran
Purdue University
Milton’s Paradise Lost on the Modern Mexican Public Stage

Chair: Elizabeth Sauer, Brock University
Location: VC 211

Randy Robertson
Susquehanna University
Areopagitica from Milton’s Day to Mill’s
David Boocker
University of Nebraska, Omaha
Milton in American Periodicals: Abolition
Jeremy Larson
Regent University
Uncertain Milton, Uncertain Lewis

2:30 – 4:30

Exhibition and Discussion of Rare Books

Curated by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto

Explore Canada’s largest rare book library with a specially curated interactive exhibit that includes early printed editions of Milton’s works; early modern manuscripts from across the globe; annotated copies, translations, and adaptations of Milton’s works from the 17th century to the present; and rare book selections by some of the symposium’s plenary speakers.

Maclean Hunter Room, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, 120 St. George St

3:30 – 4:30

IMS14 Planning Meeting

Chair: Stephen Fallon, University of Notre Dame

Coffee will be served.

VC 115

5:00 – 6:30

Closing Reception
End of conference celebration!
Cash bar

Massey College, 4 Devonshire Place

6:30 -9:00

Closing Banquet
Advanced registration required

Massey College, 4 Devonshire Place

Harmonious Milton: An Evening of Voice and Verse

Plenary Speakers at a Glance


Nicholas McDowell, University of Exeter
“Of True Virtue Void”: The Virtue Politics of John Milton
Monday 11:30


Feisal Mohamed, Yale University
Lycidas and the Maritime Policy of Charles I
Tuesday 11:30


Lorna Hutson, University of Oxford
Neptune’s Sway: Bodies and Boundaries in the “Island Nation” Fiction, 1550-1700
Wednesday 11:30


Achsah Guibbory, Barnard College
From Milton’s Exceptionalism to America’s Nationalism: Milton’s Late Writings, The Conquest of Canaan (1785), and the Current Rise of Christian Nationalism
Thursday 11:30


David Quint, Yale University
Epic and Exodus
Thursday 3:45


Su Fang Ng, Virginia Tech
Milton and Imperial Cartography
Friday 11:30


All plenary lectures will be held in the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. W.

W. Gardner Campbell

“To whom the Tempter Guilefully Replied”: Othello, Echoes, and Doubt in Paradise Lost 9

James Holly Hanford and Alwin Thaler have argued for echoes of Othello in Paradise Lost, with Hanford going so far as to state that “the situation of Adam and Eve in relation to Satan is an essential repetition of that of Othello, Desdemona and Iago.” Interestingly, at a climactic moment in Book 9 we find not Adam, but Eve inhabiting the part of Othello. In the scene in which Iago begins to sow doubt in Othello’s mind about Desdemona’s faithfulness, the small yet toxic echo of a strangely supple adverb, “indeed,” is the catalyst for all that follows. That same word, heard and then repeated by the serpent as the foundation of his guileful reply to Eve, works in a similarly deceptive interrogative fashion as Iago’s utterance, and with a tragically similar result. This paper begins by exploring the surprisingly weighty and complex semantics of “indeed,” a word whose meanings stretch from epistemology to contempt. I will also discuss evidence from Claire Bourne’s and Jason Scott-Warren’s work on the copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio that is likely to have been Milton’s own, a copy that bears signs of what may be Milton’s special attention to this moment in Othello. I will then argue that Milton marks the psychological strategies of this “fraudulent temptation” with other echoes, including a line repeated nearly verbatim by the narrator. With these examples, the paper seeks to explore and understand more deeply Milton’s intricate portrayal of Satan’s echoing guile.

Seth Lobis

Shakespeare, Milton, and the “Manly Tune”

In book 11 of Paradise Lost, Michael shows Adam the first death on postlapsarian earth, Cain’s murder of Abel. Adam erringly assumes that he has now seen and now knows what it is to die. As horrifying as Adam finds this spectacle, Michael explains that it is but one of the “many shapes / Of Death” and proceeds to show him a “monstrous crew” of ills, pains, and diseases that lead to the untimely extinction of human life. At this point, Milton’s narrator intercedes: “Sight so deform what heart of Rock could long / Drie-ey’d behold? Adam could not, but wept, / Though not of Woman born; compassion quell’d / His best of man, and gave him up to tears / A space, till firmer thoughts restraind excess.” These lines recall Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in which the Witches prophesy that “none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth.” More compellingly, I suggest, they recall the scene at the end of Act 4 in which Macduff–not “of woman born” in a particular sense that escapes Macbeth until death is knocking at his gate–finds out that his wife and children have been murdered. Macduff’s pathos-laden exchange with Malcolm about the proper response to this tragedy-within-the-tragedy not only dramatizes the struggle between stoicism and sensibility but also deepens the play’s complex meditation on the form and shape of gender. I argue that Milton both recapitulates Shakespeare’s ambivalent staging and prescribes a moral anthropology to resolve it.

Paul Stevens

Milton’s Hamlet: The Tragedy of Adam Unparadized

Stretching back over half a century, both Milton’s poetry and prose are full of echoes and allusions to Shakespeare. Even in a text like his 1642 Apology for a Pamphlet where Milton wants to distance himself from the more unsavory aspects of the London theatre world, he imagines himself as Hamlet. He imagines his Polonius-like adversary, the Modest Confuter, crying out “from behind the Arras” to interrupt him in his debate with Bishop Hall, and so in his vehemence skewers him with a tart response (CPW 1: 914). Even by the 1640s Shakespeare’s fame was such that he was not just another poet or playwright. Over the course of Milton’s life, Shakespeare moved to the centre of English cultural life. Indeed, by the 1640s, according to Heidi Craig, “Shakespeare was the most-printed and most-reprinted dramatist of the preceding fifty years.” In court circles, Shakespeare’s growing celebrity is epitomized in Van Dyck’s 1638 portrait of Sir John Suckling reading Hamlet. Even during the Interregnum with the government’s intermittent disapproval of the theatre, Shakespeare benefited from the boom in the search for novel dramatic texts to publish. Milton’s publisher, Humphrey Moseley, led the way in pushing previously unpublished plays by Shakespeare (or ascribed to Shakespeare), while others took advantage of plays previously published but made newly fashionable by national events: Othello, for instance, was re-published to capitalize on England’s great naval victory over Moorish slavers at Tunis in 1655 and The Merchant of Venice on the negotiations for the re-admission of the Jews in 1656. After the Restoration, Milton’s former colleague, John Dryden, writing just before the first publication of Paradise Lost in 1667, caught the national mood: Shakespeare, he says, is “the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, [has] the largest and most comprehensive soul.” Just after the publication of the final version of Paradise Lost in 1674, Milton’s nephew, Edward Phillips, judged Shakespeare the “Glory of the English Stage,” especially in tragedy, no one having “express’t a more lofty and Tragic heighth.”

In his 1991 critique of “over-zealous” commentators on the relation between Milton and Shakespeare from Warton to myself and John Guillory, John Shawcross concedes that there may be as many as 63 allusions or references to Hamlet in Milton’s works. Milton’s close engagement with Hamlet is borne out in his detailed corrections to the play in the Philadelphia Free Library’s copy of Shakespeare’s first folio. One of the most important of Milton’s allusions to Hamlet occurs in Paradise Lost, Book X, as Milton changes his poem’s notes to “tragic” and the newly fallen Adam laments his impossible condition. In this paper, with this allusion as my start-point, I want to examine the degree to which Shakespearean tragedy, despite its weakness for “intermixing comic stuff with tragic sadness” (Note, Samson Agonistes), qualifies Milton’s classical understanding of the genre’s specifically expressive purpose.

Lara Dodds

Increase, But Don’t Eat: Divine Commands as Worldbuilding in Paradise Lost

In an important article from over three decades ago, Mary Nyquist cautions against the assumption of a “single, uniform mimetic modality” in Paradise Lost and urges critics attend to the diversity of narration that characterizes the poem (ELR 14, 1984). In this paper I explore Milton’s narrative strategies in the representation of the divine commands that structure the social and spiritual life of prelapsarian Eden: 1) “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Gen 1:28); and 2) “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). Milton’s representation of these commands, also known as the primordial blessing and the Prohibition, is characterized by strategic narrative techniques of deferral, delay, and retrospective narration, as well as a careful management of diegetic and extra-diegetic references. I explore how worldbuilding, which is one of the distinctive aesthetic qualities and narrative strengths of science fiction, can provide a theoretical framework for describing the narrative (as opposed to theological) function of the primordial blessing and Prohibition in Paradise Lost. As Peter Stockwell argues, the narrative techniques of worldbuilding allow science fiction to create the illusion of a complete world through “rich immersion, architectural consistency, resonance, and persistence of effect” (The Poetics of Science Fiction, 2000). It is not a great leap to apply this description to the pre-lapsarian books of Paradise Lost. Here Milton shares with some writers of science fiction the challenge of representing an alien world with internal consistency and apparent verisimilitude. In this paper I argue that Milton’s strategies of retrospective narration and the careful management of diegetic and non-diegetic references to the primordial blessing and the Prohibition are a crucial aspect of this worldbuilding. These narrative techniques succeed in producing an illusion of freedom while also providing for a strategic deferral that is crucial for understanding Adam and Eve’s “innocence” in the prelapsarian books of the poem. Just as Milton’s careful deployment of the prohibition of Genesis 2:16-17 serves as a negative command that establishes the context for Adam’s contract with God, so Milton uses Genesis 1:28 as a positive command that establishes futurity as the primary framework for Adam and Eve’s social life. Milton’s diegetic and extra-diegetic allusions allow simultaneous deference to an unknown future and acknowledgment of the inevitability of reproductive futurism. Delay, deferral, and retrospective narration preserve Adam and Eve in a state of expectant innocence that is at once dynamic and overdetermined.

Sim Ong

“Dream not of other worlds”: Beholding and Possessing Worlds in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained

In Book VIII of Paradise Lost, Milton’s Raphael warns Adam, “Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there live, in what state, condition, or degree.” His advice is prudent, of course, as the notion of plural worlds in early modern England was widely considered to be theologically thorny at best, and heretical at worst. Yet, Raphael says nothing about beholding other worlds.

As if anticipating this loophole, Robert Hooke freely enthuses over the potential for “every considerable improvement of telescopes or microscopes [to] produc[e] new worlds and terra-incognita’s to our view.” Hooke is convinced that these instruments will “make us, with the great Conqueror, to be affected that we have not yet overcome one world when there are so many others to be discovered.” The Son of God in Paradise Regained, however, is “unmoved” after Satan presented him with “all the kingdoms of the world” through some “strange parallax or optic skill/ Of vision multiplied through air, or glass/ Of telescope” and “airy microscope.” Reading Milton’s poems in light of Micrographia, this paper will elucidate the latent associations between optical instruments and worlds, as well as vision and possession in the early modern period.

Russ Leo

Milton, Spinoza, and the Challenge of the Quakers

Both Milton and Spinoza developed their approaches to politics, ethics, Scripture, and enthusiasm in conversation (direct and indirect) with Quakerism – a relatively new sect that made a significant impact across the Anglo-Dutch world after the 1650s. This paper reconstructs, at the outset, their connections to active Quakers, to illustrate how they encountered Quakerism in writing and in practice – paying particular attention to how diverse English and Dutch audiences characterized Quakerism. Moreover, the paper outlines the formative conversations between Quakers and Collegiants in Amsterdam, looking closely at writing by William Ames and Judith Zinspenning, before moving to Willem Sewel and Thomas Ellwood. Finally, the paper sketches how Spinoza’s posthumous publications, Milton’s DDC and his 1671 poems bear the traces of these formative encounters.

Fernando Martinez-Periset

Milton and Senecan Stoicism

In the past few decades there has been much scholarly work done on Milton and philosophy, with studies ranging from metaphysics to free will to dialectics. The issue of Milton’s ethical vision has been frequently examined in relation to the orthodox Christian values of forgiveness, humility, compassion and, most of all, self-abasement (Lewalski, 1966; Blessington, 1976; Cantor, 1989; Hillier, 2009; Henriksen, 2009; Hillier, 2011). This perspective sometimes draws on and supplements anti-Satanist arguments concerning Miltonic heroism (Lewis, 1942; Fish, 1967; Steadman, 1967). More recently, however, this consensus has been problematized, and some critics have instead aligned Milton with classical moral theories—particularly a blend of Stoicism with versions of Aristotelianism—rather than with quintessentially Christian views (Baumlin, 1994; Shifflett, 1998; Strier, 2011; Fleck, 2012).

The central claim of this paper is that within classical ethics the position that most clearly informs Milton’s poetry is Stoicism. Examinations of Milton in conversation with Stoic authors have been mostly brief and limited to Milton’s engagement with Seneca’s dramatic works (Stacy, 1973; Braden, 1989; Byville, 2008; Dzelzainis, 1998). But this emphasis has come at the expense of downplaying the importance of Seneca’s treatises and letters. Rather than being confined to Milton’s later works, as some scholars have suggested, the influence of Senecan Stoicism on Milton can be traced consistently throughout Milton’s poetic career from beginning to end.

With a focus on the overall unitary coherence of Milton’s thought as well as that of Seneca’s philosophical views on ethics and selfhood, the argument laid out in this paper focuses on Milton’s portrayal of two characteristically Stoic motifs: the role of constantia in connection to the pursuit of virtus and eudaimonia, and the necessity to purge the emotions in order to attain an inner state of ataraxia. These values distinguish Stoicism from rival schools of classical thought, including the Epicureans and the Peripatetics, and they continued to shape the reception and reinvention of Stoicism and Neo-Stoicism in Early Modern intellectual history. More precisely, these features can be best understood as interconnected variations on the Stoic attitude towards external goods and accidents, which strengthen the customary presentation of the sapiens as impenetrable and invulnerable at the level of the self. Examples focus mainly on Paradise Lost, with an emphasis on the characterization of Adam and Eve, and Abdiel’s confrontation with Satan. Constancy and rationality complement each other and intersect with Milton’s understanding of obedience, chastity, and patience. What emerges is that Milton is working with a vision of Christianity which paradoxically does not saliently exhibit the qualities that unambiguously distinguish classical from Christian sensibilities, and consequently Milton’s ethics are repeatedly more influenced by Stoicism rather than by Christianity.

James Nohrnberg

Angelic Doctors: Satan and Abdiel as Rival Theologians in Paradise Lost

A scene in Vida’s Christiad has suggested the confrontation of Satan and Abdiel at the end of Book V. Satan is pre-cast as recusant religious controversialist, whose brief concerns the reverence or worship due to the image of God by God’s co-religionists among the angels. Milton’s poem plays on a doubleness of the Son and mankind: both made in God’s image, so the debate is carried on under different auspices after the creation of man. The theologizing angels in the dramas of Joost Vondel and Giovanni Battista Andreini react to the putative exaltation of Adam, rather than a pre-Adamic Son, and Satan shares in that reaction too. Milton’s God has smoked Satan out, pre-dramatizing his envy of man, by provoking his envy of the Son in advance of man’s creation—which God has already sworn to.

Satan launches into his seditious speech in Book V with the word “[a]nother,” and then arrives at the word “image” by way of the word “double” (“Knee-tribute … Too much to one, but double how endured, / To one and to his image now proclaimed”). Thus he manages to allude to the double entendre that forms the literary basis for the rebellion in heaven against God’s decreeing either Adam’s creation or the Son’s exaltation.

According to a Sufi version of the story of the angels’ refusal to do obeisance to the new creature man, the angels excuse themselves because such worship would have constituted idolatry. The theological debaters at the end of Book V have apparently become embroiled in a virtual mimesis of the patristic controversy over the veneration of images of God in the eighth century Eastern Church. The debate is no less political. Eikonoklastes was the enemy of what its penultimate sentence calls “the image-doting rabble,” and those who took a king for a figurative father of his country. On the other side is Abdiel, who anticipates theology’s explanation Cur Deus Homo, or why the Incarnation, or the angels’ question, why the creation of man—what is man that God was mindful of him?

Sydnee Brown

Paradise Regained and the ‘Peaceful’ Empire of Glory

While Paradise Lost relies on scenes of warfare as a battleground for the war between the Christian and the classical at the expense of moral uprightness, Paradise Regained better models the ideals Milton wishes to promote for his epic heroes. Through the interactions between the Son and Satan, Paradise Regained plainly spells out the expectations for a successful Christian hero. In her article, “Divine Glory under Scrutiny in Paradise Regained,” Nicola Learmonth argues that “glory [is] a common good” and Milton seeks to cause “[d]iscomfort and confusion” throughout the epic. Her argument rests on the shoulders of the readers and their interpretations of the varying portrayals of glory, culminating in the final question: “why God should want glory.” I argue that Milton realized that he relied too heavily on physical action to portray God in an ideal and pristine manner, and Paradise Regained amends Paradise Lost in an attempt to underscore Christian morality and passivity as the ultimate site of glory. While the text clearly promotes Christian glory over its classical conceptions, I argue that Milton tangles himself up even further in the issue of conquest as glorious. In turn, by trying to valorize passive methods of spreading the glory of Christianity, Milton succeeds in substantiating colonial and crusader thought processes. Milton validates modes of conquest—albeit supposedly “peaceful” conquest—and in doing so still portrays God as endorsing classical conceptions of glory.

Olivia Leonard

Natural and Unnatural Slavery in Samson Agonistes: Milton’s Construction of an English Subject

This paper offers a reading of Samson Agonistes that considers Milton’s political writings concerning freedom and slavery in the context of English racial identity formation, arguing that as Milton developed political theories of a liberated English subject, as explored dramatically in Samson Agonistes, he did so alongside intimately interrelated racial discourses in early modern England. In his anti-monarchical political writings, as well as his poetry and dramas, Milton draws upon an Aristotelian understanding of “natural” slavery to argue that the people of England must govern themselves through reason in order to demonstrate that they are not “natural slaves” as they claim their political freedom. Yet an essential element of Milton’s construction of this rational, naturally free English subject is the parallel construction of the naturally servile and justly enslaved Other. Accordingly, this paper argues that the concept of “self-enslavement” (and its corresponding physical enslavement to a captor or master) as a fluid status or temporary irrationality is foreclosed to non-English enslaved people in Milton’s framework, particularly to black Africans. Only the rational white subject can move in and out of the condition of enslavement—self-enslavement or otherwise—by reasserting the rational self over the passions or over the fear of death; the black object lacks the capacity for reason that would allow for such assertion and recognition. Employing various models of subjectivity, this paper considers Samson’s violent act of liberation to conclude that Milton’s exemplary reassertion of the self as rational subject rather than object—and that self’s subsequent liberation—remains unavailable to black enslaved people, whose inherent darkness serves as an essential feature of their lack of rationality and thus humanity. The paper thus calls attention to the complex ways in which Milton’s writings contribute to prominent discourses on freedom emerging alongside ideas of white English identity and racially determined subjectivity—discourses concerning who is included and excluded in both identity and subjectivity, and how those inclusions and exclusions are essential to Milton’s liberatory project.

Nathan Nikolic

Grinding at the Mill: The Specter of Atlantic Slavery in Milton’s Samson Agonistes

After being captured by the Philistines, the biblical Samson of Judges was bound “with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house” (16:21). There is no indication in the bible that Samson was a slave, though it is reasonable to associate his captivity and punishment with some form of penal servitude. Milton’s Samson, on the other hand, is very decidedly a slave, the word “slave” being used in one form or another no fewer than nine times in a relatively (for Milton) short work. Milton’s Samson also “grinds” for the Philistines, but Milton clarifies that he is grinding “at the Mill with slaves” (41). While the sugar mills of the Caribbean were certainly not the only mills with which 17th-century Englishmen were familiar, they would have been the ones most closely associated with slaves. It is possible that Milton was more than vaguely familiar with these mills through his long acquaintance with Samuel Hartlib, who showed substantial and consistent interest in, and support of, the technologies of sugar production. In this paper, I explore the ways in which Milton’s portrayal of slavery in Samson Agonistes draws on the concurrent institutionalization of New World slavery, particularly by analyzing the features and characteristics which predispose Samson towards slavery in the poem.

Some attention has been paid to the treatment of slavery in Milton’s works. Steven Jablonski argues that Milton indeed subscribed to an ideology of natural slavery, believing that certain groups of people were, by nature, “inclineable to slavery” (177). More recently, Rosanna Cox has explored the neo-Roman coordinates of slavery in Samson Agonistes, claiming that Milton portrays Samson as triply enslaved and that the poem follows his struggle to break free from physical, emotional, and psychological servitude. Martin Dzelzainis has also categorized Samson’s slavery as Roman in form and has even drawn attention to his toil at the Gazan mill. While providing an excellent reading of this labor from the perspective of Roman law and custom, Dzelzainis does not consider the way that knowledge of the Caribbean sugar mills may have overlapped with Milton’s classical erudition while writing the poem. Following the work of scholars like Mary Nyquist, I connect the treatment of servitude in Samson Agonistes to the reality of chattel slavery in the Americas, particularly by focusing on the poem’s engagement with the discourse of natural slavery. This paper argues that by the time of the poem’s publication in 1671, it was practically impossible to speak of slavery in England without invoking its New World manifestation.

Jean David Eynard

Parrhesia Redux: The Musical Rhetoric of Free Speech in Milton’s Polemical Tracts

Recent scholarship has highlighted the importance of parrhesia as a rhetorical tool of free speech in seventeenth century England. However, it has seldom been noted that this figure also played a great role in early modern music theory, where it indicated ‘an intermixing of a certain dissonance with the other harmonizing voices’ (Burmeister). This paper demonstrates that Milton and other writers sometimes capitalised on the musical connotations of parrhesia to excuse their criticisms, reassuring readers that ‘after this harsh discord [they will] touch upon a smoother string’ (Milton), or asking for permission to use ‘a short discord to sweeten the Harmony of the approaching close’ (Hobbes). This paper brings new light onto this phenomenon through a rhetorical analysis of Milton’s defence tracts, showing how he skilfully builds on various musical concepts in order to present his own criticisms as ‘justified discords’, whilst criticising his opponent’s arguments as mere noise. I will begin by drawing attention to the acoustic affordances of Milton’s Defensios. These polemical treatises are highly acoustic texts, in which Milton frames the debates with his opponents as musical duels. He recurrently employs abruptio, parrhesia, retardatio, solecisms, and a range of other rhetorical tools that had not only literary connotations, but also played a key role in the management of dissonance in early modern music. Milton’s self-aware musical rhetoric is reinforced by his extensive use of acoustic metaphors to define his opponents’ writing styles, as well as his own. By bringing attention to Milton’s rhetorical and metaphorical use of dissonant effects in the Defensios, I intend to highlight the role of musical rhetoric as a guiding argumentative principle throughout his polemical writings—allowing him to frame his harsh criticisms and stylistic failures as ‘justified discords’, whilst simultaneously debasing his opponents’ arguments as imperfect music, if not mere cacophony. I contend that Milton’s use of musical concepts in the Defensios is not only an important aspect of his prose style, but has also great political implications, as he compares his dissonant way of writing to free speech. This is well exemplified by Milton’s references to parrhesia; the Defensios not only testify to the cross-artistic value of this rhetorical figure, but ultimately show how certain musical notions could be employed to justify free speech. By highlighting the musical and acoustic affordances of Milton’s prose in the Defensios, I will offer a new interpretative key for the study of these texts, making an original intervention into longstanding debates regarding the interplay of politics and style in seventeenth century England.

Nathaniel Likert

Milton Marprelate

This paper proposes to examine the influence of the Puritan polemical persona, Martin Marprelate, on the style and metaphysics of John Milton. Specifically, I will argue that Marprelate offered Milton a novel way to think about the relation between narrator and character. Marprelate was the voice of a series of Elizabethan pamphlets decrying the Episcopalian hierarchy, documenting its structural flaws and the abuses of its priests. The pamphlets initiated a year-long manhunt for the anonymous author, and provoked an explosive response on the popular stage and in a range of printed media. These rebuttals tended to copy Marprelate’s own style, however, perpetuating rather than silencing it. That style was Marprelate’s chief innovation, carrying the battle against episcopacy from the lofty heights of doctrine to the scrum of print satire, vastly increasing the audience for the Puritan cause.

In essence, Marprelate represents a landmark in the history of literary character, pushing it toward its modern sense of detachable, individual person. Martin’s many appearances in several media helped consolidate his image as an independently-existing figure. That individuality, though, is tempered by his abstraction – he is the Puritan Cause itself, ideas made flesh. As Samuel Fallon has argued, Marprelate was one of a number of Elizabethan “paper monsters” who embodied the abstract force of print, rendering it legible but also figuring its potency and slipperiness. Marprelate was, then, a character on the knife edge of individual and type.

This paper claims that Milton drew on Marprelatian style in his own war against the “new presbyters.” In particular, I argue that Milton drew on Marprelate’s seesaw between individual and type to compensate for moments in which he felt himself isolated by his own particularity, by insufficient authority, the weight of sin, or self-consciousness in the wake of the Restoration.

I look first to Milton’s early Apology for Smectymnuus, in which the poet seeks to overcome his youthful anonymity to speak as part of the collective, itself drawing its polemical energy from the Marprelatian legacy, as seen in the use of a corporate pseudonym. I argue that the essay offers a meditation on the nature of corporate character, and how it may be accessed and used. A couple moments from the later exchanges with Salmasius further the point, as Milton seeks to vindicate the personal attacks made on him. I then follow the Marprelatian legacy into Paradise Lost, examining the poem’s narrator as an isolated figure seeking to achieve a strength of voice he can find only by modulating into and selectively identifying with his exemplary characters, Adam and Eve. I seek to show that characters often heralded as pre-novelistic in their psychological depth and singularity, when read in the Marprelate lineage, can be seen as types deployed and positioned by a narrator, whose iterability marks their political power.

Benjamin Woodford

Liberty as Public Policy: Milton’s Writings as a Civil Servant

Milton’s understanding of liberty is shaped by his career as a civil servant. As Secretary of Foreign Tongues, Milton could consider the relationship between people, institutions, and liberty during a national crisis. Part of Milton’s duties as an employee of the government was to produce defences of the regicide, Commonwealth, and Protectorate. These works defend the new regimes in England, but they also negotiate the relationship between governing institutions and the people. Liberty, in Milton’s works, is not an abstract philosophical concept, but rather a matter of public policy. Through his works, Milton attempts to determine the actions required by institutions to bring about the condition of liberty while responding to a political crisis.

The question that Milton’s Commonwealth prose tracts address is which areas should the government exercise control and which areas should be left to the individual. Milton’s commitment to liberty caused him to view even those moments of government intervention not as violations of liberty, but as the means to secure it. Liberty, for Milton, was defined by outcomes. In some cases, liberty could best be achieved by leaving people alone to decide for themselves (particularly in religious matters), in other cases liberty could only be achieved through government direction.

Chris Koenig-Woodyard

Paradise Lost, Frankenstein, and Gothic Blots

This paper explores the “blot” in John Milton’s writing and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). The blot, I contend, thematically and methodologically offers a site for a critical conversation of Shelley’s blot-like (and Miltonic) treatment of character and genre. An anathematic figure, a typographic, graphological, and orthographic slip, a mode or moment of moral impugnment, the blot shapes the optical and textual dynamics of Shelley’s characterization of monstrous and gothic obscurity and inscrutability. In mounting such a reading, I argue for a shift in the historiographical and critical conversation that surrounds Shelley’s indebtedness to Milton (and Paradise Lost in particular). I relocate the scholarly discussion of the creature’s self-proclaimed epistemological and emotional interest in Milton’s figures of Adam and Satan to a consideration of Shelley’s indebtedness to the blot-like portrait of Death in Book II of Paradise Lost. In having the Frankenstein creature famously and self-loathingly ask “Was I then a monster, a blot upon the earth?,” Shelley engages, first, the Burkean sublime as she draws on Edmund Burke’s modeling of “terror” and “obscurity” in the Philosophical Enquiry (in which Milton’s Death looms and lurks centrally), and, second, in an experimental visual and textual rhetoric that draws on the blot art movement popularized by Alexander Cozens in his Essay to Facilitate the Inventing of Landskips, Intended for Students in the Arts (1759; 1785).

Isaias Uggetti Erazo

“Nature is Imagination itself”: The Politics of Miltonic Inspiration in Fuseli and Blake

Paintings of Milton’s domestic life contributed to the politicization of aesthetics in England at the turn of the 18th century (1790-1810). Beginning with Samuel Johnson, Milton’s relationship with his daughters provided a setting to negotiate the poet’s literary and political legacy. Where Johnson rebuked Milton for his domestic despotism, William Hayley charged Milton’s eldest daughters with dishonoring their venerable father. Johnson uses Milton’s private flaws as evidence against his republicanism, and Hayley’s panegyric likewise excuses the divinized Milton from contributing to contemporary politics. In his painting Milton and His Daughters (1793), George Romney visualized Hayley’s hagiographic view and its apolitical implications. In Romney’s scene, Milton leans away from his daughters in passive contemplation while his eldest fires a resentful glance at him. A chasm yawns between Milton and the historical origins and effects of his work.

To this tension between Milton’s art and politics, Henry Fuseli and William Blake respond by excavating a political agenda from the dictation scene. Revising Romney’s version, Fuseli’s Milton Dictating to His Daughter (1793) decenters Milton’s moment of inspiration and foregrounds his daughter’s creation of the material text. Blake then works out the politics of this scene across his poetry, but especially in the epic Milton (1803), where Milton becomes England’s spiritual savior only after repenting of his domestic sins. Blake’s Milton is neither exalted to a timeless aesthetic realm nor trapped by his historical failures. Rather, Blake discovers Milton’s lasting political relevance by emphasizing the historical conditions that produced his art. I suggest that by tying Milton’s poetry to its material context, Fuseli and Blake collapse neoclassical and romantic doctrines of creativity to illumine artistic production as inherently political.

Stephen Dobranski

The Case of Missing Persons in Paradise Lost

When Eve proposes to Adam in Paradise Lost that they should work separately, he acknowledges the pleasure of a separation: “short retirement urges sweet return” (9.250). It is not, of course, the first time that the couple parts. Eve initially turns away when she first sees Adam, she later “Bestirs” herself to gather “fruit of all kinds” for lunch with Raphael (5.337, 341), she chooses to leave again when Adam and Raphael enter on “studious thoughts abstruse” (8.40), and Michael will temporarily separate the couple a final time after the Fall to give them instructions about the future. The postponement that predicates Eve and Adam’s romance—their “sweet reluctant amorous delay” (4.311)—seems to reverberate in all of these temporary separations and reunions.

But Adam and Eve are not the only characters who part and reunite in Milton’s poem. This paper addresses Adam and Eve’s separations in relation to the epic’s various other depictions of leave-taking and reunion—between Satan and Sin, Chaos and Satan, Satan and Beëlzebub, Zephon and Satan, Satan and his followers, and Abdiel and God. Already during the medieval period, it had become conventional wisdom that absence sharpens love, and early modern love poets, including Milton, surely knew that Ovid in Ars amatoria had recommended temporary erotic absence: “when you’re confident you’ll be missed, . . . / . . . / Then give her some respite” (2.349-51). Reading Milton’s poem in relation to other early modern depictions of the absent beloved, this paper explores how and why Milton portrays the perverse rewards of missing someone.

Samuel Fallon

Another Eve: Milton, Cavell, and the Problem of Plurality

Samuel Johnson’s criticism of what he saw as the want of “human interest” in Paradise Lost stemmed from the fact that Adam and Eve “are in a state which no other man or woman can ever know.” Johnson meant in the first place their prelapsarian innocence. But he also pointed to another aspect of their strangeness: “Of human beings,” he writes, “there are but two.” Without endorsing his judgment, this paper takes a cue from Johnson’s attention to Eden’s numbers. One of the central questions of Paradise Lost, I suggest, is what it might mean to understand oneself as human in a world without other people.

Like Adam, who was made solitary, Eve’s first experience of the world comes without the presence of anyone else, and so, where he can only imagine human plurality as his own “image multiplied,” Eve also conceives of it in the terms of replicated identity, drawn as she is to her image in the pool. Where Johnson wonders how the reader can come to see Adam and Eve as human, Milton asks how they can come to see themselves as human.

The poem’s answer, I suggest, is that they gain a sense of humanness in the experience of multiplicity, not as self-multiplication but as an encounter with comparable difference. In order to make this argument, I draw on the philosopher Stanley Cavell’s account of acknowledgment, as the act by which one recognizes the difference and separateness of another person, and so, at the same time, of oneself. For Milton as for Cavell, I argue, the category of the human cannot be defined; it can emerge only indirectly, from the recognition of mutual finitude.

Adam and Eve thus begin to grasp their humanness by understanding each other as irreducibly particular; but they can understand their particularity only against an idea of human plurality. This is made most vividly clear in Milton’s depiction of the moments after Eve’s fall, when both she and Adam imagine her replacement by “another Eve.” In this moment, the possibility of understanding oneself in plural terms—as one among others—proves decisive. The idea of another Eve elicits a prospective jealousy precisely because it allows her and Adam to feel, for the first time, love’s particularizing force—or, as Cavell would put it, to single each other out.

Patrick McGrath

“A Nice and Subtle Happiness”: Finding Fault with Paradise

This paper argues that the primordial moment of coupling in Paradise Lost—the creation of Eve in book eight—contains features that can be mobilized for sexual non-engagement. For example, Adam is less alone than he initially seems; Milton’s solitary God, whose solitariness Arianism only exaggerates, provides an imitable model of aloneness without loneliness; and, finally, Adam’s request for a partner has connotations of fussiness, and it leads to a brief moment in which the dynamic between creature and Creator becomes theologically untenable.

In book eight, Milton undertakes a difficult task in the unscriptural narrative of Adam asking God for Eve. Several biblical commentators observe the interpretive challenges posed by Eve’s creation, by finding something wanting in paradise: “He created Adam good, and yet he said it is not good; both these may truely stand together.” Nicholas Gibbons expands on the paradox by questioning in what sense Adam exists alone: “But how could hee be alone? who had the presence and dominion of so manie creatures? yea how could he be alone, that had the comfortable presence of God himselfe? wherefore hee was alreadie exceedinglie blessed, so that to have a help could alone augment his blessednes.” The augmentation of blessedness could seem like gilding the Lily, supplying that which Adam already has. In Select Thoughts (1654), Joseph Hall also raises the question of Adam’s solitariness:

God who is simply one, infinitely perfect, absolutely compleat in himself, enjoys himself fully, from all eternity, without any relation to the creature: but knowing our wants, and weaknesses, he hath ordained a society for our well-being; and therefore even in mans innocency, could say, It is not good for man to be alone: And why Lord? why might not man have taken pleasure enough in the beauty and sweetness of his Paradise, in contemplating thine Heaven, in the command of thine obsequious creatures, and above all, in the fruition of thy divine presence, in that happy integrity of his nature without any accession of other helps?

This passage states the advantages of Adam’s Edenic existence so comprehensively that they seem incapable of any modification that is not also a diminution or a gratuitous redundancy. In Milton’s account of Eve’s creation in book eight, a hint of redundancy and Adam’s presumptions emerge at certain points. These “stress points” raise the possibility of alternatives to coupledom; they open non-companionate, or alternatively companionate, spaces. In its exploration of these spaces, this paper considers the possible intersection of Miltonic sexuality with ideas similar to the modern concept of asexuality.

Eric Brown

Rereading Milton’s Acrostics

While a marginal area of study for most readers of Milton, his use of acrostics in Paradise Lost—the spelling out of words using the first letters of successive lines of verse—has nonetheless been the subject of a handful of scholarly notes and essays over the past forty-five years, and recently the subject of considerable popular interest. The sleuthing began with P.J. Kemp (“’Now Hid, Now Seen’: An Acrostic in Paradise Lost”), who recognized the now infamous rendering of SATAN along the edges of a passage in Book 9, lines 510-14, just as Satan is working his way “side-long” towards Eve. In 2019, Miranda Phaal made the case for an “interlocking acrostic,” also in Book 9, of the word FALL. This latter discovery received widespread media coverage, driven partly by Ms. Phaal being still an undergraduate at Tufts University at the time of her identification, and partly as an affirmation of strong desire in the popular imagination for tales of symbology and cryptography—the kind of textual treasure-hunting that undergirds best-selling Dan Brown novels.

Building on the findings of Kemp and Phaal, Mark Vaughn (“More than Meets the Eye: Milton’s Acrostics in Paradise Lost”), Jane Partner (“Satanic Vision and Acrostics in Paradise Lost”), and others, this paper will revisit the case for Milton’s use of acrostics, situating the practice within Renaissance wordplay more broadly and as an operative part of Milton’s epic design. The presentation will include a fuller statistical analysis than has been conducted to date on the (im)probability of such letter combinations in Paradise Lost, will expand the study to include Milton’s brief epic, Paradise Regained, and will point out numerous additional acrostics previously unnoticed in both works.

John Hale

Norms of Appreciation for Milton’s Latin Verse

Traditional norms of appraisal for humanist Latin verse stress “correctness” of Latin style and of prosody, or a general “elegance,” and so find Milton’s Poemata blemished or deficient. Suppose instead we seek out what is best in them, not worst, and search for that “sublime” effect or hupsos which Longinus explores in Greek. What do we find that is “counter, original, spare, strange,” especially original? A range of examples is offered, from all periods of Milton’s Latin; both early and late, and short and long.

Lynne Magnusson

The Agility of Small Words in Milton’s English: The Literary Affordances of Prepositions

Much of Milton’s extraordinary grammatical artistry remains unexplored, not least his use of what may seem the least adventurous English part of speech – the preposition. In Paradise Lost, prepositional phrases are often foregrounded in surprising and sometimes strangely obtrusive ways. Their inventive interplay seems quite remarkable. Consider, for example, the work done by prepositions in construing Nimrod’s situation and keeping open competing interpretations in the Archangel Michael’s narration of future history in Paradise Lost, Book XII:

A mighty hunter thence he shall be styled
Before the Lord, as in despite of Heav’n
Or from Heav’n claiming second sov’reignty;
And from rebellion shall derive his name,
Though of rebellion others he accuse.
. . .
He with a crew, whom like ambition joins
With him or under him to tyrannize. . . (XII.33-39)

Often in Paradise Lost, it is a preposition that stands in first place, conspicuously beginning many of its lines and sentences and, indeed, the entire poem. Their relative frequency in Milton’s work is striking: according to Ronald Emma, prepositions constitute 12.7 per cent of the words in his sample corpus, in comparison to 8.1% in Shakespeare and 10.6% in T.S. Eliot ( Milton’s Grammar 122).

Milton writes just at the time when budding grammarians of English were slowly beginning to consider how English grammatical categories differed from the Latin forms that had been so thoroughly drilled into the psyche of every schoolboy. English had itself transitioned from a synthetic into an analytic language, but, with Latin grammar initially providing the template for English grammars, there was no clear understanding of its distinctive forms. Critiquing earlier English grammars for “bring[ing] our English language too close to the Latin norm,” John Wallis in his Grammatica linguae Anglicanae of 1653 denounced the “many useless principles concerning the cases, genders, declensions of nouns, tenses, moods, conjugations of verbs, . . . and many other such things which our language has nothing at all to do with.” He innovated by turning attention to the distinctive work of prepositions and auxiliary verbs:

an entirely new method should be employed, neglecting the Latin approach and keeping close to what is particularly suited to the nature of our tongue; in the syntax of nouns, all things are established with the aid of prepositions; in the conjugation of verbs, all things are done with the aid of auxiliaries. (trans. George Raney [1972], 26)

Experimenting in poetry with the vernacular’s novel linguistic forms rather than theorizing in prose, Milton discovered expressive affordances for the prepositional phrase suited to the purposes of his grand style. He clearly recognized and delighted in the mobility of the form even as he contended with the more fixed Subject-Verb-Object order of the vernacular sentence, which restricted rhetorical effects familiar to him from Latin.

This paper explores a range of effects Milton achieves with the agile “aid of prepositions,” situating its arguments in relation both to emerging grammars of English and current-day linguistic theory.

David Adkins

“Christ’s Descent to the Dead in Paradise Lost and De Doctrina Christiana

Although many have noted the references to Christ’s descensus ad inferos in Paradise Lost, few have considered the sheer strangeness of the doctrine’s appearance in a Protestant poem of the seventeenth century. After Spenser, depictions of the harrowing of hell all but disappear from English literature. The belief that after the crucifixion Christ rescued the souls of the patriarchs and prophets from hell became untenable when the reformers rejected limbo along with purgatory. But there was an even more radical change in doctrine that practically doomed the narrative tradition as a whole. Reformed Christians were no longer certain whether Christ had descended at all, not even to battle the powers of darkness. For the reformers had reinterpreted the credal article so that it referred to Christ’s suffering during the crucifixion; rather than a literal assault upon hell, Christ’s descent to the lower places now meant that on the cross he bore the wrath that God inflicts upon the wicked.

Why does Milton imagine the Son descending to the grave to do battle with Death, an event that belongs to a largely defunct poetic tradition? One answer to this question is that the tradition of English harrowing poetry did manage to survive in the long biblical poems of the Spenserians, especially Joseph Beaumont’s Psyche. Another is that Milton’s mortalism allowed him to rehabilitate the doctrine of Christ’s literal descent in his theology. This paper first addresses Milton’s theology of the descent in De Doctrina and then considers his reception of English harrowing poetry in Paradise Lost. It concludes with some reflections on why the tradition of Christ’s descent persisted long after it failed to meet the Reformation’s new standards of credibility.

Björn Quiring

The Ecstasy of Eternal Administration: The Conflation of Divine Judgment and Eternal Bliss in Paradise Lost and De Doctrina Christiana

There is a long and venerable Christian pedigree to the idea that divine judgment is not only an event at the end of history, but also an ongoing process that pervades fallen nature and history (see e.g. Luke 17.20-21). On the one hand, the apocalypse is conceived as a break with pre-apocalyptic existence and as a new start, wiping out all injustices and making “all things new” (PL 11.912, quoting Rev. 21.5); but on the other hand, it is represented as merely the culmination of processes that already inhere in creation. Milton’s treatment of this ambivalence resolves some theological dilemmas, but creates its own problems. Firstly, he conflates the Millennium and the Last Judgment – implicitly in Paradise Lost, expressly in the Doctrina Christiana. In his treatise, interpreting the Final Day as an “indefinite period of time” (“quovis tempore”), he turns the Divine Judgment that will separate the sheep from the goats into a corporate work of administration, “non tam iudiciarium quam moderatorium.” Even more strangely, the Final Judgment comes to blend not only with human jurisprudence, but also with the heavenly bliss of the redeemed: participating in salvation means continually drawing the line between the just and the unjust – a process that may go on forever. Judgment turns out to be not the means to an end, but the end and perfection of life itself, and God’s unceasing apotheosis. Milton’s monism and his strong emphasis on free will results in a Last Judgment that overflows its conventional boundaries and presents itself as unexpectedly rich and strange.

Aidan Selmer

“Through a Glass, Darkly”: Milton’s Poetics of Mystery

Although John Milton’s composition of the De Doctrina Christiana and Paradise Lost required an extensive engagement with scripture, this course of reading encouraged a particularly close study of the Pauline epistles, especially the Apostle’s first letter to the Corinthians. One of the few marginal notes in Milton’s copy of the King James Bible clarifies that he preferred to translate 1 Cor. 13:12, Paul’s declaration that mortal knowledge is like seeing “through a glass, darkly,” as “in a riddle” or aenigma, a translation that appears multiple times in De Doctrina Christiana. In Paradise Lost, excerpts from 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 appear twice in dialogues between God the Father and God the Son as they envision a future where “God shall be All in All” (3.341, “Thou shalt be All in All” in 6.732). My paper argues that Milton’s wrestling with Pauline scripture during the composition of De Doctrina Christiana helps explicate this recurring citation of 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 in Paradise Lost. In the poem’s scenes of heavenly council, God the Father and the Son predict—repeatedly, and without verbal or theological consensus—the apocalyptic state that Paul offers in 1 Corinthians 15:28, where God “shall be all in all.” These references leave unresolved the precise nature of the eschaton that Milton envisions, begetting a poetic style that conforms to Paul’s concept of divine mystery, or spiritual truth known imperfectly.

Mathieu Bouchard

Mary Wellington and the Publication of Paradise Lost in 1719

The British Library holds a unique copy of the 1719 duodecimo edition of Paradise Lost with a publisher’s imprint that reads: “Printed for M. Wellington” (shelfmark 1490.p.9.(1.)). All other extant copies of the edition have a different publisher’s imprint, listing Jacob Tonson — a powerful London bookseller associated not only with Milton but also with Shakespeare and Dryden — as the poem’s sole publisher.

“M. Wellington” stands for Mary Wellington, a publisher who was active in London from 1715 until 1720. She had inherited a bundle of copyrights from her husband, Richard Wellington, when he died in 1715. When Mary Wellington remarried, in 1720, she retained ownership of her copy, but her name ceased appearing on title pages. During her brief career as an independent bookseller, Wellington was involved in several important publishing endeavours. For instance, she published an influential 1717/8 players’ edition of Hamlet that was probably edited by the poet John Hughes. Yet, perhaps because of the brevity of her independent career, perhaps because she was a woman, or perhaps because of the rarity of her 1719 edition of Paradise Lost, the possible significance of her contributions to Miltonic editorial history have been overlooked.

This paper examines Mary Wellington’s role in the 1719 Paradise Lost. I argue that Wellington’s involvement in the edition adds a new and important piece of evidence to a long-lasting bibliographical quandary: the question of who, exactly, edited Paradise Lost in 1719. The edition was the first to be based on a collation of both the 1667 and 1674 versions of the poem; that is, it was the first edition compiled by an editor who systematically compared the two early versions of the poem and chose amongst their variant readings. The editor is not named on the title page, though there is some documentary evidence to suggest that John Hughes – the same Hughes who is suspected of having edited Wellington’s Hamlet – was responsible for the revisions. By tracing the links between Wellington and Hughes, this paper adds further evidence to the claim for Hughes’s Miltonic editorship.

The paper will also show that Mary Wellington was the first of the Wellingtons to explicitly advertise the family’s share of the copyright to the poem. It is unclear when the Wellingtons gained a portion of the Paradise Lost copyright: the 1719 edition is the first to mention their name, which next appeared on Richard Bentley’s 1732 edition of the poem. Mary Wellington’s involvement in the 1719 edition disrupts the commonly held notion that Tonson enjoyed exclusive rights to early-eighteenth century editions of Milton, and that Tonson alone turned Milton into an eighteenth-century classic.

Jonathan Koch

‘For the Benefit of English Readers’: Collecting Milton’s Prose (1698)

In 1698, the three volume Complete Collection of the Historical, Political, and Miscellaneous Works of John Milton appeared in a world newly open to the prose writings of the revolutionary poet. Despite its ‘Amsterdam’ imprint, the elegant folio edition was almost surely the work of John Darby, a London printer, bookseller, and collaborator with John Toland in publishing what has since been called the ‘Whig Canon.’ Students of Milton and Republicanism have made much of the place of this edition in late Stuart England—how it rehabilitated Milton the political thinker alongside Milton the poet, brought republican ideas to bear on Williamite monarchy, and moved ‘readers from political thought to political action.’ But who were these readers? Who was purchasing Milton’s prose in 1698 and in the decades that followed? And how did they engage with Darby’s edition? By tracing records of ownership and marks of reading in copies of the Complete Collection (especially in the Huntington Library copy), this paper tests the importance of Milton’s prose in late Stuart politics against the material conditions of its circulation and use.

Christopher Warren

Whig Data: Milton’s Printers in the Restoration

While scholars including D.F McKenzie and Nicholas von Maltzhan have made detailed studies of Milton’s printers in the Restoration, and others like Richard Greaves, Annabel Patterson, Maureen Bell, and Martin Dzelzainis have studied the wider climate of Restoration censorship under Roger L’Estrange, this paper uses computational bibliography to shed new light on the identities and activities of Milton’s Restoration printers. Investigating both attributed and unattributed publications, the paper will situate printers including Samuel Simmons, Thomas Newcomb, and John Macock within emerging Whig print culture. It will also demonstrate how digital reproductions can be transformed into rich new data sources for reconstructing ideological networks and what can be gained with new resources for identifying clandestine publications.

Jeffrey Gore

Milton in the Commons: Libraries, Literacy, and the Political Nation in the Likeliest Means

In contrast with Of Education’s 1644 designs on fashioning leaders of the post-monarchical republic out of England’s “noble and . . . gentle youth,” Milton imagines in his 1659 Likeliest Means a non-elite system of community-based teachers and enhanced local libraries for educating any community member “with spiritual gifts” to become ministers, who would serve their entire communities, from the “magistrate . . . to the meanest artificer” (YP 7:319). Milton’s proposed educational commons in Likeliest Means, I will argue, challenges his predominate republican conception of the political nation run by an elite senatorial class, as we see in Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649) and The Ready and Easy Way (1660). Written within months of The Ready and Easy Way, the educational commons model in Likeliest Means offers an alternative conception to Milton’s more familiar popular sovereignty model of political governance and challenges us to ask whether the two pamphlets are politically at cross purposes or could allow some synthesis of the two.

Although English book collections suffered from the dissolution of the monasteries in the middle sixteenth century, libraries re-emerged in Protestant England in the next century, accompanied by increased conversations on the role they might play in religious and civic community. By the 1580s, a small number of endowed libraries in England were built for the use of Protestant clergymen, schools, and laity, followed a half century later by “chained libraries” for the vernacular reading public, such as Manchester’s Chetham Library, in 1653. In 1647, Samuel Hartlib and John Dury proposed the establishment of an “Office of Address for Communication,” which would increase informational exchange among artisans and intellectuals throughout the Commonwealth and would help organize the “Chiefe Library-keepers of all places.” And in his 1651 Reformed Librarie Keeper, Dury argued for increased Parliamentary funding for libraries, to compensate librarians as “Agents for the advancement of universal Learning.” Within this context, Milton similarly advocates a financial commitment to a public educational infrastructure, where the revenue and lands from monasteries would support the erection “in greater number, all over the land, schools, and competent libraries to those schools, where languages and arts may be taught free together, without the needless . . . removal to another place.”

In contrast with Milton’s more common conception of educational politics – where privilege and elite education help establish an intellectual aristocracy – in his 1659 Likeliest Means, he asserts a different vision of the political nation, grounded in “a holy and a royal priesthood” serving diverse communities. The tension of this contradiction, I argue, contributes to how we might understand whether our first parents from Paradise Lost – who in their “naked Majestie seemed Lords of all” – are best understood as the first aristocrats or, whether their combined pursuits as laborer, namer, and sovereign, as Joanna Picciotto argues, embody the “ideal model” for the “disappearance of social difference.”

E Mariah Spencer

John Milton and Margaret Cavendish Compared: Two Divergent Views on Education

This paper makes the case for Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) as a feminist pedagogue by contextualizing her place in the development of educational reforms in seventeenth-century England. In particular, it puts Cavendish in conversation with John Milton (1608-1674); the glaring differences between this man, who actively participated in educational reform and this woman, who wrote around its edges could hardly be more profound. Milton published his early works from a position of relative power, with an aim to expand on the type of humanist education he himself had received. While Cavendish, looking in from the margins of education, could only gesture broadly at problems in a system from which she was excluded. Despite these challenges, Cavendish explores numerous alternatives to the problematic elitism and tedium of patriarchal models like the one proposed by Milton. To gain a clearer understanding of Cavendish’s pedagogy, this paper delves into the basic tenants of Milton’s treatise, Of Education (1644). In it, Milton proposes an academy combining a broad humanist curriculum (heavy on Greek and Latin texts, while including the sciences of engineering, navigation, and anatomy) with newer forms of pedagogy underscoring the values of Christian humanism. In contrast, Cavendish insists on a curriculum of delight and a pedagogy akin to play. She regularly advocates for expanded access to education for women. She discourages the use of difficult or confusing texts, while advocating for the clearest and simplest language possible. She seldom mentions religion or theology, and instead presents education as a source of pleasure and a means of gaining sovereignty over the self. Milton insists on a curriculum steeped in the reading of many books, while Cavendish claims to have read very little. Milton finds his power and agency situated in his ability to ingest, synthesize, and espouse the literature of the ancients, while Cavendish finds herself denying their influence. He is praised for his incredible learning, while she is accused of plagiarism and theft. He boldly publishes his theories of education, while she mixes hers subtly throughout her corpus. His time at university is uninspiring, while she is barred from attending. Milton goes on to teach a series of young students, while Cavendish sits alone in her closet. How else did their philosophies of education differ, and what can we learn from putting them in dialogue with one another?

Amy Stackhouse

Milton’s Aristotelian “Character Education”

Character education is the controversial idea that the virtues of strong character — honesty, integrity, justice, courage — can and should be taught in the schools to form virtuous individuals and good citizens (Damon et al.). Jaques Benninga and Marvin Berkowitz have deemphasized the focus on citizenship in favor on what is called “moral identity,” the idea that a person’s morals are as important a part of their identity as their race, religion, gender, or national origin. Those who argue against character education use multiple arguments, including that it has not been scientifically proven to be effective and that the practice smacks of state control and that the practice is really about social conformity and not about character, at all (Dune, Fabes, Greenburg et al., Juhasz, Smagorinsky and Taxel, Talk, Was, Whitley, Yu).

In the United States the history of character education can be traced back to the Puritans in New England who attempted to instill Christian morality in their citizens. The New England Primer, published in 1690, for example, taught reading through Biblical and didactic verses. The practice, however, began in England in the Seventeenth Century with Protestant reformers, notably Samuel Hartlib, William Petty, and, of course, John Milton.

Each of these reformers had significant connections to the government of Oliver Cromwell and, unlike, those Protestants who came to the new world, were less focused on religious teaching and more interested in reforming education itself, particularly the “Aristotelian” scholasticism of the universities. Milton’s contribution to this educational reform was not an elimination of Aristotle, however. Rather, it was a shift in focus from Aristotelian metaphysics to Aristotelian ethics, culminating in Aristotelian poetics.

This paper examines the ways in which Milton initiated that shift and connected the Nicomachean Ethics with the Poetics.

Margaret Kean

Behold a Wonder! Reviving the Mock Heroic

In November 2021, Armando Iannucci, a well-known British political satirist and comedy script writer ( Alan Partridge; The Thick of It; Veep; The Death of Stalin), published a mock-epic poem, Pandemonium: Some Verses on the Current Predicament. This poem adopted a consciously Miltonic grand style for its engagement with the pandemic situation in the UK and concomitant appraisal of British political leadership. My paper will offer a reading of this rebarbative text, its gleefully acerbic censure of political hubris and its tireless questing for bad puns and literary allusions. Iannucci is doing far more than making quips (though quips there are a-plenty) about the first year and a half of ‘luckless lockdowns’ through his stylistic decisions. The foregrounded Miltonic inheritance, and conscious application of the stultified formulations associated with mock-epic are intrinsic aspects of the contemporary poem’s accusatory stance and intended civic purpose in defence of a commonweal.

Laura Knoppers

“Force upon free will hath here no place”: Miltonic Freedom in Peter Weir’s The Truman Show

This paper explores the cinematic reworking of Miltonic themes, characters, and situations in Peter Weir’s 1998 film The Truman Show. The film features an Edenic setting (Seahaven), in which Truman stars as the unwitting protagonist of a long-running reality show, orchestrated by a would-be god-figure, Christof. After being tempted (or enlightened) by his true Eve, Sylvia, Truman seeks knowledge and no longer follows the choices carved out for him. But Christof’s world cannot accommodate Truman’s own choices, and he resorts to a series of increasingly implausible obstacles—from a sudden herd of joggers, a bevy of wheelchairs, and an instant traffic jam, to a forest fire, and a nuclear accident—to forcibly keep Truman in paradise. Ironically, such force in itself unravels the façade of paradise and opens Truman’s eyes to the truth, leading to more acts of free will. Milton’s God chooses to make a world in which evil exists because humanity’s freedom is a greater good. The Truman Show reveals what happens when a human playing God makes a world that is good—or ostensibly good—but in which there is no freedom. Risking the penalty of death to leave paradise, Truman chooses not only Edenic companionship in a fallen world but the highest Miltonic value of free will.

Susanne Woods

“Then Let Us Have Our Libertie Againe”: Freedom and Liberty in Lanyer and Milton

Both John Milton and Aemilia Lanyer announce their interest in ideas of freedom and liberty, both from perspectives formed by their Protestant Christianity. At a time when the terms were usually cognates but with some trace of their slightly different linguistic heritages, Lanyer and Milton use “liberty” and “freedom” to support differing arguments against hierarchy, Milton’s in favor of male meritocracy and hers in favor of gender equality.

The differences between them appear most readily in their portrayals of Adam and Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. Milton’s Eve is an impressive figure but lesser than Adam even before the Fall. Lanyer does not concede a prelapsarian gender hierarchy and (in the voice of Pilate’s wife) insists on a return to women’s original liberty. On the surface Lanyer’s argument for Eve is the standard one: that she was the weaker sex and therefore should not be blamed for the Fall, but there are nuances to the argument that give the word “againe” (in “let us have our libertie againe”) particular force. This “libertie” becomes conflated with a newly recovered gender relationship and a potentially freed will, and the horror of the crucifixion both demands that recovery and fulfills that potential. Lanyer implies that this new liberty should be available to all women and therefore suggests a reduced social as well gender hierarchy.

The paper pays attention to how the slightly different heritages of “liberty” and “freedom” play into differences between ideas of civil liberty and free will in this period.

Kina Amagai

Miltonic Inversions in Toni Morrison’s Sula

Toni Morrison (1931-2019) hardly ever mentioned the influence and the indirect allusions from Paradise Lost (1667) by John Milton (1608-74), however, in Paradise (1997), her ironic depiction of ‘paradise’ for black people draws heavily on Milton. Also, A Mercy (2008) contains allusions to Milton, with his Christian moral hierarchies reflected in the novel’s gender and racial binaries. Morrison’s second novel Sula (1973) evokes Milton’s rendering of the Genesis story in Paradise Lost through indirect allusion and ironic inversions of character and gender positions. This presentation, through analyzing these key moments, aims to further explorations of Milton’s influence on Morrison, and more generally on African and black feminist literature.

In Sula, the novel’s key relationship between the protagonist Sula and her best friend Nel is an ironic reversal of Adam and Eve. Their friendship surpasses the love between mother and daughter, and wife and husband. However, Morrison inverts Christian patriarchy by granting masculine characteristics to Sula. ‘Masculine’ Sula and ‘feminine’ Nel are therefore opposed and compensate each other. They share a deep spiritual connection in their dreams and are also united in the extremes of their childhood encounters with ‘sinful’ behavior, ranging from murder to sexual activity. Like Eve, they experience a loss of innocence; however, unlike Milton’s Eve, Sula and Nel commit their sins knowingly and in complicity with their desire to protect each other from the punishments of their patriarchal community.

Morrison further ironically inverts Milton’s gendered Christianity by making Sula a representation of evil through her transgressive sexual behavior. The irony is that for her, such behavior is liberating, as much as it is a rebellion against gender and racial prejudices that put black women in the role of Eve-like temptress and threat to the social order. But this irony is doubled: Sula’s evil reinforces the town’s notion of Christian righteousness and the town’s social and spiritual connections get stronger by having her as a common enemy. The people of the town and Nel want to be ‘good’ as Eve, who wants to know ‘good’ (=knowledge). As Milton says, “for since it tasted, not only do we know evil, but also we do not even know good except through evil” ( De Doctrina Christina, 352). Morrison ironically interrogates Christianity’s moral framework.

Through her inversions of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Morrison’s Sula implicates the masculinist and ideological frameworks of canonical texts, while also recentering them to create a feminist African American that challenges traditional ideas of gender, race, and belief through love, pain, and isolation. Milton’s ideas remain only to be changed into a new Black poetics.

Brooke Conti

Milton’s Angels in Kushner’s America

Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is Miltonic in ways large and small. The title alone points to one major connection: Kushner’s angels appear to be direct descendants of those in Paradise Lost. They are hermaphroditic and unashamedly sexual, and although they interact with humans as teachers and would-be guides, they exist in an uneasy state of ontological superiority over God’s beloved final creation. Ultimately, however, the humans in Kushner’s work, like those in Milton’s, reject the counsel of the angels and the stasis of heavenly life to pursue the harder path of suffering, change, and—perhaps—progress.

Kushner’s familiarity with Milton is clear from other works, including the play he wrote immediately before Angels. However, apart from reviews of the play that describe the character of Roy Cohn as a charismatic villain “like Milton’s Satan,” to my knowledge no one has commented on the connections between Paradise Lost and Angels. This paper will rectify that oversight, focusing on the relationship between the AIDS-stricken Prior Walter and the ceaselessly copulating angels who bestow upon him a new sacred text, seek to make him a prophet, and tempt him with a life of apparent peace and immortality.

It is in the complex triangular relationship among humans, angels, and God that we can best see Milton’s influence on Kushner. There are other important sources for Kushner’s characterization of Prior as a prophet (Mormon history, the Hebrew Bible) and for his terrifying but ultimately limited angels (Walter Benjamin, the Hebrew Bible again). But the ways his angels mediate human-divine relations and the temptation they propose have no clearer literary antecedent than Paradise Lost. Kushner’s angels, resentful that God left heaven to follow his messy and mutable final creation, call upon Prior to become a prophet of stillness: if humanity stops moving, they believe, God will return to his heaven, creation will be re-perfected, and Prior himself will escape the ravages of his illness. In the end, however, Prior rejects his calling.

This framework reveals Kushner to be a thoughtful rewriter of Paradise Lost. His unreliable God has some of the same features as traditional critiques of Milton’s God, and Prior’s disinterest in the static, perfect life of the angels likewise aligns with readings of Paradise Lost that see the prelapsarian Garden as unsustainable and even undesirable. But while both Milton’s and Kushner’s works confront humans with a temptation that is mediated by angels and end with those humans having chosen the harder course of progress into history, Milton’s Adam and Eve succumb to temptation whereas Kushner’s Prior resists. In having Prior reject temptation, Kushner does not so much side with Eve as create a more truly Miltonic hero. Unlike the angels—in either Paradise Lost or Angels in America—Prior demonstrates that “who best can suffer, best can do.”

Reginald A. Wilburn

Passing for White with Milton in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars

Literary criticism has yet to make explicit the signifying routes that could explain Milton’s (in)visible presence of influence in various fictional works by early 20th-century African American writers. My monograph, Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt, provides theoretical foundations for launching these types of investigations. Arguing that select early African American writers like Phyllis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, and others trope with Milton in such a way so the epic writer’s “coheres to form a distinct cultural image and affect useful for advancing Africanist causes of justice and righteousness along multiple axes of social identity” (Wilburn 14). These cultural engagements with Milton across the color line of literary traditions would continue well beyond 1899 as more recent criticism engaging the fictional writings of Ishmael Reed, Toni Morrison, and Jamaica Kincaid have evidenced. Yet, no theory of Milton criticism exists that connects early African American writers to their post-modernist heirs in black tradition. Hence, I propose the following paper on Milton’s (in)visible presence of influence in Charles W. Chesnutt’s 1900 novel, The House Behind the Cedars. In this novel of racial passing, Milton continually reappears and functions as a civilizing intertext of black enlightenment. This rhetorical aid facilitates Chesnutt’s storytelling efforts of preaching a unique gospel of black revolt about the perils and travails endured by tragic mulattas like the author’s Eve-like protagonist, Rena Walden. Privileging black vernacular as a contextual lens for performing close readings of key passages from the novel, I advance a unique interpretive reading of Chesnutt’s mostly allusive style of appropriating Paradise Lost throughout this canonical literary work. This intertextual style, I argue, is representative of Chesnutt’s astute storytelling abilities wherein he puts Milton both literally and figuratively ‘on Front Street’ across the expanse of his novelistic plot. In addition to analyzing the geographical significance of the Edenic house behind the cedars, I explore other examples where Chesnutt allusively appropriates the bower scene in Paradise Lost, the “Narcissus passage” from Book 4 of the epic, and characterizations of John and Rena Walden as echoic composites of Milton’s Adam and Eve. Chesnutt also relies on snippets of satanic poetry to reinforce the allusive amplitude of his various Miltonic samplings throughout the novel. A single and direct reference to Milton by name near the middle of the novel ultimately showcases the fact that the epic writer, indeed, has been hiding allusively in plain sight from the earliest stages of the exposition. I explicate the signifyin(g) value of these allusive and direct moments throughout Chesnutt’s novel as cultural bookmarks that, according to Karla FC Holloway, attest to the literary influences of given black writers based on the works housed in their respective personal libraries or those they mention having read in their autobiographies and other writings. Ultimately, the goal of this presentation seeks to lead the interpretive way for extending the line of black Miltonic receptions across literary history so millennial scholar-critics are equipped to better trace the genomic signature of Milton’s influential presence as it flows from early African American writers, to their heirs at the beginning of the 20th century down to our present moment and beyond.

Henry Carges

Speaking through a “Sin-worn mould”: Representing Embodied Chastity in John Milton’s A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle and Margaret Cavendish’s Assaulted and Pursued Chastity

From a distance, John Milton’s “A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle” and Margaret Cavendish’s “Assaulted and Pursued Chastity” are closely related texts. Both follow the trials of a young woman left alone to travel through a dangerous world while fending off lecherous attacks from a predatory male figure. Yet despite these broad similarities, the pair has not received a great deal of critical attention, perhaps due to the seemingly fundamental differences between the two texts: while Milton’s pastoral masque features classical allusions and meticulous verse, Cavendish’s prose romance mixes allegory and travel narrative with cannibals and cross-dressing. Nonetheless, this paper will show that reading these two texts together reveals how each author approached the representational problems of chastity and feminine embodiment. Both texts present the power of chastity as an external force with internal origins, which requires a translation through the body that also makes evident the difficulty of representing an embodied woman’s interior.

Since Cavendish has no actual physical body to deal with, as her text was never meant for performance, she can engage the elasticity of her heroine’s identity to accommodate the demands of chastity’s outward translation. Such a malleable approach, however, is not available to Milton, as stricter generic confines and the circumstances of his masque’s performance constrain his representational flexibility. Thus, as sympathetic as he may be to the Lady’s vulnerable position, Alice Egerton cannot be so easily reshaped, and Milton struggles to translate her internal experience of chastity into the dangerous external world in a way that is not distorted by the seemingly unavoidable sexualization of her female body. We should not necessarily read this, I argue, as Milton’s acquiescence to the dynamics of his patriarchal culture, but rather as a rare instance where Milton meets a problem of literary representation he cannot solve, despite his best attempts.

Owen Kane

Imagining Arctic Worlds in Milton and Cavendish

I propose to consider how arctic imagery features in the poetic geography of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World. Drawing on recent scholarship by Michael Bravo, Jen Rose Smith, and Steve Mentz, I will show that Milton and Cavendish’s distinct poetic geographies contribute to upending fictions about the North as a blank, contemplative space. Writers developed a unique poetics of a cold climate that established the grounds for the flourishing of English civility in an environment thought to be foreign and hostile to it. My presentation will read familiar literary tropes regarding winter, ice, and cold together with emerging scientific and religious thought drawn from accounts by George Best, Luke Foxe, Thomas Ellis, Robert Boyle, and other early modern English writers who projected the Arctic as “meta incognita” or the “unknown shore.” Milton and Cavendish will be shown to each engage these accounts in imaginatively different ways critical of the optimistic science guiding the English voyage narratives’ project of circumscribing the North. Cavendish’s depiction of the North Pole and Milton’s polar metaphors establish the Arctic as a populated, abundant poetic geography in contrast to the fictional binary of empty landscape versus weather extremes. If time allows, I will make reference to Milton’s “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity” and A Brief History of Moscovia and Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies. The presentation ultimately seeks out what forms of civility and nationhood were seen to be possible in the early modern arctic, answering the question: how did early modern English authors impose order on a landscape that resisted interpretive mapping because of its apparent lack of anything?

Mattea Scheiber Koon

Against Analogy: Suppressing Similitude in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Cavendish’s Blazing World

This paper situates Milton across from Cavendish and Descartes in a trajectory charting the transformation of analogy. It presents analogy as a mode of thought, a ‘sensibility’ that Foucault and Eliot identify as a casualty of modernity. Both Milton and Cavendish, following Descartes’ example in his Discourse on Method, construct realms inhospitable to analogy. Cavendish’s Blazing World is free of figurative language and the comparative mode it demands. Her characters and their environment are incomparable and, she implies, unlike anything ever created. Similarly, Milton’s vision of heaven in Paradise Lost dispenses with comparison. Analogy, with its golden chain of similitudes, binds the celestial and earthly realms. Satan climbs these links, threatening divine sovereignty. Milton, in his rejection of analogy, develops a unidirectional mode, foreclosing the potential for upward mobility and reasserting the downward condescension central to his vision of divine accommodation.

Andrew Brown

Another Flood of Tears: Climate Feelings and Paradise Lost

As institutional frameworks for responding to climate change shift from prevention to partial and uneven mitigation, many commentators have stressed the need to manage not only its material causes but also its emerging emotional effects on the young people who will experience it most fully. What we might call these “climate feelings” include both the relatively familiar phenomenon of climate anxiety (steadily on the rise among children and youths) as well as the more ambiguous states of hope, grief, anger, despair, and personal or collective determination. This presentation will examine how the final books of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, in which the archangel Michael gives Adam a vision of humanity’s future that extends to the time of the Great Flood, can be illuminated by the distinctively modern category of climate feelings—and how our own ways of thinking about ecological crisis might be reshaped by this early modern poem in turn. My discussion will focus on two elements of the text. First, it will consider how the complex temporality of these events (which exist in Milton and the reader’s own past, Adam’s distant future, and something else altogether for the poet’s God) shares parallels with the temporal absurdity of climate destruction, recently described by the subtitle of Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement (2016) as “unthinkable.” And second, it will explore how Paradise Lost figures Adam himself as a spectator and auditor of these cascading crises, with the fresh emergence of his consciousness (as highlighted by Timothy Harrison in Coming To: Consciousness and Natality in Early Modern England, 2020) and his emotional responses providing a therapeutic model for Milton’s own readers.

Ben Faber

‘Outrage from lifeless things’: Theodicy and the Anthropogenic Effects of the Fall in Paradise Lost

Is God just in punishing creation for the disobedience of Adam and Eve? The poem prompts the reader to ask this very question when the angels sing of the Creator “Just are thy ways, / Righteous are thy decrees on all thy works” (10.643-644) immediately before the narrator describes the catastrophic changes to the cosmos (10.651-714). With theodicy elsewhere in the poem predicated on the free will and rationality of angelic and human agents, it follows that actants without volition and reason are not morally responsible and, therefore, are not justly punishable: the “Outrage”, “Discord”, or “fierce antipathy” (10.707-709) of all living and lifeless things does not seem to meet the poem’s own standard of “Sufficient penalty” (10.753). The question of theodicy in relation to the environmental effects of the fall is further complicated by Milton’s monist belief in creation ex deo. By drawing attention to key passages regarding creation in On Christian Doctrine and Paradise Lost, I will argue that the existential changes to the natural world, consequent to the fall of Adam and Eve, cannot be justified within the ontological and moral framework of the poem.

Jennifer Lewin

Dreaming, Nostalgia, and Affect in Milton’s Epics

The dreams of both Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Son in Paradise Regained establish the inseparability of conceptual knowledge of good and evil from bodily experiences, and, moreover, the close connection between these two categories and those of memory and nostalgia. Building on formative readings of Book 4 across several decades, I read both Eve’s dream and Adam’s interpretation of the event through the lens of affect theory, which fosters an understanding of the moments’ crucial and complex interplay between emotion, morality, and reason.. In the second part of the paper, I suggest that Paradise Regained also harnesses the power of dreams to argue for the phenomenon’s significance in the text as a conduit between mind and body that establishes a desirable union of thought and action.

Carla Baricz

“Ion Budai-Deleanu’s Gypsiad: Rewriting Paradise Lost as Mock Epic”

This paper proposes to examine the influence of John Milton’s Paradise Lost on Ion Budai-Deleanu’s eighteenth-century mock-epic, the Țiganiada, or The Gypsiad. Budai-Deleanu (1760-1820), the son of a Greek-Catholic priest from Hunedoara, in the Grand Principality of Transylvania, was himself a priest and a graduate of the philosophy and theology faculties at the University of Vienna, from which he also earned a doctorate in law. After leaving the priesthood, he spent most of his life in exile in Lvov, Galicia as a secretary to a Habsburg provincial tribunal. His Țiganiada (1800-1812) is a twelve-canto epic poem set in the fifteenth century, which satirizes the war between the Turks, led by Mehmed II, and the Christians in the Romanian Principality of Wallachia, including the titular Rroma, led by Vlad III. This paper proposes to explore Budai-Deleanu’s reworking of elements of Paradise Lost—such as the council of the devils in PL’s Book II and the war in heaven in PL’s Book VI—to enrich the satire that forms the basis of his critique of Wallachia’s and the other Romanian principalities’ failed attempts at political unification both in the fifteenth century and in the nineteenth century, when the poem was written.

Amina Gabrielova

Miltonic Motifs by Russians Lermontov and Vrubel

This paper examines striking textual parallels between Paradise Lost, the poems by Mikhail Lermontov (1814–1841) and paintings by Mikhail Vrubel (1856–1910) as case studies of sorts on the fascination for Milton’s Satan on the part of Russian artists, which has been insufficiently explored. Russian poets from Pushkin to the Symbolists slowly internalized Satan under the name of Demon, a lesser evil spirit, as a character less monumental and more intimate, closer to human scale. In Russian tradition, this character is not so much an “enemy” of humankind and a “Prince of darkness,” but rather a rebellious and doubting recluse. This is particularly clear with the protagonist of Lermontov’s narrative poem “The Demon: An Eastern Tale” and Demon, represented in multiple versions and media by Vrubel. Vrubel considered Lermontov one of his favorite poets and created three major paintings of Demon and a set of illustrations for Lermontov’s poem. His works reflect a complex interplay of good and evil in the human soul, and a world in a state of incompletion, transition, and metamorphosis. This exploration demonstrates the possibilities for new artistic and cosmological paradigms for the interpretation of Miltonic tradition.

Miklós Péti

North by Northeast – Hungarian Versions of Milton’s Brief History of Moscovia in the Communist Era and the Present Day

One of Milton’s lesser-known works, A Brief History of Moscovia had enjoyed curious popularity in communist Hungary. Barely a decade after the 1956 revolution Miklós Szenczi, the foremost Hungarian authority on Milton in the post-war era, published a study entitled ‘Milton on Russia’ in The New Hungarian Quarterly with a Russian version of the same text published simultaneously in the volume ‘Russko-evropeiskie literaturnye svyazi’. In this article Szenczi not only provided a measured and up-to-date appraisal of Anglo-American and Russian scholarship on Milton’s work, but also offered new interpretations of some of its particulars (e.g. Milton’s description of an envoy and its possible visual parallel in a painting from the early seventeenth century in the holdings of the Hungarian National Museum). In 1975, Szenczi again turned his attention to the Brief History when he included two brief excerpts from the work in his anthology of Milton’s prose. Almost 50 years after Szenczi’s pioneering attempt, in 2022, I ventured to translate the entire text of the Brief History of Moscovia to Hungarian. The translation, including an extended commentary, will be published in 2023 at around the time of the Thirteenth International Milton Symposium. Just like Szenczi, I was partly prompted by the world historical situation, and, on a more general level, by the interest to explore how Milton’s work matters for the present. But will Milton’s ‘Moscovia’ read differently in the 21st century than during communism? Will Szenczi’s concerns be reflected in the new translation or will they be replaced by a set of new interpretive issues? Even more importantly, will differences in interpretation have an impact on the Hungarian reception of Milton’s other works (most notably, Paradise Lost)? In this paper I will try to answer these questions by contrasting Szenczi’s interpretation of Milton’s Brief History of Moscovia with my own humble effort, reflecting on the different cultural and political contexts of the two translations in the process.

Thomas E. Mussio

​​”Ingrates” and Ingratitude in Paradise Lost and G.B. Marino’s Adone

​In this paper four parallel scenes having to do with ingratitude in Giambattista Marino’s 1623 epic poem, Adone, and Paradise Lost are examined in order to suggest Milton’s broad engagement with Marino’s poem and to show that for Milton gratitude defines the proper relation of created beings toward God and that ingratitude is central to Satan’s and Adam’s and Eve’s falls. The scenes are: Satan’s apostrophe to Adam and Eve as he ponders them from the Tree of Life, Adonis’ apostrophe to Venus from a tree in Venus’ garden when he sees her with her former lover, Mars, Amor’s castigating words to Psyche from a cypress tree as he abandons her because of her breach of his command, and God’s words about Adam and Eve predicting their fall as he sees Satan approaching paradise.

Francisco Nahoe

Reforming Petrarch: Milton’s Italian Verse

The Italian verse of Milton consists of just six poems: five sonnets and the single stanza of a canzone. Though later in life the poet will celebrate conjugal love in Book IV of Paradise Lost (1667) and in Sonnet XXIII “Methought I saw my late espousèd saint” (1673), in 1645 Milton proffers his lyric of erotic desire in the Italian language alone. His choice is both unusual and entirely fitting. How did Milton, born in Cheapside, acquire Italian at such an elevated level of proficiency?

The whole of our poet’s education, first in the private tuition arranged by his father at home and then at St Paul’s, progressed by imitating the best writers of antiquity. We may consider the explicitly Petrarchist style of Milton’s Italian verse, therefore, as constituting a special illustration of the poet’s fundamental convictions about composition. The Secretary for Foreign Tongues, must function as a polemicist, routinely crossing linguistic frontiers whensoever the genre requires it. In this respect, the Italian verse of Milton — in which the poet responds in a strania favella to the demands of love — represents an early occurrence of a similar effort on the part of the Commonwealth rhetor who likewise answers the challenges of European censure by exploiting the plurilingual resources of Renaissance humanism. Most of all, the Italian verse gives us an early glimpse of the systematic reformation of Petrarchist poetics that Milton undertakes in his later verse in English. Perhaps because Petrarchan values came to England directly from Italian sources, Milton decides to reform petrarchismo first in Italian. Milton’s Italian verse attempts in miniature a moral reformation of the whole genre of love poetry itself.

Giulio Pertile

Milton and Seventeenth-Century Italian Poetry

While Milton’s debt to medieval and to sixteenth-century Italian poetry—and in particular to Dante, Petrarca, Della Casa, and Tasso—has long been recognized, his relationship to his Italian contemporaries has drawn much less attention. Yet as a visitor to the Italian accademie in 1638 and 1639, and above all as a guest of Giovanni Manso at the Accademia degli Oziosi in Naples, Milton would undoubtedly have encountered not only neo-Latin poetry but also Italian poetry written by his contemporaries—in particular Giambattista Marino, described as “sweet-voiced” in the poem to Manso ( Mansus). Seventeenth-century Italian verse remains little known outside of Italy and it has been easy to assume that the English Puritan Milton would have viewed it as decadent. In this paper I wish to challenge that assumption by looking at Milton’s poetry in relation to that of Marino, Girolamo Fontanella, Girolamo Preti, and several others, focusing in particular on the Italianate treatment of Creation—both the Biblical narrative and the created universe itself. I will suggest that in poets such as Marino and Preti Milton would have found inspiration for his “vitalist materialism”, and in particular for the lush style which is crucial to its literary rendering.

Antoinina Bevan Zlatar

Picturing the Son of God in Paradise Lost

In the debates about the uses and dangers of images in worship sparked by the Reformation, pictures of Christ, the Son of God, were controversial if less heinous than pictures of God the Father. Whereas Zwingli allowed portraits of the historical man Jesus, Calvin and the author of the influential Homily against the Peril of Idolatrie argued that pictures of Christ traduced the unrepresentable divinity of the Son of God and should thus be subjected to iconoclastic reform. With the Christological focus of the re-embellishment of English churches in the 1620s and 1630s, the visual representation of the Son of God once again provoked Puritan opprobrium on the eve of the Civil Wars.

Seeking to continue an exploration of the visual poetics of Paradise Lost and an interrogation of the label ‘Puritan’ for Milton the poet, this paper traces the contours of Milton’s representation of the Son of God in his epic. Taking my cue from De Doctrina Christiana where Milton isolates visibility as a key aspect of the Son in relation to the invisible Father, I will focus on Raphael’s portrayal of the Son in the War in Heaven, the ‘shape’ or ‘presence Divine’ who appears in Adam’s account of his creation in Book VIII, and ‘the sovereign presence’ who, ‘less conspicuous’, judges Adam, Eve after the Fall and then clothes their nakedness in Book X. To tease out the theological implications of Milton’s choices in these scenes, I will compare his word pictures with the rich English and continental pictorial evocations of these episodes where the Creator or Judge is shown either as the Father or the Son.

Heather James

Milton’s God and the Problem of Personification

Allegorical personification is a well-known and studied problem in Milton’s Paradise Lost. But it has largely been confined to the scene of Satan meeting Sin and Death in Book 2 (as well as their reappearance in Book 10) and the War of the Angels in Book 6. What has not received the attention it deserves is the personification of deity in Book 3, which critics understandably regard as profoundly dissatisfying. I suggest, however, that it is a critical mistake to attribute the poetic “failure” of God’s speech in Book 3 to deficits of character. My claim is the virtual opposite: to anthropomorphize God is to fail to see past the limitations of allegorical personification. Milton evolves the allegory of Sin and Death in Book 2 in preparation for a further consideration in Book 3: what does it mean to limit and even subject the representation of God to the human-centered rhetorical trick of personification?

Milton’s God in Book 3 is wildly ungracious. He is ungracious in fairly precise proportion to his anthropomorphized form. Personification, Milton suggests, dooms readers to see Him as a tyrant, who lives down to Satan’s deeply self-centered perspective and recalls the usurper-kings in Shakespearean history plays. Yet Milton’s God emerges, in the end, not the poem’s chief tyrant but instead as its greatest republican. This aspect of his divinity, which is obscured by his personified form, is visible in His acts and creativity. This aspect of Milton’s God emerges forcefully in Books 5 and 7.

Noam Reisner

Rethinking Milton’s Pauline-Hebraic God

This paper will argue that many of the perceived problems in Milton’s representation of deity in Paradise Lost can be reconciled in the wider context of Milton’s deeply Pauline renegotiation of Hebraic biblical tropes. I claim that Milton’s occasional Hebraism when reimagining the biblical God extends from his deeper reading in the Hebraic-Hellenic Paul, who then emerges in light of Milton’s creative exegesis as a distinct Miltonic ur-figure of rational inspiration quite apart from the Augustinian-Lutheran traditions. Milton arrives at this conception of God in the poem, much as he does in De Doctrina, through strict adherence to an imaginative model of Scripture, rigorously and rationally interpreted without “sophistries”, expressing what he believed to be the one true sense of God’s Word. Moreover, as with the discussion of man’s possible and permissible knowledge of God, the emerging antitrinitarianism of Milton’s thought, explicit in De Doctrina, implicit in Paradise Lost, ultimately extends not just from his desire to confront his readers with complex ethical choices of interpretation, but chiefly from his didactic need to present his readers with a model act of unconstrained, redemptive free will. The Son for Milton, although as yet not incarnated, has to be different from God, because he already embodies potential human nature in a state of perfection. As is well known, Milton sets before his readers, on one side, the Hebraic tonality and idiom of God’s Old Testament majestic presence, demanding satisfaction for man’s trespass, and on the other side the Son’s comforting words of mercy, steeped in the New Testament’s language of redemption. Milton’s Pauline outlook, however, seeks to convert the literalism of the Abrahamic covenant into a metaphor of grace, for which the Son becomes both the tenor and the vehicle. It is within this fertile scope for unique Pauline metaphors of deity that are in fact deeply Hebraic at the source that Milton’s poetic biblical vision comes to life. In this way, Milton seeks to restore God the Father to his Hebraic integrity in order to save him from scholastic trinitarian sophistries and Lutheran animosity for what he believed was a pristine form of Pauline Reformed Christianity.

Amrita Dhar

The Collaborative, Participatory, Amanuensistic Authorship of Milton’s Blind Poetic Language

This paper argues that Milton’s blind poetic language—the poetry created in the partial and final blindness of the last several decades of Milton’s life; poetry that includes the landmark achievements of Paradise Lost (1667), Paradise Regained (1671), and Samson Agonistes (1671)—is essentially, because necessarily, the product of a collaborative, participatory, and amanuensistic process and exchange. Drawing on contemporary disability studies and especially our understanding of collective access, this presentation offers that in our centuries-long revering of Milton’s grand and epic language, we have been attending to a blind language that is born of a blind poetic labour dependent on and activating networks of care, collaboration, and far-reaching aesthetic consequences. I read select aspects of Milton’s final long poetic works and draw on Milton’s self-anthologized Epistolarum Familiarium Liber Unus (published 1674, shortly before Milton’s death) to recognize the named and (mostly) unnamed contributions of Milton’s first and immediate fit audience though few, in whose penmanship and voices the poetry of Milton’s most enduring works first came into being, first came to be heard, recorded, read, re-read, intonated, edited, and finalised. With a marking of authorial, editorial, and scribal meticulousness in Milton’s blind verse, I present an exposition of the fundamentally co-writerly process through which Milton’s last long poetry was created, and claim for Milton’s daughters, students, and amanuenses something of the credit for birthing this poetry. Finally, I lay out some of the similarly collaborative engagement and embodied appreciation through which this verse continues to find meaning in and enrich our own world.

Matthew Mullin

Milton’s Monstrous Self-Fashioning

One of the impacts of the Scientific Revolution was a marked change in the meanings of “deformity” and “monstrosity” during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. From Francis Bacon’s novel theories on the nature of physical impairment, to Montaigne’s conception of himself as monstrously conjoined to his Essais, to Milton’s self-fashioning as an aberrant and portentous exemplar of the classical/biblical blind-seer, the period was rich with discussions on the nature of physical deformity and monstrosity. Through these writings, and the changes in science and political philosophy that engendered, supported, or challenged them, early moderns and their descendants came to understand impairment, disability, and normativity in ways much different than their medieval forebears.

My paper will argue that John Milton indeed saw his physical impairments as making him a monster of sorts, but that Milton repurposed the language of his detractors, who called him (negatively) monstrous, within both the newer paradigms generated by the Scientific Revolution’s ongoing (material and polemical) discussion of monstrosity, as well as older classical and biblical paradigms that linked monstrous physicality to supernatural power. First, I will summarize the shifts in the connotations of “the monstrous” from 1550-1660, noting especially the scientific and polemical/political importance of these shifts. Then, I will discuss how Milton, looking to strengthen his arguments and his self-image, repurposes and blends contemporary scientific and polemical discussions of monstrosity with classical and biblical paradigms whereby he is made even more sanctified through his physical impairments. Finally, I will argue that Milton’s approach to his impairments can teach us something about how to understand modern disability terms, particularly the concepts of the “supercrip”, “passing”, and “stigma”.

Jeff Rohner-Tensee

Escaping Eden: Milton’s Demonstration of Critical Disability Theory in Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost is a record of Milton’s struggle with increasing disability and his eventual realization that disability can have a great positive effect on an individual. The five fallen angels as well as Sin and Death have been argued previously by George Fox (1957) to represent the seven deadly sins. Building upon this, I will reveal that the seven deadly sins are also part of Milton’s response to his increasing blindness.

Speaking from the vantage point of someone with a physical disability, I am likewise working through many of the same frustrations that Milton must have experienced. It has become evident to me that the demonic of Paradise Lost embodies the varied emotional response to sudden disability, that Milton must have wrestled with.

We find the sublime in Milton’s writing, as he moves beyond all his negative responses within the text and points the reader forward with hope. That a paradise can be created within thee, greater by farr. But he does much more than just suggest hope, he gives practical instruction on how an individual, disabled from conventional society can benefit from their exodus from Eden. I will be discussing how Milton has, in Paradise Lost, foreseen the seven tenets of social disability theory. He suggests specific ways an individual with a physical limitation is disabled by society and more importantly, he points forward to ways in which a person with a physical limitation can escape the restrictions of the ever-elusive perfect place.

The paper that I’m proposing to present will outline in detail how Paradise Lost is a celebration of physical limitation and that it provides a window into Milton’s own struggle with and eventual conquering of disability.

Shaun Ross

“Where Strength Can Least Abide”: Hair and Disenchantment in Milton’s Imagination

Milton’s late closet drama Samson Agonistes opens with the protagonist’s lament. Betrayed by his lover, shorn of his hair, and blinded by his enemies, Samson dejectedly considers the divine logic of locating his former herculean power in such an apparently arbitrary bodily feature. Samson concludes: “God, when he gave me strength, to shew withal / How slight the gift was, hung it in my Hair” (58-59). For Samson, hair, read rightly, ought to have pointed to the relative unimportance of his strength in comparison with other kinds of virtue. (As he says just a few lines earlier “But what is strength without a double share/ Of wisdom?” 53-4).

In Paradise Lost, however, hair seems to have just the opposite connotations, as it serves as the most important physical characteristic distinguishing Adam from Eve. Rather than give a physical taxonomy of gender based on genitals (perhaps the obvious choice), or size, or strength, Milton uses descriptions of hair to highlight the differences between the first male and female. Adam’s “Hyacinthin Locks / Round from his parted forelock manly hung/ Clustring, but not beneath his shoulders broad” (301-3), while Eve’s “unadorned golden tresses” drape “down to the slender waste…Disheveld” (304-6). This paper will consider these alongside several other representations of hair in Milton’s oeuvre, arguing that they reflect a wider tension in his work between:

  1. a desire to “naturalize” certain hierarchies or ethical frameworks in the structures of the cosmos or the body, and
  2. a mistrust of the notion that any meaning could reside in any material object or structure.
By tracing this tension, this paper will add further nuance to ongoing discussions about Milton’s place in the longer history of secularization and disenchantment.

Brayden Tate

Desiring Apocalypse, Desiring Revolution: The Veil in Paradise Lost

Milton uses the image of the veil throughout Paradise Lost. He uses it in the “invocation to light” at the beginning of Book 3: “So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs, / Or dim suffusion veiled” (3.25-25). To describe how the “glorious brightness” of God makes “brightest Serephim / Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes” (3.381-2). He uses it when Satan spots Eve alone and “Veiled in a cloud of fragrance” in Book 9 (9.425). Milton also uses it to describe Eve’s hair: “She as a veil down to the slender waist / Her unadorned golden tresses wore” (4.304-5). Lastly, he uses the image to describe Adam and Eve’s prelapsarian state, a state they had just lost due to eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge: “innocence, that as a veil / Had shadowed them from knowing ill, was gone” (9.1054-55).

The image of the veil has strong biblical precedent. It is an image often used to distinguish the law from the gospel. For example, 2 Corinthians states that

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside . . . Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:12-18 NRSV).

John Calvin explains that, here, Paul distinguishes the law from the gospel thus: “the brightness of the [law] rather dazzled men’s eyes, than enlightened them, while in the [gospel], Christ’s glorious face is clearly beheld” ( Commentaries on Corinthians). Because the previous manifestation of God’s glory happened prior to the gospel, it inspired a spirit of fear and bondage, a spirit that Milton consistently denounced as contrary to the confidence and liberty of being an adopted son of God. However, for reformers like Calvin and Milton, this veil also remained in their time due to Catholics and their sympathisers’ supposed undermining of this confidence and liberty. This paper seeks to provide a reason for why Milton uses this central image of the law in his epic describing a prelapsarian world, a world where natural law ruled the hearts of humanity ( DDC 1.26). By doing so, I will attempt to argue that Milton’s use of the veil operates as reminder to his readers that hopes for religious and political revolution, for the tearing away of Christendom’s veil that would release them from the spirit of bondage and fear, are not altogether vanquished.

John Ladd

Milton’s Uncertain Data

From angelic messengers to the Tree of Knowledge, Paradise Lost has long been acknowledged as overwhelmingly concerned with sources of knowledge and engaged with 17th-century scientific discourse on the subject. But recent shifts in contemporary thought make this concern newly relevant: we are as obsessed with sources of knowledge in our contemporary moment as Milton and his contemporaries were in theirs, but our obsession revolves around the concept of data. Data as a term and a concept in English finds its origins in the 17th-century, and these atomic pieces of information suggest much about the human capacity for obtaining, storing, and organizing knowledge.

As I will demonstrate in this brief paper, Milton is interested not only in a large-scale debate about the nature of knowledge, but also in the ways in which observations become knowledge through a process now recognizable as data gathering and analysis. Far from being a scientizing tool of total certainty in our own time or Milton’s, in Paradise Lost this process is full of uncertainty and doubt at every turn. Milton places the processes of knowledge creation at the very center of his epic project, and in doing so he calls our attention to the ways that managing uncertainty is a central part of working with data from his time to our own.

With characteristic anxious subtlety, Milton attempts to manage the pressures and contradictions of data-focused uncertainty, particularly in Paradise Lost. The poem takes up a number of thematic and formal gestures toward seventeenth-century scientific discourse, from discussions of infinitude and the infinitesimal to experiments with unusual syntactic forms. And these gestures can be made more legible by using computational methods to highlight overlooked word-, line-, and sentence-level features of Milton’s verse. Employing a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, I aim to show that Milton’s understanding of the precarity of knowledge is rooted in a complex engagement with data of various forms.

Jonathan Olson

Numerological Criticism and Milton’s Rejection of Number Symbolism

The school of Milton critics who, since the 1960s, pursued the discovery and explication of number symbolism within Paradise Lost occupy an uncertain place in Milton studies. Although practitioners of this avenue of interpretation include some of the most prominent Milton scholars of their generation, such as Alastair Fowler and John Shawcross, their “numerological” criticism is sometimes overlooked politely by fellow Miltonists who find this corner of their work suspect. A notable imbalance in much of the numerological criticism by Miltonists is a discrepancy between extensive historical scholarship on the tradition of number symbolism in classical, medieval, and even early modern literary texts, and the comparatively limited value of the results when this tradition of analysis is then trained on Milton’s poetry in particular. This paper argues that the theoretical and methodological errors that produced and reproduced this imbalance were accidental consequences of the historical origin of post-1960 numerological criticism: the expectation to find in Milton’s works number symbolism comparable to that which previous (and often the same) scholars had discovered more successfully in the works of poets such as Dante and Spenser.

The harmony of the spheres is a recurrent motif in Milton’s oeuvre, and in both his poetry and prose Milton appeals to the related concept of proportion to make political, theological, and cosmological arguments. The “neopythagorean” tradition from which both concepts derive also extols number symbolism and frequently combines them. Thus many Miltonists who explicate this tradition seem to be justified in discussing Milton’s use of harmony and proportion in his poetry in the same breath as discussing number symbolism. But, despite historical precedents and attestations by other poets, this collocation of two discrete uses of numbers—number as a means of measurement versus the semantic associations connoted by particular integers—confuses a distinction that Milton, in line with some contemporaries, sought to make. The numerological interpretations of Milton’s poetry have perhaps inadvertently hindered analysis of Milton’s deep engagement with proportion in his poems by unnecessarily tying the latter to a method of analysis that is antithetical to Milton’s understanding and use of number.

Matthew Turnbull

Augustinian Semiosis in Satan’s Soliloquies

At two points in Book Four of Paradise Lost, Milton depicts Satan in semiosis. First, in the Niphates “Farewell” soliloquy, Satan looks up to the “full-blazing Sun” and compares it to the “God / Of this new World” whose brightness causes all the Stars to “hide their diminisht heads” (IV:32, 35). From the Sun’s effulgence and its effects upon lesser heavenly lights, Satan is led to think of something else: the beams of the Sun remind him “from what state / [he] fell” (38-39). As a lesser light, Satan aspired through “Pride and worse Ambition” to raise himself equal with the Son (40). Realizing his brute culpability, in the ensuing soliloquy Satan debates the feasibility of repentance. But the whole train of Satan’s thought begins with an act of semiosis: the glory and exalted position of the Sun functions as a sign to Satan. Later, when Satan leaps over the wall of the Garden and first beholds Adam and Eve, Milton describes another moment of semiosis. While none of the delightful beauties of the Garden delighted the Fiend, the “naked Majesty” of two noble creatures signified for Satan their maker (IV:290). The “Divine resemblance” in Adam and Eve causes Satan unwillingly to “wonder” at them, even almost to love them (364, 363). Despite his hardened intention, the first human beings signify; Satan momentarily sees God and is awed.

While Gabriella Giorno examines the nature of signification in Paradise Lost, her study centers on Adam’s and Eve’s dialogues and monologues, not Satan’s. Similarly, while Katherine Calloway briefly addresses Satan’s apostrophe to the Sun, her concern is to show Adam’s distinct, proper approach to the natural world. And while Joshua Held, Diana Treviño Benet, and Neil Forsyth closely examine Satan’s soliloquies in Book IV, they are concerned primarily with Milton’s representation of Satan’s interiority, interaction with conscience, and ambivalence. Most critical approaches do not regard the semiotic dimension of these passages. Those which do approach it from a dyadic, Saussurean model in which semiosis is reduced to the sign-vehicle (the signifiant) and that which it signifies (the signifié). And yet, seventeenth-century intellectuals entertained alternate notions of signification. Writing in Milton’s era, an Iberian scholastic, John of Poinsot, composed his Tractatus de Signis in which he advanced a triadic, Augustinian understanding of semiotics. For Augustine, signification involves a signifier, a signified, and—most crucially—a being for whom the signifier signifies. This paper shows that reading Satan’s soliloquies in Book Four through an Augustinian vision of triadic semiosis elicits additional, critical dimensions of meaning in the text.

Irene Montori

Paradise Lost in Italy: Vincenzo Monti Rewriting Milton’s Creation Narrative

Despite the importance of Italy for Milton’s personal and intellectual formation, strong critical biases have characterized the reception of Milton in Italy between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the homeland of Catholicism and under the strong influence of classicism, Milton’s Paradise Lost seemed too unorthodox and audacious to meet the cultural expectations of Italian readership. While Italian translations and readings of Milton’s epic continued to feature strategies to neutralize its religious and stylistic heterodoxy, the spirit of Romanticism contributed to valuing Milton’s true genius for the freedom of his imagination and style.

Vincenzo Monti’s adaptation of Paradise Lost 7 in his poem La Bellezza dell’Universo (1781) is particularly worthy of notice in this context. Not only was Monti familiar with Milton’s epic, but he also appreciated its vibrant energy and visionary imagination to the extent that he placed the English author next to Homer and Dante (“Discorso preliminare a un Saggio di Poesie,” 1779). Allusions from Ovid and Lucretius to the Scriptures, from hexameral writers to Tasso and Du Bartas abound in La Bellezza dell’Universo, but what is truly significant is the fact that Milton’s account of the creation is the source text for Monti’s epithalamium about the origins of the universe. A comparative analysis of its relation to Paradise Lost 7 shows how Monti’s first half of the poem nearly paraphrases Milton’s creation story through Paolo Rolli’s well-known Italian translation (1730). Monti’s indebtedness to the English epic paves the way for a new appreciation of Milton, finding expression in Ugo Foscolo and Giacomo Leopardi, but it does so by adapting the source text to the specificity and taste of Italian readers.

Gui Nabais Freitas

Portuguese Milton and his Enlightenment Paratexts: Jose Amaro da Silva’s Paraiso Perdido (1789) and Obras da Milton (1819)

While in Paris, 1789 marked a major moment in European political history with the publication of the National Constituent Assembly’s ‘Declaration on the Rights of Man’, in Lisbon a highly significant (if more understated) event occurred in literary history with the first Portuguese translation of Milton’s Paradise Lost appearing in print. José Amaro da Silva’s edition is remarkable not only for its inaugural status, but also for the wide variety of paratextual material (including Joseph Addison’s critique of Paradise Lost and Louis Racine’s notes in his French edition of 1754-55) which it deploys. This paper proposes to re-evaluate Amaro’s translations of Milton’s poetry in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and, in particular, how they use paratexts to confront and react against the growth of Portuguese liberalism within the wider context of European politics. In so doing, it aims to redress Jorge Bastos da Silva’s (2019, 107) lament that, ‘the reception of Milton’s work in Portugal is on the whole underresearched’. Crucially, Amaro’s translations use paratexts (particularly derived from French sources) to frame Milton’s idiosyncratic radicalism in such a way that it can be repurposed to shore up conservative and Catholic orthodoxies within the increasingly fragile Portuguese political settlement of the period.

Although eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Portuguese editions of Milton, especially those compiled by more conservative literary figures, have often been identified as anxious to efface Milton’s political radicalism, instead stressing his universal poetic genius, how their paratextual material operates (and ends up revealing and reformulating tacit political and religious commitments) has been largely neglected. For instance, in the preface to Amaro’s edition, the work’s publisher, Francisco Rolland, evinces his encyclopédiste credentials, stressing how the edition is furnished with ‘muitas Notas Historicas, Mythologicas, e Geograficas’ (‘many historical, mythological and geographical glosses’). Moreover, Rolland not only exults Milton’s poetic craft but specifically recommends his verse as somewhere where ‘se encontra a Moral pura, e a mesma Religiaõ’ (‘one encounters moral purity, and the same with regards to religion’). Throughout Amaro’s edition, as this paper will reveal, paratexts are deployed not only to produce a unique and fascinating moment of reception but also as a self-conscious embrace of scholarly and poetic transmission as a locus for renewed creative inspiration and ideological refashioning. Specifically, Amaro and Rolland draw on Louis Racine’s (poet and son of Jean Racine) edition and commentary to reinscribe Milton’s religious radicalism – mediated, most prominently, by Louis Racine’s Jansenism – to provide new political and religious justifications for Portuguese monarchism.

This paper will also provide new biographical insights into Amaro’s life, who current scholarship identifies as little more than an obscure secular priest from Guimarães, particularly drawing on the two encyclopaedic tracts which he also translated: Compendio historico e universal de todas, as seiencias e artes (1828) and Diccionario philosophico da religião (1820). I will also be the first to place the 1789 volume alongside the 1819 edition of Milton’s shorter poems also translated by Amaro, in the process spanning the entirety of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

Leonard Stein

Rewriting that Peculiar Nation: Comparative Theology in the First Hebrew Translations of Paradise Lost

Among an eclectic scope of world literature reimagined during the nineteenth-century Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), Paradise Lost stands out for challenging the limits of what constitutes Jewish literature. In 1871, Isaac Edward Salkinson, a Belarusian Jew-turned-Presbyterian minister, published in blank verse the first Hebrew translation of the epic as a means to proselytize to secular Jews. Twenty years later, a coin collector in Jerusalem named Samuel Raffalovich published a literary response to Salkinson’s mission: a Paradise Lost in Hebrew prose that firmly asserted, in lengthy footnotes, the rabbinic, Kabbalistic, and Zionist foundations of the English source text. Both translations bridge national, temporal, and religious identities by foregrounding the prophetic voice of an Early Modern Protestant rewriting the Hebrew Bible. Offering new directions in the reception history of Paradise Lost, these texts, while theologically oppositional, both creatively claim Milton as belonging to the Jewish people.

Annabel Barry

“Eden raised in the waste wilderness”: The Temptation of Art in Paradise Regained

I read the banquet in Book II of Paradise Regained to represent the temptation of art. What the Son and the reader alike confront in the banquet scene is not the base temptations of hunger or lust but the more sophisticated—and alluring—temptation of an artistic representation of the natural. Reading the banquet scenes in this way resolves long standing interpretive difficulties about its role in Milton’s thematic and typological design and suggests that this scene deserves more serious attention than it has previously been given. Analogously to Hans Belting’s argument that the breaking of images in Reformation-era iconoclasm made possible the birth of artistic autonomy, the destruction of Eden for Milton makes possible the temptation of an art that could claim to recreate it. In reflecting back upon Milton’s own artistic rendering of Eden in Paradise Lost and anticipating the more widely recognized temptation of classical literature and learning in Book IV of Paradise Regained, the banquet scene implies a surprisingly positive role for the loss of Eden as the birth of human creativity distinct from divine Creation. What we are being warned against at Satan’s banquet is precisely the temptation to downplay human creative power by eliding nature and art. Satan sells the fantasy that the work of art could be a portal returning us to Eden, but it is only in a space apart from Eden that its representation, as opposed to recreation, becomes possible.

Philip Goldfarb Styrt

Milton’s Combative Virtue: The Lady in A Maske

The Lady in John Milton’s A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle is a somewhat paradoxical figure: though she appears to be the heroine of the piece, she spends rather a lot of her time sitting in a chair in the riotous castle of Comus, and does very little in the course of the masque. In fact, critics have largely assumed that she is not merely sitting in Comus’s court but actively trapped: that she is paralyzed, glued, or chained in place, and only saved by the nymph Sabrina and the timely action of her brothers, brought to save her by the Attendant Spirit. There is good reason to think this, since it is precisely the narrative that the Attendant Spirit tells to her brothers in the course of the masque.

In this paper, however, I argue that this widespread interpretation is wrong, and the Attendant Spirit is not telling the truth: that the Lady is not forced to stay in the chair, but chooses to do so in order to engage in a struggle of virtue against evil in order to emerge all the more virtuous after her triumph. Reading the masque this way foregrounds the Lady’s embodiment of virtue, and connects it to Milton’s conceptions of virtue and the knowledge of good and evil expressed in both Areopagitica and Paradise Lost. At the same time, it emphasizes the different experiences of the brothers and their sister in A Maske, showing how the siblings are treated differently by the masque (and by the Attendant Spirit) in order to give each of them the trial that they need—despite the fact that those trials require different understandings of the Lady’s danger. The traditional interpretation of the masque corresponds with the brothers’ understanding, as mediated by the useful lies of the Attendant Spirit. In this paper, I suggest that the Lady’s understanding of herself as voluntarily engaging with the trial of Comus is just as valid, and centers her agency, her strength, and her difference from her brothers.

Tess Grogan

Literary Errancy in Paradise Regained

My paper emerges from the cheeky addendum that Paradise Regained‘s Son of God makes to Satan’s narrative during the Temptation of Rome: “…thou should’st add to tell / Their sumptuous gluttonies… / / (For I have also heard, perhaps have read)” (IV.116). I argue that attending to this apparently lighthearted suggestion has serious implications for our understanding of one of the major cruxes of Milton’s thought: the poet’s well-known discomfort with the Passion. In considering PR’s Son as a kind of reader, it is common to align the Temptation with a basic argument of Areopagitica: by casting the Son’s resistance as born of knowledge, rather than abstinence, Milton simply reinforces his case for the merits of reading suspect material. This is, however, a peculiar way for the Son to suggest his knowledge of Rome’s wine scene, even as a means of flaunting his resistance to it. It would suffice to have said that he “ha[s] also heard”; why add a mention of reading? Why cast that same reading into question (“perhaps”)? In its phrasing, this line gestures not only to wine but to all that this Son “perhaps” has read, especially as imagined by this always-anachronistic poet (the “spires” of Rome; Angelica; “O run, prevent them”). The early modern literary culture from which Milton emerged was concerned above all with exemplarity; the compelling vision of the Son as reader is also a vision of Christ self-fashioning in the way that all Renaissance readers did. In placing his Son within this tradition, Milton provokes us to imagine the literary materials the Son of God had at his disposal in shaping his own death, not only how he was to die but who and what he was to die *like*.

Phillip J. Donnelly

Milton and Ficino: Rethinking Number in Paradise Lost

Although most critics happily ignore the 1667 ten-book edition of Paradise Lost, Milton’s decision to revise the division of his epic to twelve books in 1674 remains a mystery that will not go away. The mystery persists because, regardless which edition any given scholar favors, there remains the need to explain the existence of the other version. Thus, advocates for the importance of the ten-book edition need to explain why Milton bothered, after all, to revise the poem into twelve books; on the other hand, those who emphasize, for example, the Virgilian importance of the twelve-book arrangement need to explain why Milton did not simply begin with that arrangement. Any adequate account needs to address the existence of both versions. I contend that the revision of the poem from ten books to twelve was part of Milton’s intention from the outset—the significance resides not merely in the symbolic meaning of the number ten or the number twelve but in the revelation that results from the transformation of the former into the latter. As unlikely as such a proposal sounds, this account best explains the existence of both editions. The symbolic importance of the transformation from ten to twelve is detailed most famously in Marsilio Ficino’s De Numero Fatali (1496). (This is Ficino’s commentary on the dense numerological passage at the beginning of Book VIII of Plato’s Republic.) Ficino’s text explains how number symbolism is the preferred mode of wisdom-seeking poetry, an issue that Milton arguably addresses in his invocation to Book VII of Paradise Lost. Most notably, Ficino’s text explains how the specific transformation of the number ten into the number twelve serves as a revelation. My argument unfolds in three stages. The first part outlines some key features of the numerological tradition in which Ficino and Milton participate. The second part provides a brief account of Ficino’s text and its claims regarding the symbolic relation between ten and twelve. The final section proposes, in light of these considerations, to answer the question, “What does Milton imply about his epic through making this deliberate change from ten books to twelve?”

Stephen Guy-Bray

Milton’s Transitions

This paper looks at the two short additions to Paradise Lost that Milton made when he turned his ten-book poem into a twelve-book poem. My interest is in how these additions relate to Milton’s general treatment of both time and place and in how they give us information about Milton’s poetics and, especially, the connection between metaphor and movement.

Caitlin Hubbard

“Show it in a play”: How Milton’s Theatricality Inspired the Bold Empiricism of Dryden’s The State of Innocence

Although never performed, John Dryden’s dramatic opera The State of Innocence was wildly popular in both print and manuscript following its appearance in 1674, more popular than Milton’s own poem—certainly prior to Jacob Tonson’s 1688 illustrated edition. Yet even at the time, many saw Dryden’s stage adaptation as an embarrassment—who can forget Marvell’s quip in the 1674 edition of Paradise Lost about “some less skillful hand” presuming to “show it in a play”. This sentiment has remained largely unchanged, although Lara Dodds has done much to revalorize Dryden’s project by highlighting Dryden’s brilliant transformations of Milton’s epic similes into theatrical spectacles. Much of the resistance to Dryden’s opera comes from its reputation as a curious foil to Paradise Lost, a poor attempt to make Milton’s republican, Puritan epic more courtly by retrofitting it into a dramatic opera spoken in heroic couplets. This paper seeks to investigate The State of Innocence as a continuation of, rather than a foil to, Milton’s own project in Paradise Lost, authorized by Milton’s theatricality. Despite his plans for dramatic renditions of the Fall in the 1640s, Milton ultimately rejected the genre of drama—it was too limiting; The State of Innocence, which required the mass-contraction of Milton’s layered nuance, is proof in point. Yet, as Brendan Prawdzik has argued, while Milton may have rejected drama as the genre for Paradise Lost, throughout his career he employed the rhetorical strategy of theatricality, framing human actions as acts of theater. Theatricality transcends genre, and Dryden not only transported Milton’s theatrical frames into his opera, but made the theatricality of knowledge-acquisition a central concern of his adaptation.

Milton maintained throughout his career—from The Reason of Church-Government to Samson Agonistes—that theater has educational utility, a belief grounded in his understanding that people learn, and theater teaches, through sense perception. In Paradise Lost, Milton’s trust in theater as an effective instructional method can be seen in how Michael teaches Adam and Eve through a series of dramatic scenes—scenes which, as John G. Demaray has shown, Milton originally planned for his various biblical dramas in the Trinity Manuscript.

The State of Innocence is a boldly empiricist reworking of Paradise Lost. Dryden’s belief that humans rely on the sense organs for all knowledge necessitated the change in genre from epic to dramatic opera. Moreover, Dryden presents the fallibility of those sense organs as the prelapsarian flaw in man’s creation that ultimately leads to the Fall. While Dryden’s insistence on both the necessity and fallibility of the human sense organs is more emphatic than Milton’s, Dryden uses Milton’s theatricality as the foundation upon which he makes his intervention, doubling down on the presentation of Adam and particularly Eve as spectacles turned spectators in their ill-advised quest for knowledge. Above all, Dryden takes on the role of Milton’s Michael, teaching knowledge and self-awareness to his postlapsarian audience via the sensorially edifying medium of theater.

Samuel Bozoukov

The Temptations of Milton’s Lady and Eve: Listening as Poetic Activity

This paper explores the question of Milton’s aurality through Roland Barthes’s essays “Écoute” (1966) and “The Structuralist Activity” (1964). Though Barthes’s work might initially seem incongruous with Milton’s, I propose that Barthes’s aesthetics of listening can help articulate new resonances between the oft-compared temptation scenes of A Maske (1634) and Paradise Lost (1674). While both Milton’s Lady and Eve listen to refashion the words of their tempters, the former practices what Barthes calls second-level, hermeneutic listening, underscoring her ability to hear and decipher a higher calling. By contrast, Eve ushers in third-level, psychoanalytic listening in discoursing with the serpent, engaging in a periphrastic dance of listening by invoking, but not naming, the forbidden fruit. In the evolution from Milton’s Lady to Eve, we hear what is reflected historically in the difference between second- and third-level listening: a movement towards modernity. This paper concludes by asking whether this shift can tell us anything about how Milton listened in his poetic craft.

John Leonard

Reading Paradise Lost aloud

The proposed paper could work in the rhetoric section or the blindness and disability one. It is a paper unlike any I have delivered before, since its immediate cause is my own recent disability. In 2020 I lost my sight. While cataract surgery restored my distance vision, I still have difficulty with books. After a long career as a Miltonist, I am staring down the possibility that I might no longer be able to conduct traditional research. But Milton is still a central part of my life and I have tried to adapt by finding a new project — a recording of myself reading Paradise Lost aloud. My hope is to make it available online with visual aids to bring the poem alive for students (and others) encountering the poem for the first time. My paper would discuss my experience in doing this, and give clips of the online project, which will utilize Western University’s world class Milton collection. My paper would address some interpretative questions that I discussed in my book Faithful Labourers. In particular, I shall revisit the questions of 1) what is the right reading pace for the poem? and 2) is Paradise Lost a dramatic epic, where each character has his or her own voice or should we (as C. S. Lewis argued) subordinate dramatic effects to the controlling voice of the epic narrator? My recording will be complete by the time of IMS, but the visual side of the project will still be a work in progress so I shall value any feedback from the Milton community.

Tessie Prakas

“Heard or learnt”: Milton’s Amateur Listeners

While Paradise Lost is Milton’s most dramatic exploration of how knowledge relates to experience, he is not much less dramatic in claiming that the right education “fits a man to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously” in almost any undertaking. “Of Education” presents “universal insight” as the reward for mastering both theoretical and applied learning. In distinguishing between reading “the laws … of a true epic poem” and the poetic texts that have—or have not—followed those laws, Milton emphasizes that students need both if they are themselves to become “able writers and composers in every excellent matter.” As he shifts his focus from study to recreational “exercise,” though, Milton seems at once to maintain and to abandon this trajectory. Wearied students, he proposes, might productively set about “recreating and composing their travailed spirits with the solemn and divine harmonies of music heard or learnt.” How exactly should we understand “learnt” here? The word suggests a kind of focused application more aligned with the study that taxes their spirits to begin with, an attentive listening that will render the music familiar. Does such learning also involve reading musical notation, or becoming able not only to hear music but also expertly to perform it? Milton’s subsequent elaboration would suggest not; “hearing or learning” occurs while a performance is given by an artist who is already “skillful”—and does not lead to the learner becoming an artist in turn. Rather, it involves the learner’s subjection to the “great power” that music has “over dispositions and manners, to smooth and make them gentle.” Milton’s poetry offers numerous examples of that power, from Orpheus’s song to that of the Lady in Comus. In many of these examples, notably, music exerts a positive influence because its listeners are unfamiliar with the sounds that they hear. Their susceptibility depends in part upon their inexpertise—and, crucially, does not bring them to transcend that inexpertise. While Milton makes it clear that they are altered by the experience of listening, he just as clearly sets bounds to their alteration. Milton’s treatment of music, then, defines a model of appreciation distinct from the acquisition of expert knowledge, a model that we might term that of the amateur. What value does that model have for an author famed for his commitment to moving past amateurism—that is, to self-improvement in both moral and aesthetic terms; to learning to “prefer that which is truly better”?

Wendy Furman-Adams

“The Fruit of that Forbidden Tree”: Contemporary Artists Reading Genesis and Paradise Lost

In March 2020, Los Angeles art gallery Bridge Projects opened “To Bough and to Bend.” The show took its title from a classic Shaker hymn by way of a poem by Mary Oliver, and featured work by contemporary artists from all over the world. Using a vast range of media– from painting to sculpture, from photography to etching and film—each considered the fate of trees as a biblical and Miltonic synecdoche of flourishing and devastation, both natural and human.

Kieran Dodds, a Scottish photographer, documents a tiny Eden carved out in the middle of a once dense but now denuded forest in Ethiopia. Patty Wickman uses enigmatic paintings of trees and children to create her own paradoxical myths of the Fall. Ken Gonzalez Day makes deceptively simple photographs of California trees that were once the site of little-known lynchings. Lucas Reiner has made a series of 15 etchings, a Stations of the Cross in which all the figures are played by suffering urban trees. Perhaps most pointedly of all, Billy Joe Miller created a gigantic crown of thorns, and its ashen shadow, out of trees burned in a pair of devastating recent fires (which, with devastating irony, destroyed the town of Paradise, California).

The entire show, in sum, could be read as a visual evocation of Paradise Lost—a textbook example of how Milton still matters across contemporary culture. Each artist expresses a deep general awareness of the traditions Milton knew—much like the awareness expressed by more obviously illustrative artists like John Martin, Carlotta Petrina, and Mary Elizabeth Groom. And their works can show us new paths into Milton’s Eden, bringing new attention to its poignant beauty and terrifying fragility.

Unjoo Oh

Posthuman, Material Informatics in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Christian Bök’s The Xenotext Experiment

This paper reads John Milton’s Paradise Lost alongside Canadian poet Christian Bök’s The Xenotext Experiment to account for the remarkable prominence of angels in Milton’s epic. Amounting to a literalization of Milton’s declaration that books “contain a potency of life,” The Xenotext Experiment is a biopoetic endeavor of extreme rigor. Bök created a chemical alphabet and used the processes of DNA inscription, RNA transcription, and protein synthesis to compose a gene-poem that—when implanted into the genome of an extremophile (Deinococcus radiodurans)—would cause the bacterium to produce a protein-poem (the xenotext) in response. I propose that “twin[ing]” (V.216) Paradise Lost and The Xenotext Experiment around each other from a posthumanist perspective facilitates insights into the function of nonhuman agents in both works. Indeed, there are unexpected consonances between Miltonic angels (whether fallen or unfallen) and radiation-resistant D. radiodurans, the most notable being the echo between Satan’s serpentine incarnation and Bök’s vexed attempt to transplant his poetry into a bacterial genome. The points of comparison and contrast offered by The Xenotext Experiment to Paradise Lost highlights Milton’s earnest treatment of angels as posthuman beings who exist on their own (material) terms and the posthumanist informatics underlying his angelology.

Avery Slater

“Into our room of / Creatures”: Erasing Milton

In 1977, the American poet Ronald Johnson published Radi os, a book of erasure poetry subjecting John Milton’s Paradise Lost to a system of deletions. Using the first four books of Paradise Lost, Johnson’s erasure poem removes any reference to divinity and metaphysics. The remaining fragments of Milton’s language have content traceable to the “created” world. What does it mean to create through acts of erasure? In a literary culture still profoundly shaped by myths of originality, erasure poetry can be slighted as derivative, as mere imitation. Yet the strategies of erasure poetry often suggest a formal “counterplot” (Hartman 1970) to canonicity, orthodoxy, and archival power. How does erasure’s creative method diverge from that of divine creation as narrated in Milton’s work? What is the meaning of this divergence, read within an ecological framework? This paper explores the problem of Eve’s dreaming, co-authored by Satan, through erasure poiesis as alternative to divine creation. Dwelling amidst subtraction and extinction, responsibility and loss, Johnson’s erasure poetry highlights the predicament of being “created” in an abandoned world. Through specters of the archive’s transitory nature, erasure poiesis allegorizes the mortal predicament of creatures.

Noel Capozzalo

Reason of State and the Uses of Glory in Paradise Lost

The late humanist reason of state tradition, broadly conceived, offers a suggestive interpretive context for Milton’s representation of political action in Paradise Lost, particularly God the Father’s famously unsavory interventions in his servants’ demonstrations of active virtue. Scholars in English studies and intellectual history have located the civic and religious commitments of the Good Old Cause in Milton’s heaven, and they have rightly identified Satan as a figure of corrupt statecraft. The question of the Father’s providential statecraft, however, has not received much critical attention despite recent work on Milton’s defense of force and fraud in the Interregnum prose tracts. This paper shows that, whereas Satan’s political tactics parody a pragmatic outlook grounded in “public reason just,” the Father’s calculated manipulation of the politics of glory, and his willingness to sacrifice the personal honor of his servants for a rational concept of the public good, exemplifies right reason of state (4.389). The argument demonstrates the common currency of Justus Lipsius’s advice on the practical uses of glory in the Politicorum Libri Sex and shows how the same Neostoic language and framework serves to legitimize the Father’s staging of the Son’s merit at the cost of Michael’s honor, his obstruction of Gabriel’s just cause against Satan in the interest of order and stability, and Abdiel’s fundamentally pragmatic obedience. These contextualist readings draw attention to Milton’s participation in a broad transformation of humanist political values—glory, virtue, public service, the common good—over the course of the seventeenth century, qualifying the notion of a clean break between classical political wisdom and Enlightenment liberalism.

Ben LaBreche

Between Law and Nature: The Similes of Paradise Regained

Readers have noted the ambiguous character of the similes at the end of Paradise Regained, where the figures of Antaeus and Hercules, on the one hand, and the Sphinx and Oedipus, on the other, fail to line up with Satan and Jesus as one might expect. This instability in Milton’s allusions poses problems for scholars who wish to see the poem as ending with clear resolution (e.g., regarding republicanism, liberalism, or messianic identity); I will argue, though, that these similes dilate upon the fall of Satan not in order to reiterate the triumph of Jesus, but in order to express obliquely Milton’s mixed feelings about this victory.

Milton’s reservations about Jesus’s defeat of Satan are surprising given his Christian commitments, but they become understandable in light of Milton’s ongoing struggle with modern, naturalistic rationalism in the poem. While Milton’s earlier works famously endorse reason and natural law as principles of reform, Paradise Regained channels these principles into Satan’s temptations, which consistently invite Jesus to accept the terms either of reason of state, which replaces morality with instrumentality, or of the new naturalism, which reduces the foundations of natural law to self-preservation. The conflict between Satan and Jesus in Paradise Regained thus represents a much broader struggle between traditional, highly theistic norms and a disenchanted, ethically minimal modernity.

To oppose the excesses of rationalization, Milton’s Jesus adopts the position of legal positivism, which understands norms not as inherent in the world, but rather as conferred upon the world by preexisting authority. Positivism thus allows Jesus to replace the immanent, ethically minimal principles of the new natural law with a return to God’s will as the sole determinant of authority and value. Moreover, in doing so Paradise Regained both imitates key legal theorists of the seventeenth century and anticipates the rise of positivism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a school of jurisprudence opposed to natural law and scientism.

The contest between naturalism and positivism structures and makes possible the triumph of Jesus atop the Temple in Jerusalem, but what follows this climactic episode puts in question whether positivism can resolve the problems posed by Paradise Regained. My paper will examine in particular the varied sources for Milton’s similes to show their close, and often quite conflicted, connections to both nature and law. Through these similes, I argue, Milton expresses his dissatisfaction with key problems in positivism. In its classic nineteenth-century form, positivism relies on sovereign command and fear-inducing sanctions to generate laws, and in later versions positivism depends on de facto legal conditions. Positivism, then, potentially incorporates the worst features of naturalism: its irrationalism, determinism, and violence, and these paradoxical problems drive Milton’s inclusion of his ambiguous similes. Paradise Regained thus presents a Milton who is deeply ambivalent about his own principles—both the rationality and natural law of his earlier works and the positivism of Paradise Regained—and the poem ultimately forces us to ask whether there is any escape from disenchantment and ethical minimalism in a rationalized modern world.

David Currell

Salmasius’ Cock: Gendered Insult in the Defensiones

If you remember one derisive sally from Milton’s Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio it may well be the “Gallus gallinaceus: passage, with its play on “Frenchman” and “cock,” and its association of Salmasius’ domestic life with beast fable and Plautine comedy. Commentators have occasionally noted a third available sense of “Gallus,” denoting the castrated celebrants of Cybele (as in Catullus 63). This reference merits further attention in view of the persistently gendered and sexualized terms in which Milton attacks Salmasius throughout the first Defensio. The terms are systematically effeminizing and emasculating and they persist in association with Salmasius even as they are overtaken by conversely phallic (although still, as Drew Daniel notes, effeminizing) attacks on More in the Defensio Secunda and Pro Se Defensio.

Following these threads of imagery and rhetoric through the tracts illuminates aspects of Milton’s Latinity and what John Hale calls his “rationale of insulting,” but it also opens the question of the relationship between these threads and the celebrated representation of queer angelic sex and sexuality in Paradise Lost. Is this the same imagination at work in malo as later in bono? Zooming out yet further, what can be made of the strain of gendered and sexualized vituperation around Salmasius “Gallus” in our generally post-psychoanalytic critical moment?

Evan LaBuzetta

Milton’s Stupidities

Milton prolifically denigrates targets in both prose and poetry, using terms such as “stupid,” “fools,” “idiots,” and others that convey similar scorn. Blaine Greteman’s 2020 article “Milton in an Age of Stupidity” highlighted the prevalence and relevance of this surprising vocabulary in Milton’s works. Greteman is correct to note that this language strikes contemporary readers as “relatable,” and furthermore correct to say that the force of Milton’s “stupid” is often as an insult and not necessarily further “nuanced.”

Nevertheless, I contend that at least some of these insults provide useful evidence of Milton’s beliefs regarding intelligence. Milton’s uses of this derogatory language are not uniform: at various times they describe failures or perversions of different aspects of intelligence. It is possible therefore to construct a taxonomy of Milton’s stupidities.

In addition to suggesting such a taxonomy, this paper explores the more basic question of why we should want to do such a thing. Milton’s many and varied insults in the vein of “stupid” may carry equivalent pejorative vitriol, but they impute to his targets a wide range of faults, both active and passive. These include, at least: a conscious embrace of error, an oversight, a lack of knowledge, a lack of ability, or a complete absence of thought. It is worth considering these charges of stupidity in more detail because they can illuminate Milton’s own assumptions about what intelligence consists of, what responsibilities it entails, and how it fails—even in instances where Milton is not discussing intelligence directly. This examination also shows how Milton’s assumptions may contradict one another, and, as Greteman suggested, challenge his standing to declaim on the stupidity of others. In other words, Milton’s stupidities can help us outline some of the foundational characteristics and surprising limits of Milton’s genius.

Brendan Prawdzik

Race and the British Head, 1641-44

Between the sitting of the Long Parliament in November 1640 and the decisive royalist defeat at Marston Moor in July 1644, emergent and unstable racializing discourses competed to represent conflicts of religious and political difference. Popular satires and news pamphlets facilitated difference through representations and aspersions—square-cap, shag-pole, rattle-head, prick-ear, sound head, and round-head—that were overwhelmingly focused on the human head: from the crude satires of Richard Overton and John Taylor to (a few years later) the philosophy and anthropology of John Bulwer. Race, in this talk, is not analogical: rather, it is understood to be a product of discourses initiated by political (and thus economic and existential) threat, developed into stereotypes of anatomical representation, and finally rooted to reproduction and genealogy. This talk reads across the literatures and images of 1641-44 to understand how the British created warring races from an irreducible array of religious and political diversity. Further, it locates Milton’s prose from this period within this context, revealing the extent and limits of his participation in the factional rhetoric of the head.

Yaacov Bronstein

“The Common Gloss”: Multilingual Biblical Reading in Paradise Lost

Recent studies on Paradise Lost and the Bible — such as those by Rosenblatt, Fulton, and Lewalski — have focused on Milton’s poetic expansions upon verses quoted from the King James Version. However, scholars have tracked Milton’s biblical reading beyond the KJV, most notably to the Latin Tremellius-Junius-Beza edition (TJB), the source for the biblical referencing in his works of Latin prose. At the same time, critics such as Leonard and Hale have traced the interplay of English and Latinate meanings in Paradise Lost. Milton’s use of both Latin and the Bible intersect in the TJB, encouraging us to examine the role this edition plays alongside the KJV in the composition of the poem. Critics have cataloged moments when Milton draws from the marginal notes in the KJV, but the more extensive marginalia and commentary of the TJB have not received this critical attention. This talk will show that Milton draws from both the KJV and the TJB text/commentary together throughout Paradise Lost. More specifically, the KJV verses embedded in Paradise Lost become poetically glossed with Latinate material drawn from the text and commentary of the TJB. The result is a careful poetic recreation of the experience of reading the KJV with the TJB alongside it, of having multiple Bibles of varying languages and marginalia open at once.

These findings not only elaborate on the biblical sourcing of Paradise Lost, but also extend our conception of an author’s “use of the Bible” as a material-textual mode of reading that unfolds both synchronically and diachronically. A learned biblical reader like Milton would move horizontally across a range of contemporary translations and editions, the marginalia of which, even as they formulated their own original readings, would vertically perpetuate the language of the Latin commentary tradition. As a result, over time scriptural moments would become inseparable from the exegetical language of their orthodox interpretations. When Milton expands upon an English verse from the KJV using the Latin commentary of the TJB, he collects language from this traditional lexicon as well as material unique to this particular commentary.

For example, throughout Book IX Milton quotes the KJV to structure his depiction of Satan’s temptation. The poetic expansion of these verses illustrates that the temptation hinges on Satan’s manipulation of the name of the Tree of Knowledge, an interpretation virtually unique to the TJB. To recreate this reading, the poetry forefronts the interplay of the Latinate words “sapience” and “experience.” Indeed, within the exegetical tradition both these words are inseparable from this scriptural moment, when commentators consistently use them to gloss the name of the Tree of Knowledge. Thus, the poem recreates a biblical reading experience that is both synchronic and diachronic. What emerges is our need to further account for the linguistics of exegesis, to trace how its lexicon is both preserved and manipulated as the commentary tradition becomes digested and formatted into the marginal space of the printed biblical page. Only then can we trace Milton’s “use of the Bible(s),” and follow the multilingual and multi-editional reading recreated in Paradise Lost.

Robert Dulgarian

Why “Lycidas”? The Poem and the Cambridge Curriculum

Of the various layers of allusion in Milton’s Lycidas, two that would have been most obvious to the Cambridge reader of the late 1630s are the most obscure to the modern reader: the poem’s engagement with classical reading lists and with the practice of eristics and disputation. This paper proposes that Lycidas, inter alia, stages an internal debate on the applicability to the poem’s concerns of two corpora of classical material that share Virgil as a common term: Theocritan-Virgilian pastoral and a broader tradition of ‘canonical’ classical Latin authors. The paper proposes that Lycidas, particularly up to line 131, stages a debate between these two corpora as explanatory and consolatory frameworks, and that this debate clarifies both the relation of classical and Christian reference in the latter part of the poem, and, more broadly, between the poem’s ambitions to console and to criticize. The paper draws upon manuscript and printed material from and relating to the Cambridge curriculum to shed light upon the modes of composition and argument common to the poem and its readers in the period of its initial publication.

Tomos Evans

New Contexts for Milton’s Letters to Lucas Holstenius and Leonard Philaras

I examine unpublished, unedited letters and newly-discovered poetry of Leonard Philaras from the 1650s–60s which are held at archives in Italy and the Netherlands in order to provide new contexts surrounding the Milton–Philaras correspondence— EF 12 (June 1652) and EF 15 (28 September 1654)—as well as Philaras’s enigmatically prominent position within Milton’s Defensio Secunda (1654). Why did Milton take the historically peculiar position of advocating for the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman Empire in the mid-seventeenth century? By learning more about Philaras himself, one can gain a much greater understanding of Milton’s political philhellenism and of his correspondence with the Athenian scholar and diplomat. As Philaras’s nineteenth-century biographer Simon Chardon de La Rochette observed in 1812, ‘we only have scant details regarding Philaras, but this is all the more reason to carefully gather all the information we have about him’ (‘nous n’avons donc que de foibles renseignmens sur sa personne; mais c’est un motif de plus pour les recueillir avec soin’). Over two centuries on, that corpus of Philaras’s published writings has scarcely grown. Yet, by studying the unedited letters of Philaras from 1656–9, this paper sheds light on Philaras’s radical network and where Milton belonged within it.

John Rumrich’s recent essay ‘Milton’s Night at the Opera’ (2021) offers a valuable reassessment of Milton’s activities in Rome, specifically concerning what the poet may have been hearing during his time in Italy. This paper will, in turn, investigate which Greek texts Milton was reading and which Greek manuscripts he was studying in Italy. Opening with a discussion of Milton’s letter to Lucas Holstenius (30th March 1639), this paper will explore Milton’s self-presentation as a scholar-poet at Rome’s academies by investigating Milton’s scholarly activities at Italian libraries. Milton kept company with Italy’s leading Greek scholars such as Giovanni Battista Doni and Lucas Holstenius. He was exposed to cutting-edge Hellenic scholarship through these academic networks in Rome principally through his friendship with Holstenius who served as Milton’s gateway into Rome’s scholarly and musical life. Holstenius requested Milton to transcribe a Greek codex for him at the Laurentian Library, but which one?

Jameela Lares

Updates on Milton’s Logica

This paper reflects insights gained in my preparing for Oxford University Press the edition of Milton’s Artis Logicae Plenior Institutio (1672), which I will here refer to as Logica. Not only did Milton’s Logica represent a late-life publication, just two years before his death, but it was the last recension in England of Ramist dialectic, published a century after the death of Peter Ramus (1511-1572). The year of Ramus’s death also saw the last publication of his system of logic, Dialecticae libri duo, an edition so abbreviated that the first chapter was a mere sentence. Milton added further explanations and examples to his edition, as did virtually all other recensions. The 1572 edition was the most widely known in Europe and thus the basis of most of the later editions and commentaries. However, it is less known that its brevity was an accident of publishing history, as its barebones summary was intended to be supplemented with Ramus’s other extensive commentaries. Another accident of publishing history is that the important dissertation on Milton’s logic by Francine Lusignan, “L’Artis Logicae plenior institutio de John Milton: état de la question et position” (University of Montreal, 1974), was never published and is known mostly by abbreviated report. Lusignan had more to say about Milton’s original contributions than is generally known, arguing, for example, that Milton’s debt to George Downham has been overstated. Some critics have also asked Milton to be more original—or controversial—than is possible with a school text. I finally want to report on recent international work on Ramus that may be of use to Miltonists.

Linda Mitchell

John Milton’s Accedence Commenc’t Grammar (1669): Six Pesky Unanswered Questions

This paper will be part of a session featuring editors of the forthcoming Oxford edition of Milton’s educational writings. My paper will contain a brief summary of what we know about John Milton’s Latin grammar, and then it will then focus on some pesky questions to which the answers remain elusive.

Milton’s Accedence Commenc’t Grammar of 1669 (hereafter referred to as Accedence) is a minor achievement among his body of work. There is only one edition with no significant variants. To his credit, he writes a useable grammar that shortened the time in which he could teach his nephews Latin before they moved on to classical authors.

Milton rejects the radical methods of Bathe and Comenius who wanted to eliminate grammar in favor of vocabulary and memorized phrases. Milton also does not follow the new, non-traditional methodology of teaching grammar with an emphasis on idiom, the use of versified rules, and a dependence upon the clause as the unit of learning. Rather, Milton is conservative and follows the more traditional methodology of Wolsey, Lily, and Farnaby. Except for one or two mentions, he goes unnoticed by fellow Latin grammarians. The text did not meet the needs of the more vocationally oriented students who were beginning to fill the seats in schoolrooms. Grammarians were moving toward philosophical, rational, or rhetorical grammars, and Milton’s grammar was no longer in fashion. Still, in spite of its faults, Milton’s grammar is considered by scholars to be one of the best recensions of Lily.

Several questions remain unanswered.

  1. Why is Accedence so little known? It is Milton’s least well-known and least-anthologized work, although it is of course included in the Columbia and Yale editions. Miltonists are surprised to learn that John Milton wrote a grammar. There is little scholarship on Accedence except for J. Milton French’s and Gordon Campbell’s work.
  2. Can a ghost copy be ruled out for sure? Anthony à Wood claims that John Milton first published his Accedence in October 1661.
  3. When was Accedence written? Although publication details are known, the date of composition is unknown.
  4. Why are there two title pages? The only major variants in the text come from two different title pages; one lists the author as “J. M.” and the other “John Milton.” Was it for political reasons?
  5. Why was Accedence not mentioned by Milton’s peers? The publication of Accedence in 1669 had almost no bearing on the teaching of grammar because there are few references to Milton’s text during his lifetime and the following decades.
  6. And why did Milton’s Accedence not sell well?

Timothy Raylor

Of Education: Thoughts on Genre and Occasion

Part of a session featuring editors of the forthcoming Oxford edition of Milton’s educational writings, my paper aims to sketch out the current state of play as regards to our understanding of the publication and purposes of Milton’s tract Of Education. I will comment on text and context and propose some potentially fruitful lines of enquiry.

With regard to the text, little need be said. 1644 is the authoritative edition. With the exception of some paratextual material introduced in the titling of 1673, all variants therein are either house stylings or plain errors. Despite this, the influence of 1673 persists, with the notable exception of the Yale edition, which, while accurate in its presentation of the text, is deficient in its interpretation of the publication process.

Most problematic is the Yale edition’s interpretation—or, rather, dueling interpretations (for editor and general editor are not completely aligned on the material points)—of the publishing context. The Yale edition entrenched the view that Milton’s dismissal of Comenius so offended Hartlib that he refused to publish the work, forcing Milton to do so himself. The paper will show that this view is founded on a selective misconstruction of the available evidence.

But was Milton ambushed by Hartlib’s publication of an essentially private letter? (He would not have been the first to find himself thus surprised.) Or was he rather writing with a view to publication? This question leads in turn to what appears to me the central question posed by the tract: what did Milton hope to accomplish by it? How far, for instance, was it a blue-print or funding proposal for an academy—or even, perhaps, a national network of academies—of which he hoped to be principal? And how far was it, by contrast, a piece of armchair speculation? How far did it aim to promote the particular educational system with which Milton was currently experimenting and how far to offer a general manifestation of its author’s learning and accomplishments?

My paper will explore these questions and point to some areas that seem (to this editor, at least) to merit further investigation.

Manuel Cárdenas

Milton, Abundance, and the Zero-Sum Game

In Paradise Lost and elsewhere, Milton militates against scarcity. The universe is boundless, its God limitless, and his abundance absolute. Eden oozes pleasure and plenty, as do the poet’s frequent and luxurious descriptions of it, even metrically. Yet as Kristen Poole has suggested, this principle of abundance is in tension with the poet’s insistence on bounds and boundaries (2015: 16). Milton’s God “command[s] temperance, justice, continence, yet pours out before us even to a profuseness all desirable things” ( Areopagitica). Excess serves as its own temptation and pleasure becomes its own limitation, raising the question of why Milton did not simply imagine a world of sufficiency and just proportions. Instead, he draws attention to the issue by placing arguments both for and against abundance in the mouths of good characters and bad: Comus and the Lady in A Mask; Satan and Jesus in Paradise Regain’d; Adam and especially Satan in Paradise Lost.

The fact that arguments for and against do not sort neatly with morally good and bad characters on either side shows the complexity of abundance for Milton. This paper will argue that the poet accommodates an unruly view of abundance and even excess in order to disarm the deadlier sin of zero-sum thought—that is, the belief that one person’s gain is another’s loss. Much that is distinctive about the ontology and theology of Paradise Lost underscores the logic of abundance, as Milton works to render a mentality of scarcity unnecessary and even irrational. Thus Adam observes, in one of many virtuous cycles, that “nature multiplies / Her fertile growth, and by disburdening grows / More fruitful” (5.317–20). Conversely, zero-sum thinking is the source of Satan’s envy and the catalyst for his rebellion. This unnatural perspective serves as the foundation for his subsequent temptation of the humans and the Fall. Satan’s ignorance begets Adam’s and Eve’s, and the “flowry crop of knowledge” Milton envisioned in Areopagitica must thereafter be protected against the hoarders and engrossers of truth who would keep it for themselves.

Travis DeCook

Milton, Hobbes, and the Denial of the Nunc Stans

Several scholars have argued that Milton, in De Doctrina Christiana and elsewhere, rejects the classical conception of the eternity of God’s being as timelessness. In the traditional understanding, established in formulations by Augustine and Boethius, God was understood to be at once beyond time and to contain and access all of time in a single, unified moment. Milton’s contemporary Hobbes explicitly denied the idea of eternity as a nunc stans (standing now) on multiple occasions, unequivocally asserting that eternity must be an endless sequence of moments rather than the transcendence of time. While Milton’s engagement with the nunc stans is far more complex and ambiguous than Hobbes’s, this paper shows that in certain places Milton does indeed appear to deny the doctrine. The paper proceeds to argue that within the work of the two writers the denial of God’s transcendence of time carries strikingly diverging political, anthropological, and theological significance. Whereas others have seen the evasion of the nunc stans in Milton as owing to his fundamentally narrativizing imagination or to his particular understanding of divine justice, this paper argues that it has a complex affinity with his investment in a certain conception of agency. This conception is exemplified in his emphatic presentation of divine action as requiring something upon which to act, which is enabled by his doctrine of creation ex deo, and in his presentation of creation as the shaping of chaotic matter. It is also exemplified in his characteristic depiction of human agency as striving and endeavour, and countervailing sidelining of traditional forms of spiritual contemplation where something like the transcendence of time may be glimpsed. Whereas in Milton the denial of the nunc stans can be seen to be connected to the elevation of laboring, productive endeavour, the paper argues that in Hobbes the denial of the nunc stans supports, antithetically, his central argument for the pacification of people under the agency of the absolute sovereign. In their denials of the nunc stans, Milton and Hobbes can be seen to embody alternate facets of the waning of divine timelessness characterizing the early modern period. If Hobbes’s denial of the nunc stans supports his project of grounding all public meaning and value in sovereign decision, Milton’s denial can be connected to another characteristically early modern phenomenon: the eclipse of mystical contemplation by the elevation of productivity.

Ethan Guagliardo

Milton and the Temporality of Freedom

Milton’s God is eternal, but what did eternity mean for Milton? This paper builds on Steven Schuler’s recent contention that Milton rejected the traditional view espoused by Augustine and Boethius, which set God’s eternal present (the so-called nunc stans) against time as we experience it. For Milton, by contrast, eternity means endless duration, with the upshot that God experiences time more or less as we do, living in the present, remembering the past, and anticipating the future. Nevertheless, this paper resolves certain ambiguities in Schuler’s argument by showing how Milton weaves together different philosophies of time to produce his own rich account of the temporality of freedom. Milton’s redefinition of eternity, I argue, seems to pull his account of time in two different directions. On the one hand, Milton in reducing eternity to duration joins an anti-Aristotelian tradition—culminating in Isaac Newton’s “absolute time”—that lends time a greater objectivity and mind-independence. On the other hand, however, what Newton would call absolute time was still (certainly for Newton but also I think for Milton) relative to God. Time, we might say, is absolutely relative, a fact that I argue for Milton licenses a richly subjective account of the present that is indispensable to freedom. In Milton’s view, no action is intelligibly free if taken “from eternity”; rather freedom demands tense, a past that frames meaningful engagement with the present, and a future which present action is designed to change. The same is no less true for God’s freedom. God, then, reconciles two otherwise disparate notions of time; as a perpetual being, he is the subject of time qua continuous duration. As free, he is the subject of time as broken into the parts of tense. Time, in sum, is another dimension through which Milton minimizes the distance between God and his creatures, both of whom experience reality, however differently, as an unfolding narrative.

Mollie Bowman

Dismantling the Iconic Milton: George Eliot’s Middlemarch as a Parable of Miltonic Reception

By the late nineteenth century, the cultural status of John Milton in England had reached an apex. From John Dryden’s A State of Innocence (1677) to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s A Drama of Exile (1845), notable literary works ensured that the iconoclast poet posthumously grew into a literary icon. As Anna Nardo notes in George Eliot’s Dialogue with John Milton, Victorian readers were familiar with Milton’s biography, which had achieved a mythological reputation. The Victorians commonly envisioned Milton as the blind prophetic poet––courageous in the face of adversity––dictating his epic to his obedient daughters. George Eliot, one of the most venerated novelists from this period, was no stranger to popular conceptions of Milton. In this paper, I examine Eliot’s novel Middlemarch as a parable of Miltonic reception, ultimately arguing that the novel shatters the icon of Milton through its account of the less-than-ideal marriage of Dorothea Brooke and Edward Casaubon.

The young Dorothea believes that the ideal marriage is one where “where your husband was a sort of father, and could teach you even Hebrew,” noting that she would have married “John Milton when his blindness had come on” (Eliot 14, Restless Books). A subscriber to the conventional Victorian concept of Milton, she finds her Milton in Casaubon, an older academic who “use[s] the utmost caution about [his] eyesight” (20). After their wedding, however, Dorothea discovers that Casaubon is not the Milton she envisioned. Though the regression of the marriage implies that the iconic Milton is a fallacy, Dorothea remains unable to surrender her idol. Eliot then leaves it to her readers to grapple with the implications of this dilemma. The parallel between Casaubon and Milton prompts readers to recognize the problematic figure of the author that arises from uncritical admiration.

It is crucial, Eliot’s novel suggests, to understand the dangers inherent in idolizing an author. Much like Milton in Eikonoklastes, Eliot’s approach is iconoclastic––the icon she is attempting to break down is the Victorian Milton. While it is common for Milton to stand as a central figure in discussions of authorship, Eliot’s domestic epic instead presents him as a central figure in the deconstruction of authorship. Unlike many of her contemporaries (and Dorothea herself), Eliot’s response to Milton is not to idolize him, but rather it is to use him––and the weight that came with his popularized image––to question the concept of authorship itself. Through the lens of a female author who pushes against the idolized version of Milton, Middlemarch offers a unique perspective on the history of Milton’s reception and, more generally, the history of the concept of the author.

Andrew Mattison

The Last Reward: Mark Pattison’s Milton

The Victorian classicist, academic administrator, and literary, theological, and political controversialist Mark Pattison produced two books on Milton: a biography that includes considerable discussion of Milton’s work and an edition of Milton’s sonnets. This paper will examine the motivation and approaches of Pattison’s work on Milton, arguing that he has been both neglected and misunderstood as an interpreter of Milton’s life and work. Pattison’s approach to Milton is grounded in a feeling of sympathy and commonality, and makes a compelling case that Pattison’s own resistance to religious authority and his interest in an aesthetics of pessimism make him an apt reader of Milton.

One goal of the paper is simply to recommend a critic who has been seldom discussed by Miltonists; John Leonard’s exhaustive and essential two-volume history of Milton criticism mentions Pattison only twice and in passing. The paper’s more central purpose is to disentangle Pattison’s approach to Milton from that of other nineteenth century critics, and to show the ways in which it reflects several lifelong interests that Pattison recognizes in both Milton and himself: theological restlessness, well-informed suspicion of institutions (ecclesiastical, governmental, or academic), respect for literary ambition even when it leads to obscurity. As a result, the paper is a defense of critical idiosyncrasy, which is particularly well suited to the revelation of poetic idiosyncrasy. The unadmired Pattison has more to say than most in favor of the relatively less admired elements of Milton’s work.

Many of these elements involve obscure allusions and the challenges and often incomplete satisfactions of their explication. William Empson quotes Pattison’s remark that “an appreciation of Milton is the last reward of consummated scholarship” to distance Pattison from critics like Richard Bentley, more central to an ongoing interpretive tradition. In Empson’s view (recently echoed by Leonard), Bentley understands what is important in Milton even when he gets things wrong, whereas Pattison revels in those obscure places where Milton seems to be writing only for the cognoscenti. I disagree with Empson that Pattison’s pleasure in Milton consists only of the boost to self-regard derived from “picking up Milton’s learned hints,” as Empson puts it. On the contrary, I argue there is a self-undermining, melancholic aesthetic built into Milton’s poetry to which Pattison is especially attuned. Pattison is thus uniquely positioned to demonstrate the ways in which Milton’s sometime indifference or even hostility to readership is fully compatible with his literary ambitions.

Jason Peters

Milton against Milton, or, Jane Eyre and the Methodist Reception of Paradise Lost

Forty years ago, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar argued in their influential Madwoman in the Attic that Milton stands forbiddingly at the gates of the English literary tradition, a patriarchal bogey who inspired what they call an “anxiety of authorship” in writers like Charlotte Brontë who struggled to revise a literary tradition that offered them only two models for female characters, either the obedient angel or the rebellious madwoman. While Milton’s exact role in this narrative has been contested over the years, my paper offers another, underappreciated approach to Milton’s impact on Jane Eyre: namely, Milton’s influence on John Wesley, and Wesley’s influence on the Brontës. In this paper, I trace two lines of descent, one through the Romantic Milton, who inspired Brontë’s reimagining of Victorian gender roles and her figuration of Jane and Rochester’s relationship as a return to Eden, the other through the much less familiar Methodist Milton, who appears in the novel as the forbidding patriarchal figures of Mr. Brocklehurst and St. John Rivers. What emerges is not only two versions of Miltonic influence, one enabling, the other disabling, but also a slightly different account of Milton’s impact on Brontë’s creative imagination and the literary tradition more broadly.

Shaurya Oberoi

Blind Epistemologies: Paradise Lost, Vision, and Seventeenth-Century Experimental Science

In this paper, I explore the complex status of vision, optical technologies, and ways of seeing in the seventeenth century with a specific emphasis on John Milton’s blindness—as a disability and poetic trope—and its critique of contemporary scientific reliance on sight as sensory confirmation par excellence.

Optics—the study of light and its human reception as well the craft and technologies of its production—occupied a central position in the transition from natural philosophy to modern scientific practice in the seventeenth century. If the human eye was limited in its capacity, optical prosthetics such as the telescope (“Is not he who hold thee in his hand made king and lord of the works of God?”, writes Kepler in praise of the instrument) and the microscope infinitely expanded what was within sight and therefore comprehensible to humankind. On a social and public scale, as Steven Shapin has shown, witnessing experiments and their outcome, whether in person or “virtually” through rich graphic descriptions, furthered the status of sight as a form of proof (481). Simultaneously, investigations into the human eye by the Dutch scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) illuminated how the organ adjusts its shape, size and lens to see near and far, laying the path for what is now known as “accommodation” in ophthalmology.

The theory of accommodation was a significant and prevalent concept in theology, developed by religious thinkers from Origen, through Augustine and to Milton’s contemporaries. This theory, as Neil Graves describes, is “an attempt to explain the difference between the nature of God and the textual images or mental conceptions of him” (251). Milton’s Paradise Lost is an exercise in accommodation, wherein Milton aims to “see and tell/ Of things invisible to mortal sight” (Paradise Lost 3.54-55). Through a close reading of crucial moments including the “Optic Glass [of] the Tuscan Artist (Galileo)” (PL 1.258), I show how Milton was not simply accepting or rejecting contemporary developments of optics and its technologies. Rather, by formulating his theory of accommodation in Book 3 beyond received theological frameworks and in close relation to his own blindness, he makes his lack of sight—the light he invites to “Shine inward”—a fundamental way of seeing and knowing God and his world (PL 3.52). At once suspicious of optical prostheses and human eyesight, and motivated to bring to light the ways of God, Milton’s epistemology of blindness allows us to think through the seventeenth century science of vision in conjunction with the poetics of faith.

Ultimately, the larger stakes of my paper involve a scientific reading of poetry and a literary analysis of science in the period. Rather than assume them to be separate pursuits, Milton’s oeuvre allows us to see how both these projects were deeply entwined in their quest to decode what had hitherto been hidden from human sight and comprehension.

Gi Taek Ryoo

The Circle In & Out: The Astro/Cosmological Visions of John Donne and John Milton

The new developments in the history of science delineate that, in the seventeenth century often characterized as the age of Scientific Revolution, politics, religion, and science were not isolated but integrated; they were mutually transformed and shaped by their interaction. Not only does science influence society but society equally influence the formation of science. If science was in part shaped by society, how can we understand the influence of science in John Donne and John Milton whose works were profoundly shaped by their enduring commitment to religious and political causes? This paper draws on the astro/cosmological visions of Donne and Milton to explore how they received and perceived the scientific ideas of their day, and how they established their own visions of the universe, in accordance with the cultural contexts shaped by the doctrine of “correspondence” between microcosm and macrocosm (which dominated the culture of Renaissance England) that brought together the earthly (social/political) matters and the heavenly matters. The structure of the heavens was supposed to correspond to that of the terrestrial world. God created the natural world and the social world in the same order; the political realm, when properly organized, should reflect the natural realm. This paper explores how Donne and Milton incorporate science into their own (different) social, political, religious belief systems that encapsulate new relations among the universe, humanity, and God. The present study is not primarily about Donne’s and Milton’s scientific views as influenced by their contemporary science, but about how those views are integrated into the poets’ socio-political and religious visions, thus helping to form their characteristic astronomical or cosmological world-views. This paper demonstrates their particular (often contrasting) visions of the universe that were developed (rather than solely influenced by science) within the socio-political and religious contexts from which such a science emerged.

J. Antonio Templanza

Prophetic (Eye) Strain: Paradise Lost 11-12 and the Hebrew Bible

The concluding two books of Paradise Lost present the revelation of future human history by the archangel Michael to the new-fallen Adam. Scholarly interpretation of this part of the poem has focused mainly on the pedagogical aspects of this revelation: specifically, how Adam learns to “read” historical events and thus understand that “to obey is best” (12.561). As if to endorse his assessment of the end of learning, Michael states: “This having learnt, thou hast attained the sum / Of wisdom” (12.575-576). The poem ends with Adam and Eve hand in hand with the knowledge that not all has been lost with Paradise.

The aim of my paper is to investigate and clarify the nature of this knowledge, and especially as it relates to the manner with which it is imparted to the fallen couple. Much has been made of the fact that, in the transition from book 11 to book 12, the mode of Michael’s presentation shifts from a primarily visual to an exclusively oral revelation. Frequently, scholarly observation of this fact has been bound up with the pedagogical interpretation. Adam’s increasing wisdom is thus connected to eschewal of the apparently inferior visual mode of spectacle. Nevertheless, uncertain and unsettled questions still remain. For instance, why does the shift happen when it does (to wit: after Michael’s description of the Flood)? Does the Genesis account of the world’s destruction merely provide him with a convenient narrative bookend, so that the archangel can neatly say that Adam “hast seen one world begin and end” (12.6)? Relatedly, if it were indeed the case that the modal shift is associated with an increasing intellectual sophistication, how should we account for the fact that Eve receives (in place of Michael’s presentations) “propitious…dreams” (12.611-612)? Are these dreams visual? and if so, is Eve therefore less capable of sophisticated thought?

My paper takes its first interpretive clue from the intertextual fact that, in the Hebrew Bible, the mode of divine revelation undergoes a similar shift (visual to oral), with the fulcrum point being the dissolution of the southern kingdom of Judea and the subsequent Babylonian exile. The loss of a promised land is an experience shared by both the ancient Hebrews and “our grand parents” (1.29). Investigating the details and causes of the historical event can provide us a more internally coherent understanding of the epistemological conditions under which the poem is working. It may also keep us from throwing Eve under the bus, again.

Amber Bird

“Who this is:” Incarnational Poetics in Milton’s Paradise Regained

My paper asks conference participants to think more specifically about how Milton demonstrates and wrestles with theological notions of Incarnation within a poetic landscape. Rather than turning to Milton’s prose for insights about his theology, this study deliberately considers how Milton’s poetics, the formal and material elements of Paradise Regained, point toward a nuanced understanding of “the Word made flesh.”

Driven by Satan’s prying concern to know “Who this is[…] for man he seems / In all his lineaments, though in his face / The glimpses of his Fathers glory shine,” I argue that Paradise Regained becomes the text where Milton attempts to work out the difficulty of the Incarnation and the Crucifixion that the young Milton was unable to accomplish in The Passion more than forty years prior. I admit that scholarship on The Passion specifically, and Milton’s Christology generally, has yielded a far from orthodox perception of Christ, yet because Milton continually chooses to write within a Christian tradition, the implication of God made flesh becomes a sight that Milton is forced to reconcile with. While significant scholarship has focused on the content of Paradise Regained, what the text says, I am more interested in how it says what it says—the formal poetic strategies Milton uses to manifest the materiality of Jesus becoming Christ in Paradise Regained. In other words, in order to navigate the dual natures of Christ, human and divine, Milton turns toward the dual natures of poetry, form and content, to investigate the weight of such a union.

More than simply reinforcing the dictum that form should be fitted to the content, a formulation that subordinates the formal poetics to the semantic meaning of content, this study argues that form and content communicate through simultaneous yet distinct modes of signification analogous to Christ’s dual natures and as such, the form becomes a valuable and essential mode of meaning. Christ is poetry: divine content in human form. When the incarnation is the model used to investigate Milton poetics, then the materiality of Milton’s Christ, not simply paraphrased biblical content, manifests the fullness of Milton’s engagement with and consideration of “Who this is.”

George Ramos

Taking Paradise Regained Seriously: The Apocalypse, Eternal Recurrence, and the Sufficiency of Imperfect Glorification in Milton’s Epics

As the world reels from the pandemic, climate change, economic recession, the culture wars, and the Ukraine conflict, it is high time to revisit Milton’s apocalypticism. Challenging consensus, I argue that Milton never adhered to the politico-religious ideology of millenarianism, the belief that in the end times Christ would descend to rule the world with his saints for a thousand years. No definitive evidence for millenarianism exists in Milton’s work. Throughout his career Milton focuses his eschatology not on Christ’s millennial kingdom, but on the final eternal kingdom of the renewed heaven and earth, wherein divine immanence is fully realized. Milton cares not for any earthly, fleshly, and coercive kingdom, future or past, even one personally ruled by Christ, but, rather, for the already existing, purely spiritual kingdom of Christ, through which union with God is imperfectly, but sufficiently and presently, attainable.

I argue that the problem of Paradise Regained lies in the failure of scholars to take its title at face value. Paradise, the “paradise within,” has, in fact, already been regained. In Paradise Lost, the Son’s kingdom had already begun at the beginning of time and that beginning is eternally recurring. The strangely repeated exaltations of the Son at the beginning of time in Book 3 and Book 5, and all other exaltations of the Son and beginnings of his kingdom, are, in a manner of speaking, the same event. Made possible by the preeminent, retroactive, and eternally resonant effect of the Son’s incarnation and humiliating mortal death, they are eternal recurrences of the primordial beginning that manifests during discrete historical occasions and through which the Father seeks to connect with man and all creation.

In the brief epic, the Son’s kingdom has begun again and, like all previous recurrent beginnings, the faithful need not wait for the millennium to attain union with God. Three elements in the end of Book Four support this reading: the ambiguity of whether the Son stands at the pinnacle through miraculous or human means, Milton’s unique detail of Satan’s fall during this gospel episode, and the Son’s elevation from the pinnacle by the Angels, which is followed by his descent with their aid to “a green bank” evocative of the new heaven and earth of Revelation 21 and 22 rather than the millennial kingdom.

Satan is thus a proto-millenarian in his anxious anticipation of a future materialistic kingdom of Christ. The victory in the wilderness is itself another, and very crucial, recurrence of the beginning of the Son’s kingdom, wherein the future final eschatological defeat of Satan has, to a greater degree than scholars have acknowledged, a very real and concrete presence and ramifications in the present times of the brief epic and that of its readers. As the doctrine of imperfect glorification in De Doctrina further demonstrates, Paradise thus recovered ultimately and provocatively suggests that the spiritual kingdom of the present is conflated with and essentially indistinguishable from the perfect conditions of the final kingdom when God shall be “All in All.”

David V. Urban

Postulating Orthodoxy in Paradise Regained: The Significance of the Son’s “I am” Statements and His Increasing Identification with the Father

In light of both the recently published challenges to Miltonic authorship of De Doctrina Christiana as well as the longstanding admission by various advocates of Miltonic authorship that DDC should be used cautiously in any analysis of the theology contained in Milton’s poetry, it is appropriate to investigate the Christology of Paradise Regained independently from DDC and its expressed Arianism. This essay will offer such an investigation, paying particular attention to the brief epic’s allusions to Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58 evident when the Son uses the deific phraseology “I am” in Paradise Regained 1.263 and 3.107; and noting DDC’s inexplicable failure to ever reference John 8:58, a verse commonly used in sixteenth and seventeenth century writings as a prooftext regarding the Son’s eternal deity. These statements will be examined in conjunction with the Son’s increasing identification with his Father throughout the poem, culminating in his final statement to Satan, “Tempt not the Lord thy God” (4.561), considering the possibility that Milton’s presentation of the Son in Paradise Regained fits within the bounds of kenotic Trinitarian orthodoxy.

Deseree Cipollone

Satanic Atomism: The Politics of Atomism in Paradise Lost

Although almost all interest in atomism as a republican philosophy was extinguished after the Restoration, Milton’s most meaningful engagement with atomism occurs in Paradise Lost. I argue that atomism provided Milton with a unique opportunity to work through and express his peculiar republicanism. The influence of atomism is scattered throughout Paradise Lost; however, in this paper, I will focus exclusively on the association between Satan and atomic motion to illuminate Milton’s politics. By the time Milton wrote Paradise Lost, there were numerous ways of understanding atomism. The divergent and often contradictory atomistic philosophies of the Renaissance can roughly be broken down into two categories. The first, favoured by monarchists throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, regarded atomic motion as orderly, predetermined, and cyclical. The second, which came to prominence during the mid-17th century thanks in no small part to Pierre Gassendi, understood atomic motion as more spontaneous and dynamic. The emphasis on free will and self-determination in Gassendi’s atomistic universe helped establish atomism as a potentially anti-monarchical philosophy. While we might expect Milton to present some version of Gassendian atomism, the first depiction of atomic motion in Paradise Lost — Satan’s introduction in Book 1 — decidedly belongs to the first category. Throughout the poem, Milton continues to represent Satan in this way, and consequently, he aligns Satan’s failed rebellion with an orderly atomistic motion. Read in light of Milton’s disillusionment with the failed English Revolution — an effort in which Cromwell and his supporters increasingly grew to resemble the monarchy they fought to replace— Milton demonstrates the incompatibility of cyclical atomism with meaningful political change. Any attempt to create a new social or political order within the confines of a system defined by the cyclical dissolution and recreation of atomistic motion necessarily results in the re-creation of the old system. Atomism in Paradise Lost thus demonstrates that there can be no lasting change or progress within a social or political framework determined by monarchists.

Stephen Fallon

Milton and Monism, Again

In Milton among the Philosophers I argued that the poet subscribed to a monist animist materialism in response to the worrying implications of emerging mechanist models in natural and moral philosophy. In recent years, my arguments and those of others for Milton’s monism have been contested by a number of scholars. I will respond in particular to arguments that Milton’s “one first matter” is not matter as understood by physics, with mass and extension, but Aristotelean and metaphysical prima materia, qualityless and insensible, which might underlie ontologically separate incorporeal and corporeal substances. In addition, I will address passages that have been taken to undermine claims for the life of Milton’s matter, Raphael’s references to the “infernal dregs / Adverse to life” (7.238-39) and his apparent distinction between “things that live” (5.474) and other matter. I hope to demonstrate that challenges to Milton’s monism depend on assumptions explicitly addressed and rejected not only by Milton himself but also by leading vitalist thinkers among his contemporaries.

CassieGorman

‘Hurled headlong’ or ‘headlong hurl’d’: John Milton, Henry More, and a Shared Cosmological Poetics

While a student at Christ’s College, Cambridge, Milton overlapped for a year (1631-32) with the younger scholar Henry More, who would later become a lifelong fellow of the college and a prominent member of the Cambridge Platonists. There are numerous historical and philosophical connections between the two writers: both contributed original poetry, for example, to the collection of elegies for Edward King ( Justa Edouardo King Naufrago, 1638); they also each developed vitalist theories of matter. In 1925, Marjorie Hope Nicolson argued that Milton’s conception of ensouled matter was influenced by More’s writing of spiritual substance. Since then, various critics have noted the philosophical correspondences between More and Milton, but the arguments of Sarah Hutton, Stephen M. Fallon and others have stressed their differences in approach, and correctly so. As Fallon put it, the ‘response of the Cambridge Platonists to the challenge of mechanism differs essentially from Milton’s’ – with ‘essentially’, given their divergence on what constitutes ‘essence’, a key word.

There is nevertheless another side to the connection between Milton and More, which has been overlooked for reasons both philosophic and aesthetic: the influence of More on Milton’s poetics. At first glance, the poetry of Paradise Lost has little in common with More’s ‘conspissate’ (meaning thick, or dense) Spenserian stanzas in the Philosophicall Poems, where the inclusion of words like ‘swonk’ did not exactly secure his poetic reputation. However, a closer look reveals echoes between the two. A vivid moment from More’s Psychathanasia acknowledges how plants have a ‘soul, whose life in their sweet growth we find’, with significant parallels to Raphael’s famous ‘One first Matter all’ speech. Elsewhere, More writes of ‘reason down headlong hurld / Out of her throne’ by those who would seek knowledge based on sense alone – language strikingly similar to Milton’s violent fall of Satan, ‘Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky / With hideous ruin and combustion down’.

In this paper I explore the significance of various poetic and linguistic connections between the two writers, with a focus on the resonances between More’s Philosophicall Poems and Paradise Lost. I consider how Milton was not just influenced by More’s early vitalist metaphysics, but that he responded to the ‘linguistic exuberance’ (to quote Guido Giglioni) of More’s poetic study on the rise and fall of the immortal soul. Moreover, I argue that, by adjusting its focus to examine poetic resonances between the texts, a critical reading can expose further, otherwise unseen metaphysical influences and parallels: notably the authors’ shared questions around spiritual and material movements. More follows Plotinus in his theory of the soul’s descent to matter as something voluntary, yet simultaneously involuntary because cosmically necessary – a key focus of his early poetry that invites comparison with Milton’s poetic and paradoxical rendering of free will. Far from an aesthetic embarrassment, More’s Philosophicall Poems were significant to the establishing of Milton’s own philosophical poetry.

Dennis Kezar

Reification and its Discontents

I want to tap the brakes a bit on Milton and Materialism, and especially on Milton and “things.” While Professor Rogers’ definitive account of the materiality of Milton’s politics is not exactly the diacritical focus, there is a genealogical line between it and the work of (for example) Bill Brown and “thing theory,” and all the rest of it. In an attempt to digest Professor Teskey’s Delirious Milton, I ended up concluding that matter in Paradise Lost is (you guessed it) a temptation to be resisted. And I ended up concluding that the “world” of Paradise Lost is, to quote Teskey while distorting his meaning, “a poem, a thing made.” I argue that metaphor always subtends Milton’s prelapsarian “matter.” And less vociferously, I argue the same for Milton’s historicism.

Oh and Milton’s Satan knows he is a creature.

Maura Brady

Folly and Disability in Samson Agonistes

Samson Agonistes is famously concerned with its protagonist’s folly. Samson is named a “foolish pilot”; a laughingstock “sung and proverbed for a fool” in the streets; the Philistine’s “fool” and Dalila’s; and a sinner whose vile “folly” offends God. This conspicuous preoccupation has generated a number of important critical readings of Samson as a type of holy fool or trickster, a figure whose outrageous and incoherent actions effect divine purposes or signify the possibility of radical cultural change. While these readings have highlighted the thematic operations of folly, however, they tend to pass lightly over the text’s many evocations of “fool” as a subject position entailing loss of agency, social exclusion, and moral disgrace. Reading Milton’s drama alongside groundbreaking early histories of intellectual disability, I will argue that “fool” is a position by which Samson is “disabled,” a term that carries distinctly premodern resonances in Milton’s text, but which also anticipates certain key features of modern disability. Like recent studies of early modern stage fools by Alice Equestri, Wes Folkerth, and others, this paper reads “fool” as overlapping with early modern notions of (so-called) “idiot and natural fool.” Rather than adopt a proto-medical model of this category, however, I read it terms of what might be called a Reformed religious model of disability. This framework, as outlined by Chris Goodey and Andrew McKendry, emerged in seventeenth century religious writings, where “disability” terminology pointed to the effects and operations of sin, which sometimes included particular weaknesses of mind and/or body. In the latter half of the century, Reformed religious writings began to adapt what had been a precisely circumscribed legal category (i.e., “idiot and natural fool”) into one that could be administered more broadly by pastors as they examined parishioners’ mental and moral fitness for the sacraments, deciding whom to admit and to exclude from spiritual community. Samson Agonistes explores this precise intersection of mental and moral failure as it considers what kind of “fool” Samson is—and is not. While his allies and Dalila suggest more companionable notions of “folly” as a common human failing, Samson himself diagnoses it as an exceptional, ingrained “impotence of mind” and a grievous moral failure that has “disabled” him. His determination to repudiate both “fool” and “disabled” generates a series of performances culminating with his final feat of destruction at the temple of Dagon, an act that points to the violence and instability at the heart of emergent notions of disability.

Pasquale Toscano

‘Let Be Assigned Some Narrow Place Enclosed’: Access, Ableism, and Accommodation in Samson Agonistes

Enduring disagreement about the final violence of Milton’s Samson has intensified in recent years. But this debate occludes another, quieter, and less aggressive moment crucial to the ethical and interpretive stakes of Samson Agonistes: its hero’s demand that Harapha provide “some narrow place enclosed” for a fight between them. How might our understanding of the text change if we read this plea for an accommodation as another climax of the dramatic poem—the culmination of its titular character’s frequently discussed introspection? The present paper argues that doing so allows us to realize Samson, and Milton himself, as crucial disability theorists with much to say about the integration of corporeal variation into broader society. I show that, in contrast to other Restoration-era, dramatic treatments of the blinded body as a monstrous spectacle, Samson Agonistes impels its mostly able-bodied readers to practice ethical, reciprocal staring at physical alterity. Such looking depends upon a stepwise reevaluation of disability, effected for Samson (and us, by extension) throughout conversations with Manoa, Dalila, and Harapha. These differently ableist figures frame their interlocutor’s body as a curable problem, charity case, and disqualifying embarrassment, respectively, but in rebutting them, Samson develops the conceptual toolkit to understand his visual impairment as something more than an inherently restrictive deficit.

In fact, Milton’s hero begins to accept that the true spectacle is an inaccessible environment rather than his body. As a result, he requests an accommodation from Harapha to participate more fully in the world around him. By illustrating that this request will never be honored in full or at all, however, Milton thematizes the importance of and, more importantly still, the limits of ad hoc accommodations: their potential to promote the dignity of (even pugnacious) disabled people as well as their tendency to render these same people dependent upon upholders of disabling systems without dismantling the systems themselves. Samson, Milton suggests, valiantly envisions a space wherein at least certain disabled bodies can function uneventfully alongside able counterparts. But the warrior falls short of conceiving a metric for human worth independent of ability (here, via combat) in the first place. This imaginative failure—one that still haunts conversations about disability rights today—ultimately brings him to a simpler, but unacceptable and self-defeating, solution: eliminating those objectifying his body rather than the ideologies that guide them. In this light, we can escape the polarities that so often structure discussions of Milton’s play and instead consider Samson’s ultimate truculence as an untenable perversion of what might have been, had ability not been met on its own ground: an engagement with somatic variation that prioritizes mutual interdependence and access. But attending to Samson’s accommodation request not only invites us to reconsider the nature of the tragedy Milton dramatizes; it also encourages us to begin theorizing how accommodation as I have glossed it here dovetails with the kind of accommodation Miltonists typically discuss—the process of relating “things invisible to mortal sight”—so that disability and Milton studies can more meaningfully be interpolated moving forward.

Christina Wiendels

“To respite his day-labour with repast, / Or with repose”: Mental Illness and Passive Agency in Paradise Lost

This paper reads Milton’s Paradise Lost through a modern topos of mental illness and argues for the growing importance of Renaissance virtues such as balance, temperance, and recreation in our fast-paced modern world.

I contend that Milton’s seventeenth-century poem both anticipates modern-day mental health maxims and provides a potential solution to a tension that began – indeed, persists – when, for many, COVID-19 forced our bodies to sit still at home while speeding up our minds with additional work and confused thoughts about a precarious future. In its characters’ attention to “anxious cares” (8.185), Milton’s poem, I suggest, offers a prehistory of and a remedy to this tension between an inert body and over-active mind. Humans possess a passive agency, a capacity to strive toward rest rather than frenetic activity – what William Wordsworth, an admirer of Milton, called “wise passiveness” (“Expostulation and Reply,” line 24). Adam’s ‘personal responsibility’ for sustaining his God-given happiness is almost in a pastoral sense, a form of self-preservation not predicated upon sacrificing the present to the future.

In Book 8, Adam says with assurance to Raphael that he has been “taught to live, / The easiest way, nor with perplexing thoughts / To interrupt the sweet of life” (8.182-4). Significantly, Adam does not say ‘the sweet life,’ meaning a life of luxury, but rather “the sweet of life” (italics added), which refers to “That which is pleasant to the mind or feelings” and ‘delight’ in the sense of “the pleasant part of something” (“sweet, n.,” def. 3a). Milton identifies for readers the parts of life that nourish the intellect. In Book 5, God tells Raphael that he will find Adam “from the heat of noon retired, / To respite his day-labour with repast, / Or with repose,” and that Raphael should “advise him [Adam] of his happy state” (5.231-3, 234). Milton’s “repast” and “repose” anticipate the maxim of R & R (rest and relaxation). God’s description of Adam’s lifestyle to Raphael reveals that abstractions such as happiness rely upon concrete things, such as repose and replenishment. Adam’s “happy state” follows from the alliterative words: “retired,” “respite,” “repast,” and “repose.” Humans must refresh themselves continually, and epics are not just about us but for us.

For John N. Morris, “delight is itself a subject of the poem [ Paradise Lost],” where it means “high pleasure, attainable pleasure and pleasure without guilt” (76-77). Morris suggests that in modern terms, “the capacity for such pleasure is health; and health is the paradise we have lost, or perhaps never had, but which in any case we long for” (77). I read the poem as a guide to the basics of a peaceful mentality in postlapsarian life, since it reminds us, through God, Raphael, and then Adam that we are “freed from intricacies” (8.182). Raphael resolves Adam’s doubts by teaching him that life should be simple. However, because the mind can undo the ‘easy’ life that, for Adam, is natural to human life, humans have a responsibility to practice acts of care.

Ivana Bicak

Hunc Infera Monstra Flagellant: Nature and Monstrosity in the Epic Poetry of Milton and Lucan

The universe of Lucan’s Pharsalia is populated with hellish monsters of most diverse and imaginative kinds. From the horrific inventions of the witch Erictho and the power-thirsty megalomania of Caesar to the creative monsters of the natural world, Lucan explores different aspects of monstrosity and (un)naturalness. In Paradise Lost, the role of the monstrous is no less conspicuous, ranging from the miscreations of Sin and Death to the metamorphoses of the fallen angels. This paper investigates the nature of Nature in the two epics and traces its relationship to the concepts of the grotesque and monstrous within the context of the Roman Civil War and Christian Fall respectively.

James Ross Macdonald

Milton’s Dolon Revisited

In Inside Paradise Lost, David Quint argues that Milton fashions Book 2 from a dense network of allusions to the career of Ulysses, tying the “deliberation and fraud of the council scene that takes up the book’s first part to Satan’s Odyssey-like journey in its second half.” An important node in this intertextual web is Book 10 of the Iliad, where both Greek and Trojan armies meet in nighttime council and dispatch warriors to reconnoiter the opposing camps. The Trojan scout Dolon is subsequently captured, interrogated, and beheaded by Diomedes and Ulysses. Induced by a false assurance of mercy, Dolon gives away the location of the Trojan ally Rhesus and his men, whom the Greeks then slay and despoil in their sleep. For Quint, Satan becomes the victim of an ironic reversal of epic precedent when, in the form of a toad, he is surprised by the watch-angels Zephon and Ithuriel: “Like Ulysses and Diomedes, Satan assaults a sleeping quarry, pouring his dream into Eve’s ear. But Satan’s capture by the angelic pair, one against two, in fact, places him no longer in the role of the spying Ulysses at all, but of that of Dolon, Ulysses’s and Diomedes’s unheroic victim.” In fact, Quint argues, Milton subjects the core values of classical heroism to sharp criticism by also placing the Son in Dolon’s structural position when he alone answers the Father’s call for one among the heavenly ranks willing to “be mortal to redeem / Man’s mortal crime” (3.214-215). Yet in contrast to both Dolon and Satan, the Son “has designated himself as a victim from the beginning,” and his crucifixion recuperates Dolon’s cowardly death as deliberate, loving self-sacrifice. In this paper, I hope to expand upon Professor Quint’s point by arguing for the relevance to Paradise Lost of the other extant account of Dolon, which appears in the Rhesus attributed to Euripides. Milton knew this text well, having annotated and suggested emendations in a copy of Euripides’s tragedies that he purchased in 1634, now at the Bodleian Library. In the play (but not in Homer’s epic), Dolon tells the Chorus that disguise will play an integral role in his surveillance tactics: “On my back I shall wrap the pelt of a wolf, with the beast’s gaping jaws about my head: fitting its forelegs to my arms and its hindlegs to my feet I shall imitate the four-footed gait of a wolf, hard for enemies to detect as I approach the moat and the ships’ fortifications. When I reach deserted ground, I will walk on two feet. That is how my deceit is concocted.” This detail resonates powerfully with the metamorphic forms adopted by Satan in Eden and the eventuality of the Son’s incarnation, providing further evidence for Professor Quint’s view that Milton presents a Satan who becomes the unintentional imitator of Dolon and a Son who embraces yet transfigures the humiliation and weakness of the same epic model.

Catherine Gimelli Martin

The Confessional Epic: Milton and Dante

​Dante and Milton’s Christian epics are both deeply classical, but what Milton learned from Dante’s Christianization of the classics has long been debated. This paper offers an entirely new answer to this old question: Milton learned from Dante how to replace largely externalized epic characters with self-reflective, conscience-ridden humans missing from both late Italianate epic and Shakespearean tragedy. Chiefly interested in keeping up appearances, classic characters are primarily concerned with public and personal honor, duty, and power rather than personal guilt or innocence. Even Shakespeare’s Hamlet only briefly questions his motives and sins before returning to the prime object, duty and revenge. Like Homer’s Achilles and Virgil’s “pious Aeneas,” his values are relatively simplified calls to action, but not even Milton’s Satan can escape the superior call of conscience. Dante’s characters, including his saints, are immersed in conscience and regret because they exist in the perspective of Christian eternity, unable to rationalize their choices by blaming Fate or “the gods.” Milton’s brilliant variation on this innovation resituates the Dantean “plot” of self-confession in the present, but still under the watchful eye of his highly visible God. The result is a dramatic shift from observing characters manipulate or deceive others to watching them simultaneously deceive or manipulate themselves. As in Dante but more so, in Milton the confessional impulse animates fallen and unfallen characters alike, adding new interiority and potential for growth to formerly static characters such as the God and angels of earlier Christian epic. Milton’s God himself confesses deep regret if not responsibility for his beloved children’s transgressions, while both good and bad angels like Abdiel and Satan temporarily waver as they ponder their true loyalties. Yet fully human characters like Adam and Eve profit most of all, as this paper shows by tracing their origins in Dante’s “almost” unfallen human lovers, Paolo and Francesca.

Joseph Ortiz

Milton’s Georgic: Inventing the Past in Paradise Lost

This paper examines Milton’s use of georgic language in Book 6 of Paradise Lost, and it argues that it is through such language that Milton figures his relation to classical models. By casting Satan’s warfare as a process of “turn[ing] celestial soil,” Milton rehearses a series of agricultural figures that extends back through Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, Alberti’s Intercenales, Petrarch’s Africa, Lucan’s Civil War, and (ultimately) Virgil’s Aeneid and Georgics. I argue that Milton intuits these figures as reflexive metaphors for epic imitation, and that he likewise recognizes their usefulness for suggesting the materiality of classical translation. Like his classical and Renaissance epic models, Milton takes the opportunity to suggest that classical translation may be as much a product of technological force as it is of intellectual brilliance. For Milton, however, such a material view of translation has moral and theological implications. At the heart of Milton’s georgic intertextuality is a profound meditation on the nature of human “invention”—a word whose Latin roots betray an indelible tension between finding and creating. Ultimately, Milton casts Satan in Book 6 as an ingenious proto-humanist in order to stoke suspicion about the futility of humanist translation—and about humanist philology more generally.

Tianhu Hao

Shakespeare’s and Milton’s Impact on Chinese Literature and Culture: A Preliminary Comparison

Both Shakespeare and Milton have had an important influence upon modern Chinese literature since the 1830s. Based on the rich sources recently accessible in Chinese and English databases, this article reconsiders the two writers’ impact on modern China, especially in the indigenization of the sonnet, the rise of huaju (spoken drama), and the Chinese adoption of the epic. In a sense, the two English literary masters have helped to shape modern China by participating actively in the decisive transformation of Chinese literature and culture.

Hae Yeon Kim

Korean Non-Church Movement and John Milton

This study examines the close relationship between John Milton and Korean Non-Church movement in the early 20th century. During the period of Japanese colonization, Kim, Kyo Shin , a founder of Korean Non-Church movement, claimed to return to the spirit of the Reformation by challenging the clerical authority and criticizing corruption of the Korean church. The Korean Non-Church movement was “a Christian movement without the accompanying rites and institutions”(Hwang 26). Kim’s main idea is revealed in his short article “Benjamin Franklin and his Churchism”: “rather than trying to follow their [the church hierarchy’s] own doctrines and rituals constructed by their reckless use of the words of the Bible I will seek to drink the truth from the fountain of life as it is contained in the Word”(281). Kim’s strong belief on the spiritual autonomy aligns with his lamentation on the loss of a nation’s sovereignty. In 1930s when most Korean churches were in collusion with Japanese power, Kim’s article, “Sadness on the death of a frog” published in the Non-Church movement periodical, Seoungseo Joseon(Bible Joseon), powerfully captured the disastrous situation in the brutal colonial era. Their periodicals were burnt and ceased to publish. During the brutal suppression, Kim Gyo-Shin and other members led Bible study meetings and read a lot of Christian literature classics. And Milton’s works were considered as one of the most important Christian literatures. Ryu Seok Dong, one of the founding members of Seoungseo Joseon, said that “there was a time when I was fascinated by John Milton.” By examining historical documents and Seongseo Joseon, this study reveals and traces Milton’s influence on Korean Non-Church movement.

Yulia Ryzhik and Taro Ishiguro

Milton in Japan: Paradise Lost in Translation

This paper considers the principles and practices of translating Milton’s Paradise Lost into Japanese from the 1930s to the present, especially the ways in which renderings of Milton’s epic in a vastly different linguistic idiom can illuminate his poetic methods. In addition to its significant tradition of literary translation—with major flourishings occurring in the 1930s and 1970s—Japan is a prolific producer of scholarship on Milton, which is diligently summarized in regular updates to benefit the English-speaking Miltonist community. Yet aside from brief descriptions of existing translations and their overall qualities, little work has been done to articulate what these translations lose and what they find in Paradise Lost. We see literary translation as a valuable tool for understanding the reception and literary interpretation of Milton’s poetry in Japan. Following Hiroko Sano’s analytical account of her own translation of Samson Agonistes, we propose a comparative examination of several available Japanese translations of Paradise Lost, through which we hope to gain insight into the aspects of Milton’s verse that are considered most salient and essential to the conveyance of meaning, both literary and theological.

Particular attention will be devoted to the new, as yet unpublished translation of Paradise Lost by Shohachi Fukuda, whose earlier verse translation of The Faerie Queene (2016) met with critical and scholarly acclaim and won the Japan Translation Award. Fukuda rendered Spenser’s epic in an appropriately supple, mellifluous style, often opting for plain, colloquial diction that nevertheless serves to evoke allegorical ambiguity. His stylistic principles and aims in Paradise Lost (Shitsurakuen) are much the same: to convey the rhythm and dynamism of Milton’s original while distilling the epic to its most essential elements for the reader. The translation is currently presented as a series of YouTube videos, suggesting the text’s accessibility even for an inexpert reader and its potential as a future audiobook. Thus, although interest in Milton in Japan is largely limited to academia, this paper will also consider possibilities for making Milton’s poetry more accessible to the general readership in Japan and the feasibility of adaptation into audio-visual media, both traditional and contemporary.

This paper is co-authored with Taro Ishiguro (Meiji University, Tokyo).

Katie Calloway

Natural Theology, Consent, and Care in Baxter and Milton

This paper will explore a plot of theological ground that Baxter and Milton share: both oppose what Paul Maxwell has called “the trauma of doctrine” by maintaining a viable and important role for reason in the life of faith. Finding a correlation between “maximalist theological beliefs” and psychological trauma from abuse, Maxwell argues: “Reformed conceptions of divine sovereignty and human depravity are so strong . . . that there is an obvious psychological risk that these doctrines will only further diminish what embers of agency and dignity remain after trauma has done its work on the psyche.”

Unusually among contemporary authors of natural theology, Baxter frames his 1667 Reasons for the Christian Religion as pastoral care, aimed at helping doubting Christians: “Because it is taken for a shame, to doubt of our Christianity,” he writes, “this hindereth many from uttering their doubts, who never get them well resolved, but remain half Infidels within . . . though they are ashamed to tell their needs: And prudent Charity will relieve those who are ashamed to beg.” Baxter goes on to attack hyper-Reformed church leaders who block off this avenue of relief, calling them “over-wise men, who need themselves no reason for their Religion, and judge accordingly of others, and think that those men who rest not in the authority of Jesus, should rest in theirs.” Allowing Christians to use and trust their minds in matters of faith, Baxter believed, could (among other things) protect them from leaders who abuse their power.

Despite all the theological and ecclesiological ground that separates the two, Baxter’s position in these moments resonates remarkably well with Milton’s arch condemnation of “forcers of conscience” in his prose as well as his lyric poetry of the 1640s and 50s. Most strikingly, Milton gives this idea of “prudent charity” narrative legs in Paradise Lost, as God refuses to compel belief, instead endowing humans and angels with reason in the first place. Baxter defends his practice of natural theology, though more reservedly, on the same grounds: “Philosophy is found to be but a searching and wrangling about things which no man reacheth,” he writes, “yet an inquisitive desire we have.” In the epic, Milton repeatedly makes space for rational beings to question, disagree, and think things through—without damning consequences: “to ask or search I blame thee not,” Raphael says. This paper will compare Milton’s and Baxter’s ideas of what constitutes blameless asking and searching and consider the implications of their shared vindication of reason.

Jason Kerr

Reconsidering Consent: The Cases of Baxter and Milton

In seventeenth-century England “consent” is an important keyword that plays across such significant domains as religion, politics, and the increasing emphasis on rationalism. This paper will illustrate the complexity of the territory by considering the disparate cases of Richard Baxter and John Milton. Neither man quite conforms to what both contemporary reception and broad scholarly opinion might lead one to expect. Both operate within the broad intellectualist tradition, which follows Thomas Aquinas in holding that the intellect’s judgments determine the will: the intellect’s assent leads to the will’s consent. Even though Aquinas had been dead for nearly four hundred years, the precise details of this framework remained hotly contested, especially touching questions of justification and the perseverance of the saints.

Baxter (in)famously cast consent as a single peppercorn offered as a token of homage to the redeemer that would allow a repentant sinner to stay on his land. For Baxter, the peppercorn was a negligible token that served as a ward against antinomianism, but for many of his readers his parable not only gave human works a role in justification but also upset the proper function of intellect and will, giving too much autonomy to the latter. On this point, the “Reformed Pastor” seemed insufficiently Reformed. Meanwhile, A Holy Commonwealth (1659) emphasizes will by authorizing political resistance in cases when magistrates act coercively, i.e., in violation the capacity of the will to consent.

Baxter was significantly more “Calvinist” than Milton, who as a champion of liberty and “Arminian” has a reputation for emphasizing freedom of will. For instance, both Areopagitica and Paradise Lost contain variations on the idea that “reason is but choosing,” which seems to locate reason itself in the will. But Milton’s writings do not bear this reading out. He writes of “consent” primarily in political contexts, as in the repeated references to popular consent in Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio (1651). Theologically, as in De Doctrina Christiana, his emphasis falls strongly on the intellect: the road to consent lies through persuasion. Such is also the case in his political writings: if popular consent underwrites legitimacy, it is to be gained by appeal to the intellect, not to the will. “Reason is but choosing” thus signals the intellect’s role in choice, not the will’s.

Consequently, the republican, Independent, pro-regicide Milton ends up looking a bit more theologically conservative than the avowedly moderate, anti-regicide, anti-republican Baxter. This state of affairs reminds us that the facts on the ground in the 1640s and 1650s were often scrambled in ways that defy neat categorization, obliging scholars to look beyond polemical labels like “Calvinist” and “Arminian” to the messy details of debates that unfolded across intersecting discursive fields. Such work is indispensable if we wish to understand the complex afterlives of seventeenth century thinking about consent.

Andrew McKendry

Milton and the Modern Critique of Merit

Once the jewel in the crown of American exceptionalism if not capitalism more broadly, meritocracy has fallen on hard times in the last few years; a slew of recent books, from Markovits’ The Meritocracy Trap (2019) to Sandel’s The Tyranny of Merit (2020), has critiqued meritocracy not merely as a distortive myth, but as an inherently cruel and unjust system. Yet, even as these critiques acknowledge the affective and mythic power of meritocracy—“meritocracy’s charisma,” so to speak—they chronically fail to engage with this paradigm of distributive justice as a structure of affect and narrative. Never himself one to play the prodigal, Milton labored long in the epochal debate over “merit,” and in Paradise Lost he both promotes and problematizes the concept, often in ways that illuminate modern discussions. As his strained response to the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) suggests, his attitude towards meritocracy was nuanced, perhaps even profoundly ambivalent; though he proffered meritocracy as an ideal system of justice, he simultaneously recognized the dangers of such a system in a postlapsarian world. This tension is dramatized in Paradise Lost, in which Christ’s “merit” serves most immediately to displace the logic of “birthright,” a dynamic essential to subsequent political discourse from Jefferson to Obama, while Satan, driven by his “sense of injured merit,” exemplifies the incendiary resentment that meritocracy arguably engenders. It is in Paradise Regained, in which Christ undergoes “just trial ere [he] merit / [his] exaltation,” that Milton offers a fulfillment, if not solution, to the misapprehensions and aporias of the original. Yet, what this human-scaled poem illustrates (in a salutary counterpoint to modern critiques) is that meritocracy hinges less on philosophical and social coherence than on affect and optics—on the way that anticipations and projections are mediated by scale and technology.

Alison Searle

Innocence and Excremental Whiteness: John Milton, James Baldwin, and Reading with Care

In Areopagitica, John Milton figures ‘blank virtue’ as ‘an excremental whiteness’, which has been glossed as an expansion of Jesus’s critique of false shows of piety as excremental. Whether implicit or explicit, Milton’s phrase, ‘excremental whiteness’, as a way of defining or depicting untested ‘blank virtue’ linguistically encapsulates some discomfiting racial intersections. This paper seeks to interrogate these by exploring the tensions between Milton’s model of virtuous striving and promiscuous reading and James Baldwin’s suggestion that any solution to the problems of ahistorical innocence must be rooted in love. Baldwin’s critique of innocence in The Fire Next Time inflects an historically contextualized interpretation of Milton’s term ‘excremental whiteness’ in several ways. Innocence itself ‘constitutes the crime….For these innocent people have no hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it’. Ahistoricity is an essential precondition to preserving such innocence. For Milton, purity must prove itself through exposure to its contaminants: his figure of excretion can be interpreted as a witness to the necessity of evil. Baldwin’s ahistorical innocence and Milton’s excremental whiteness are both rooted in a lack of self-knowledge; a refusal to abandon ‘a fugitive and cloistered virtue’ in pursuit of an ethical heroism that is critical to mounting any meaningful resistance. In Areopagitica, Milton argues that such excremental whiteness can be countered by a virtue achieved through promiscuous reading and exposure to trial: ‘He that can apprehend yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true warfaring Christian’. Baldwin sees escape from the crime of innocence only through: ‘Love that takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within’; a commitment to abandoning white supremacist narratives of American history by contemporaries wedded to an ‘infantile…sense of being made happy,’ even if this means risking their own identities. Baldwin’s critique of white American innocence illuminates the historically formed contradictions inherent within Milton’s figure of ‘excremental whiteness’ as a gloss on ‘blank virtue’. However, there are also important affinities between Baldwin’s emphasis on love as a relinquishing of fear, to the point of self-dissolution, as a state of grace and an opportunity to reach maturity, and Milton’s stress on exposure to evil as necessary to true virtue. This paper assesses the ethics and risks inherent to a hermeneutics of reading that takes seriously both Milton’s commitment to promiscuity or exposure to evil as a prerequisite for virtue and Baldwin’s injunction to abandon innocence as a precondition of growth. Is productive discomfort essential to the process of reading with care?

Ben Card

Cataloging Milton

The business of enumerating the heresies of John Milton is a durable one. Not just his earliest commentators such as Patrick Hume, Thomas Newton, and Richard Bentley took note of Milton’s perceived heterodoxies, sometimes decrying them and other times rewriting them or whitewashing. Even when Milton was alive and at mid-career, a high-temperature culture of heresy-hunting swept up his public writings into catalogues of impermissible belief. Thus editions of Ephraim Pagitt’s Heresiography published after Milton’s Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1643) add the category of “Divorcers” to their lists of sects, opportunistically implying that Milton’s idiosyncratic and unloved tractate was just one example of a body of literature advocating that, in a facsimile of Milton’s own language, if a wife “be not an helper, nor meet for him,” the husband “may put her away” (6th ed., p. 234). Just six years after Milton’s death, in the overheated climate of the Popish Plot, churchman Edward Pelling in 1680 claims that Milton “was a member of a Popish Clubb… he was a Jesuit in disguise” ( Good Old Way, p. 114-15), overlooking Milton’s career-long antagonism toward the Catholic Church.

But modern critics too remain invested in whether Milton was or was not this or that. The revivified controversy about Milton’s authorship of the long theological tract De Doctrina Christiana recently took a fresh turn with a new stylometric analysis by James M. Clawson and Hugh F. Wilson. Not content to let their stylometric analysis speak for itself against Milton’s authorship, the authors marshal internal textual evidence from Milton’s writings against those heresies DDC most clearly advances: Socinianism, Arianism, Arminianism, and mortalism (“Revisiting the Authorship Question,” pp. 169-77). This evidentiary superabundance points to the discomfort that Milton should deviate from an orthodox English Christianity the terms of which were in the years of his life being actively hammered out. And Nicholas McDowell in part one of his new biography of Milton takes specific aim at Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns’ earlier account of Milton’s “Arminian masque” (John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought, p. 83), redefining what looks like Milton’s proto-Laudianism as a youthful enthusiasm for “a Platonic philosophy of virtue that does not seem to require the doctrine of justification of grace” ( Poet of Revolution, p. 266).

This paper takes a long view of Milton criticism, identifying in modern scholarship the methods of some of Milton’s earliest readers. The scholarly impetus to characterize and catalogue Milton’s theology and politics persists from the earliest days of his readership, even as the stakes of our determinations of Milton’s orthodoxy have become rather more academic than censorious. First, this long critical habit seems to tell us something rich about our own practice as historians and literary critics. Second, our contemporary heresy-hunting, harmless as it may be, reproduces a logic that Milton himself might have disavowed. His 1673 Of True Religion gently lampoons sectarian categories altogether just as the epistle to the redisputed DDC argues for churches of one based in sincere and personal confrontations with scripture.

Tobias Gregory

Milton’s Ecclesiology: Continuity and Change

We know where Milton started out, ecclesiologically speaking: as an evidently conformist young man who intended to become a minister of the Church of England. We know where he ended up: as an unaffiliated, anti-institutional dissenting Protestant, a sect of one. We know less about when and how he got there. Milton’s ecclesiological thinking is most fully spelled out in three places: in his antiprelatical tracts of 1641-2, in his 1659 pamphlets Of Civil Power and Likeliest Means, and in De Doctrina Christiana. Unsurprisingly given their polemical contexts, the vernacular writings say more about what Milton opposed than what he supported. His positive view, such as it is, is presented in the Latin theological treatise. One can’t simply treat these works as three stages, because of the genre differences, and because DDC as we have it is an unfinished work dictated and revised over time, so it’s a conjectural matter when Milton arrived at any of the positions it takes. With these caveats in mind, this paper will a synoptic view of these works. Its central questions are these: how fully is his mature view of the church already present in his early 1640s writings? Wherein continuity, wherein change?

Ali McTar

Fallen Father: John Milton, Antinomianism, and the Case Against Adam

Milton’s story as a radical, I need hardly point out, is out of favor. For centuries it was standard to think of Milton as a Puritan, but over the course of the past three decades, counter-revolutionary historiography, or ‘revisionism,’ even put Milton’s Puritanism in doubt. Most scholars remain sheepish about Milton’s religious radicalism. But the revisionist critique is less and less convincing in light of recent work on the history and literature of early modern radical religion. T.D. Bozeman, David Como, Ariel Hessayon, and Nigel Smith have made important advancements in the historiography of Antinomianism. Still, no scholar has yet brought these findings to bear on Milton. My task, then, is to see Milton’s argument in the light cast by the historical English Antinomians. I argue that early modern literary studies must see beyond their secondhand reliance on the counter-revolutionary, or revisionist, historiography of the last three generations. It is time to reverse directions and reconsider Milton as an English Parliamentarian radical, inspired by a freedom-loving branch of Puritan theology called Antinomianism. In this paper, I revise while updating two unlikely and nearly outmoded modes of inquiry: Christopher Hill’s socio-political history of early modern religion and Stanley Fish’s Surprised by Sin. What I offer is a new literary theory of Antinomianism. My position is both simple and radical: Antinomianism yields its own theory for reading; that there are no rules or methods for interpreting a text; that the reader need not defer to the text’s authority; and that Paradise Lost offers its readers an ongoing training in how not to treat it like Scripture.

Elizabeth Sauer

Restoration Schismatics: Milton, Marvell, and the Legacy of John Hales

What did the Restoration era look like from the perspective of nonconformity? What was the fate of the sects and schisms defended early in the seventeenth century by John Hales, who had supplied some of the variously sized stones and precepts used to build up the heterogeneous Protestant nation prophesied by John Milton? A set of varying beliefs, gestures, principles, narratives, and relationships, nonconformity was constituted by theological beliefs and political-ecclesiastical objections to conformity with the Church of England. Paradoxically, writings by and about schismatics connect the literary narrative mapped here. A review of the Restoration reception history of schismatic tracts produced by Hales, Milton, and Marvell brings the key animadverters in the arena where the terms of conformity and nonconformity were debated.

Neo-Arminian, proto-Latitudinarian, and suspected Socinian John Hales had criticized the Church for spawning schism. At the same time, he held a liberal position on liberty of conscience in religious, civil, and political matters, which was shared by clerics and philosophers of the Great Tew circle in Oxfordshire. Composed ca. 1636, his best-known work, which serves as a touchstone — and ironically as a catalyst and a constant — in this paper, was the irenic Tract Concerning Schisme and Schismaticks. A Tract circulated widely in manuscript before being printed, like most of Hales’s sermons and writings, without his knowledge. It appeared in 1642, “an unhappy time,” writes churchman and royalist Thomas Long in Mr. Hales’s Treatise of Schism Examined and Censured (1678), referring to the outbreak of the war for which Hales’s pamphlet served as a theological battleground well into the Restoration period.

Curiously, the relationship between nonconformity and conformity in the Restoration was one of interdependence. Disputants on both sides waged theological debates on the terms and conditions of comprehension, religious indifferentism, and the dynamics of aesthetics and politics, all of which frame the contours of Protestant nationhood. The key texts that frame this paper are literary and polemical retorts to Hales’s Tract Concerning Schisme (i.e. by Butler, Stubbes, Conold, etc.); Milton’s Areopagitica and Of True Religion, Hæresie, Schism, Toleration; and Marvell’s two-part Rehearsal Transpros’d — animadversions on the anti-dissenter arguments of Samuel Parker. Taking a cue from the titles of Marvell’s Rehearsal Transpros’d and Gillian Wright’s Restoration Transposed (2019), I offer a reading of the Restoration “transprosed.” I ask whether traditional studies of Restoration literature, largely representing the monarchy’s pro-establishment court culture and conformity in theology and poetics, should be recast in light of the extensive evidence of the preoccupation with schism and schismatics. The main writings thus surveyed here take the form of polemics and animadversions — the “workhorse genre of seventeenth-century religious and political controversy’ (Dzelzainis and Patterson, eds. Marvell, The Prose Works, vol. 1), and notably the frequently linked and intersecting controversialist literatures of Hales, Milton, and Marvell.

David Ainsworth

Milton’s Queer Spirit

Paradise Lost states outright that Milton’s angels can assume either or both sexes. It follows a long tradition in presenting Father and Son as male, although presumably they share in the angelic power to change their shapes. But what about the Holy Spirit? Milton refers to it indirectly through the figure of Urania, but does that make it female? When it descends in the form of a dove in Paradise Regained, no gender can be discerned. Can the concept of gender even be applied to this being? This paper extends my argument that Milton’s Holy Spirit must be understood through its function, not its form, and sets what Milton writes about the Spirit’s function against the way he represents it through analogy or allusion, to suggest that the Spirit lacks a clearly definable gender but can nevertheless be understand as being queer in its function. Building upon comparisons of spiritual communion to sexual ecstasy found in scripture and in the poetry of John Donne, Milton works through the material implications of communion and arrives at a model which blurs the boundaries between these two experiences. In Milton, the Holy Spirit’s work and its largely disembodied nature render it most likely to take part in human experiences of union and communion. It can be best described, then, not by the word “genderfluid” but by the word “queer,” as it plays a central part in the figuring forth of a desire for communion which, while not sexual in nature, is sufficiently sexualized that in trying to discern its function, Milton must grapple with forms of sexuality outside heterosexuality but within the scope of human experience as he understands it.

Narugopal Mukherjee

Transgression of Heteronormativity in Paradise Lost: A Queer Study

John Milton’s Paradise Lost, despite its all-pervasive biblical content, has very explicit elements of queer transgression. Even in such a text with a misogynistic bias, there is a strong undercurrent of queer and feminist readings. The language Milton uses, the portrayal of characters, and the depiction of scenes of reproduction speak of the queer contents consistently present in the text. The landscapes described in the course of the epic, Chaos and Hell, and again, the queer and masculine character of reproduction, such as Sin being born out of Satan’s head and Eve being born from Adam’s rib speak of the transgression of heteronormativity in Milton’s text.

In Book I Milton refers to the sulphurous earth of Hell and in “his womb was hid metallic ore”. This masculine pronoun subverts the gender specificities found in the traditional language. Hell’s body is exploited violently and also sexually The fallen angels open up a “spacious wound” in Hell, paralleling female reproductive organ. The “ribs of gold” that those angels prepare allude to Adam’s ribs wherefrom Eve was born. These “ribs of gold” and the masculine womb of Hell throw a challenge to the procreative authority of God the Father.

Sin becomes the victim of reproduction and sexual violence, quite in contrast with her queer birth, and thereby illustrates the epic’s problematic perspective towards women. Despite her queer procreation Sin becomes a victim of incestuous sex with Satan, her father, as well as with Death, her son, resulting in the birth if hounds and then in the painful and perpetual childbirth of women. Satan’s action not only challenges the authority of God but it also transgresses sexual and reproductive normativity. Sin and Satan, traditionally heralding the hetero-patriarchal norms of the universe, are queer characters and depict the discursive nature of queerness in the text.

Eve is produced from the body of Adam as per the desire of God, and it again opens up a queer discourse as the creation excludes the involvement of the female body in the reproduction and involves instead two male characters. Adam is her progenitor and her lover at the same time and is comparable to Sin’s incestuous relationship with Satan. Again, Eve’s narcissism expressed in her look at the lake immediately after her creation unfolds her queer lustful passion for her feminine self in her very image on the lake. Her sexual desire for her image instils a sense of queerness in her.

Again, in Book VIII Raphael refers to love and sex among the angels as genderless, and free from any restraint or obstacle. The angels transgress gender binaries through their homoerotic love and sex. All these challenge our heteronormative conventions and practices, and speak of gender perspectives usually ignored in traditional criticism of Milton.

Theo Northcraft

Rhetoric that Doesn’t Matter: Persuasion and Trans Satan in Paradise Lost

Queer and trans theorists have analyzed angelic corporeality in Paradise Lost at length. As Julie Crawford notes, the consensus is that Paradise Lost imagines “the most elevated state of embodiment” as “the absence of binary sex” (81). I borrow from Crawford’s trans analytic mode, which she construes as “more interested in mobile experiences than fixed identities,” and apply it to one figure’s malleable embodiment: Satan’s. At several key moments in Paradise Lost, Satan uses shapeshifting and speechmaking to deceive Sin, Uriel, and Eve. One might expect the moments that feature Satan’s manipulated matter and manipulative rhetoric to illuminate the ingenious mechanisms behind his deceptions. Neil Forsyth, for instance, holds Satan’s speechmaking skills in such high regard that he considers the Satan-serpent of Book IX “the first literary critic” (268). I argue against Forsyth’s articulate, smooth-tongued Satan and instead suggest that Satan’s malleable matter––that is, his transness––makes up for his otherwise dubious rhetorical skills. Paradise Lost privileges physical form over speechmaking as a persuasive strategy and method of deception. I hold that this insight only emerges from an attunement to the emergent field of trans theory, and that it challenges us to reconsider how fraudulence, fallibility, and form function in Paradise Lost.

John Staines

Milton’s Raptures and the Queer Sublime

Peri Hypsous, the account of the sublime attributed to Longinus, recognizes that lofty flights of rhetoric and poetry come at the risk of failure, that an inspired voice reaching towards greatness is likely to fall short, its glory sputtering out. It is for that reason the title page of the 1636 Latin translation pairs an eagle flying towards the sun with Phaeton crashing down to earth: some will soar, while others will fall. As David Quint has shown, the failed flights of Phaeton and Icarus are central to Milton’s prophetic voice in Paradise Lost. Their sublime failures structure not just Satan’s parodies of divine glory but Milton’s own audacious claims to prophecy. The blind insight of Milton’s sublime comes from failure, shame, and anxiety even more than from his bold daring. Indeed, Milton’s poetic voice, in Stephen Guy-Bray’s account, derives its creative force from abjection, and that his sublimity springs from abjection marks Milton’s voice as queer. This paper will explore how the Miltonic sublime changes when we recognize it as queer in this sense, as an affective experience marked by difference and estrangement from the normative. Building on the readings in David Orvis’s collection Queer Milton, this paper will frame Milton’s sublime as a queer experience. The sublime is queer in that it claims access to a knowledge that is at once embodied and beyond physical limits, one that is born in an abject body that aims to rise above its bodily shame. It is an excess born of lack, a certitude that is also uncertain. Paradise Lost follows ancient tradition in expressing such sublime inspiration as being seized with rapture, with images of being seized, rapt, and raped (Latin, raptus) running through the poem, affecting the bodies and souls of both angels and humans. Such images have their roots in Ovid’s queer and monstrous metamorphoses where he forges links between poetic invention and divine violation. Such raptures are dangerous experiences, destructive negations of human voices that can paradoxically give voice to hidden truths. In Paradise Lost, those sublime raptures appear first in demonic raptures and rapes that consume and destroy, most horrifically in the monstrous offspring of Satan and Sin. It is the interweaving of both forms of rapture, divine and demonic, that bring together the abject shame and anxiety out of which Milton aspires to create his queer sublime.

Callum Bowler

‘Of What Resounds in Fable or Romance’: How Milton Reads the Medieval

While Milton’s debt to the classical tradition goes without saying, recent studies have begun to illuminate a less visited strand of Miltonic inspiration: the literary and historical artefacts of the Middle Ages. Previous research in this area, however, has been relatively narrow in focus, typically considering the influence of one particular text, subject or motif amid the highly populated expanse of Milton’s poetic vision. By contrast, this paper will examine how a fuller conception of his attitudes to the period may be uncovered, particularly by investigating Milton’s practice in reading and processing medieval material.

This paper will first present a broad overview of the most fertile thematic fields in which to consider Milton’s study of the medieval; of the historical, theological, and literary themes and problems which Milton engaged with through his reading of medieval material. From his difficult and antagonistic relationship with British chronicle, through his frustration with scholastic theology, into his evolving relationship with romance and medieval lyric, a dedicated – perhaps intentionally constructed – programme of engagement with the medieval may be uncovered. It is in these challenging and frequently oppositional contexts which the techniques of Milton’s reading and of his scholarly practice may become particularly clear. Milton’s creative vision can be observed forming and reasserting itself amid or against such challenging material; throughout the strategically manipulated quotations of the Commonplace Book, the targeting of marginal annotations upon the medievalist worlds of the Shakespeare folio, or the twisting digressions of his prose, particularly the History of Britain and the Defenses. Through close reading of Milton’s initial reactions to and subsequent representations of the poets, chroniclers, and historical figures of England’s Middle Ages and of those who depict them, insight may be gained into the psychological factors, political imperatives and literary sensibilities which lie behind them. Similarly, by investigating Milton’s consequent literary activity, including throughout his own self-reflective record of his approaches to an enormous range of generically varied medieval(ist) material, we may begin to realise Milton’s attitude to both the perceived aesthetic and moral worth of his sources, leading to an observation of how this frequently antagonistic relationship is manifest in his more polished poetry and prose.

In this, it will be shown how the medieval world, and Renaissance medievalism, is necessarily important to how Milton works. His preconceptions on such matter do not only affect the form and selection of his gathered reading material in striking and often inventive ways, reflecting Milton’s own sense of historical and literary periodisation. This process is also vital to how Milton intentionally constructs his own conception of a British national history and identity, and subsequently its effect on his views of role of the poet as religious and political guide in the early modern state.

Mandy Green

“Content with these British Islands as My World”: Milton’s Neo-Latin Poems for Charles Diodati and the Search for a “Fit Audience”

In a number of famous autobiographical passages in his prose works, Milton looked back on his youth, forward to the future, voicing a growing understanding of the precise nature of his vocation; indeed, how he might play a part in advancing and celebrating what he trusted to be the divinely appointed destiny of his nation. These personal passages in the public arena of polemical debate are fascinating but familiar territory; the three Latin poems for Charles Diodati, by contrast, have been relatively neglected, yet offer a private viewing of a portrait of the artist as a young man, as Milton had sketched it at the time.

The disillusionment that clouded Milton’s first impressions of Cambridge is voiced feelingly in the wittily nuanced Elegia Prima, while Elegia Sexta, for all its affable and accommodating manner, also offers serious reflections on the conditions necessary to nurture poetic creativity and captures what seems to be a pivotal moment in Milton’s understanding of his own poetic vocation. Although both these Latin verse-epistles are directed at Diodati as their immediate recipient, they enabled Milton to engage a European audience when recitations of his Latin verses won him acclaim in the Florentine academies. Written after Milton’s return from Italy, the Epitaphium Damonis concludes the Poemata – the Latin section of the 1645 Collection. In this pastoral elegy, Milton laments the death of Diodati, his first ‘fit audience’, celebrates the literary fellowship he had enjoyed in Florence, adumbrates a turning from Latin to English as his main poetic medium, and a strengthening of his resolve to write an epic in English that would reach the whole nation.

Ann Baynes Coiro

The Politics of Assembling: Milton, Herrick, Cavendish

During England’s revolutions and interregnum, Milton (1645 Poems), Herrick (1648 Hesperides) and Cavendish (1653 Poems and Fancies) deliberately arranged and published poems. These gatherings are at once symptomatic and predictive of literary change. By putting these three poets together I hope to reorient our understanding of 17thC poetry and to illuminate Milton’s shifting role in the charged politics of literary form.

Although it is unlikely that Milton’s Poems directly influenced Herrick, both Milton and Herrick are associated by their publisher Humphrey Moseley, the important royalist curator of seventeenth-century poetry (and drama) as it emerged into print during the English civil wars. Cavendish is then influenced by both Milton and Herrick. Considering these three apparently disparate authors together, I will focus on the politics of poetic assemblage in the 1640s and 1650s: what it meant and what it enabled. I’ll also glance ahead to Milton’s eventual resistance, already becoming apparent in the 1645 Poems.

Milton and Herrick assemble poems that tell a sequential story about their private and public lives and poetic ambitions while also commenting on the political situation in 1645 and 1648 respectively. Margaret Cavendish is now recognized as a major seventeenth-century writer across many forms, including philosophical essays, plays and works of prose fiction, but her Poems and Fancies (1653; revised in 1664 and 1668) has been difficult to place: still often regarded as an unstructured jumble of poems on Lucretian atomism, dialogues, allegories, fairy poems, and poems responding to the civil war. Yet her Poems and Fancies is a carefully structured narrative of a mind at work during revolutionary times in dialogues that include Milton and Herrick.

Herrick’s vast and teasing assemblage has usually seemed an oddity, brilliant yet isolated. Putting Hesperides together with that other reluctant print poet, John Milton, and his 1645 Poems changes our understanding of mid-century poetry and its newly public role. Adding Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies demonstrates the development of a new way of thinking developing out of the old habit of anthology-making: an innovation with important consequences. Over the course of the 17thC, the epigram, a classical form significantly built on rhyme and witty “turns,” staged a literary coup. The epigram is the understructure of the sonnet and of metaphysical poetry’s compact complexity; it was then gathered together to build innovative long-form poems (Upon Appleton House, for example), personal narratives (Herrick and Milton), or sequences capable of testing theological and natural philosophical questions (Cavendish).

Milton’s 1645 Poems demonstrates both his early engagement with epigram and rhyme and the beginning of his increasing resistance. By the time he publishes Paradise Lost Milton polemically embraces the “ancient liberty” of musical blank verse, rejecting “the troublesome and modern bondage of Riming.” Revisiting the 1645 Poems together with Herrick and Cavendish’s assembled poems, this paper aims to widen our frame of understanding of how different poetic forms became versatile—and contested— tools for thinking through a revolutionary moment: and Milton’s part in that story.

Danila Sokolov

Lyric Shipwrecks: Writing the Disaster in “Lycidas” and Seventeenth-Century Poetry

“Lycidas” is mainly concerned with the nexus of death and mourning, the resources of genre, and the nature poetic authority, but the powerful background to Milton’s pastoral elegy, as Steven Metz has argued, is the uncanny, inhuman world of the ocean, what Metz calls “marine alterity.” The ceaseless work of the waves, winds, rocks, and sea animals and birds worries not only Milton, however, but numerous other poets of the age when the ocean acquired an unprecedented geopolitical, economic, and cultural significance in the English imagination. This paper will investigate how seventeenth-century lyric poetry, including Milton’s “Lycidas” and lyrics by William Davenant, Charles Cotton, Thomas Carew, Mildmay Fane, as well as texts included in Justo Eduardo King naufrago (1638), attempts to think through the encounter between lyric poiesis on the one hand and the ocean’s unsettling, overwhelming powers that manifest themselves in shipwrecks on the other. Drawing upon Maurice Blachot’s writings on the disaster as a form of human disorientation (a withdrawal of linguistic, technological, and temporal solidity), and on Timothy Morton’s concept of hyperobjects (phenomena so massively distributed in time and space, such as the ocean, that they can only be experienced fractionally), I will trace how Milton and other early modern lyric poets respond to the immensity of the challenge the ocean presents to human making, often figured in these lyrics as the art of shipbuilding. There is a string of obvious incommensurabilities between lyric writing and shipwreck: between the lyric’s commitment to the present moment and inability to pinpoint the precise moment of disaster; between the miniature scale of lyric poetry and the size of the ocean, between the lyric’s formal intensity and the impossibility of thinking the ocean as a demarcated object, between the lyric attention to sonic patterns and the chaotic soundscapes of the storm… This paper is interested in how, as a result of encountering ocean waters, storms, and shipwrecks, the lyric genre is forced to come to terms with writing the disaster and to reimagine its own paradigmatic principles, such as textual delineation, formal regularity, bounded whole, singularity, and subject-object divide.

Gabriela Villanueva Noriega

Milton’s Prophetic Ambiguities in Lycidas

A long critical tradition has taken into consideration Milton’s construction of prophetic voice in Paradise Lost (Kerrigan, Wittreich, Lieb, Lewalski) as paradigmatic of the ways in which poetry can reveal “things invisible to the mortal sight”. Although different people have noticed and pointed out that the construction of Milton’s poetic persona in the epic poem is not without its spaces of ambivalence, the voice in Paradise Lost seems to assert poetic powers and trust in the possibility of revealing hidden truths by means of words. Prophecy in the earlier poems, particularly in Lycidas, can be located at more sites of indeterminacy. While San Peter is constructed as a voice that can bring down the world before him and that speaks in the cryptic language of apocalyptic vision, Milton seems to use different modalities of the prophetic tradition, particularly Orphic and Judeo-Christian models, to test out the possibilities of song and word to bring about change in the world. One of the ways in which poetic powers are put to test is by reassessing the possibilities of consolation and sublimation offered by the elegy. The elegy can be understood as a genre that intends to bring order and sense back into the world by sublimating pain and loss into poetic possibility, a possibility that seems defrauded in specific passages in Lycidas. The pastoral, in its most conventional mode, places hope in the possibility of the world’s renewal by means of words by invoking an ideal that is attained during the moment of poetical rapture. This connection to the ideal is achieved by means of contemplative revelation and not by means of active participation in the transformation of the world. In Milton’s later prose and poetry, a gap seems to open up between the promise of a contemplative transformation of the world and the actual possibilities that words have to bring about change in the minds of “fit audiences,” particularly in connection to political action. The purpose of this paper is to reexamine the ambiguous modalities of prophetic tone in connection to poetic power and political agency in Lycidas.

Lucas Simpson

Hooker and Milton on the Sacred Constitution of Political Authority

Despite his reputation as a progenitor of Laudianism, Richard Hooker set out an intellectual project that is in many ways compatible with Milton’s. Grounded on a contractual theory of government and an account of natural law as reigning sovereign over worldly rulers, Hooker’s vision of ecclesiastical polity anticipates the ceremonialism of the early Stuart Church but stands at odds with its support for the divine right of monarchs and its more stringent the justification of episcopacy. Hooker offers both an important intellectual backbone for the ceremonial reforms of the early Stuart Church—reforms that may have positively influenced Milton’s earliest religious development—and resistance to the absolutist tendencies that went along with these reforms. By the time Milton began writing his antiprelatical tracts, however, Hooker had been adopted as the sole intellectual domain of the Laudian establishment. By reading Milton’s writings of the 1640s alongside Hooker’s Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, my paper will first clarify the fundamental points of continuity between Hooker’s and Milton’s conceptions of the source of political authority. I thus reappraise Joan S. Bennett’s claim in the celebrated Reviving Liberty (1982) that “Milton’s free commonwealth, rather than Laud’s High Church or Hale’s Latitudinarian one, is the heir of Hooker’s ‘politic society.’” Whatever the merits and limitations of Bennett’s reading, I want to focus on how Hooker’s conception of the sacramental formation of the social-political body is fundamentally at odds with Milton’s enmity towards national public liturgy. My hypothesis is that Milton’s departure from his ceremonialist upbringing was largely an adventitious response to evolving political alliances, and the contradictions in Milton’s political thought are partly a function of this. If he held any sympathy for the anti-Calvinist tradition of Hooker and Andrewes when he wrote his elegy for the latter, the surface of his prose had largely relinquished it by the 1640s. My concern is not with the seemingly limited direct influence of Hooker on Milton but with what, given their commonalities, the impossibility for Milton of using Hooker as an effective intellectual ally says about the transformation of English intellectual, political, and religious life in the time that separates them—what, in other words, it means that Paradise Lost relocates the sacramental language that animated Hooker’s ecclesiastical polity to an irrecoverable past.

David Lee Vaughan

Reforming the Reformers: The Polemic of John Milton and the Sermons of Stephen Marshall in the 1640s

This essay examines John Milton’s views of reform and sovereignty that emerged alongside clerical voices during the ecclesiastical and political crises of the 1640s, and I will propose some ways that we might view his language as an ideological corrective to the ideas of prominent clergy. Milton’s views and involvement with the clergy are well known: namely, his involvement in the Smectymnuus controversy; his relationship with Thomas Young, which most likely accounts for his involvement with Smectymnuus; his famous declaration of being “Church-outed by the Prelats;” and his further disillusionment with the clergy after the backlash following the publication of the Divorce Tracts. However, sufficient attention has not been devoted to one ministerial voice in particular, the man in Smectymnuus with the initials sm: Stephen Marshall.

Lacking documentary evidence of their acquaintance, ideological connections in printed material offer the most promising avenue to consider Milton alongside Marshall. In The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, Milton calls clergymen “Ministers of sedition,” “Ministers of Mammon instead of Christ,” “Pulpit Firebands,” and “clov’n tongues of falshood and dissention” who have been preaching sermons about the biblical Meroz these past “sev’n yeares.” Foremost in Milton’s mind was Marshall who first preached Meroz Cursed in February 1642. His most famous sermon, Marshall would go on to preach it over 60 times in the ensuing years when he would also serve in the Westminster Assembly. His sermons, Reformation and desolation (Dec 1641) and Meroz Cursed, raise questions about the nature of and necessity for reform, and in a printed letter, A Copy of a Letter . . . (1643), he offers his most concise political opinion about the nature of sovereignty. For Marshall, spiritual salvation and constitutional sovereignty emerge as focal points in the struggle for reformation. Yet, for Milton, intellectual discernment rather than salvation emerges as a key matter for reform, and in Tenure he not only reflects on the nature of sovereignty but he also chastises ministers like Marshall, who “laboured to save the king,” for opposing the execution of Charles I.

By examining select passages from Milton’s prose tracts and Marshall’s sermons, I argue that Milton reimagines and counters Marshall’s views about reform and sovereignty, which allows Milton to reform the very ideas of one of the most prominent clerical voices for reform. Indeed, their competing ideas in public discourse underscore the complexity of the ecclesiastical and constitutional struggle during the civil war period; such a struggle, in effect, provides Milton the opportunity to redefine the process and rewrite the telos of reformation.

Thomas Vozar

In Persona Regis: Salmasius, Milton, and Hobbes on the Personification of the State

Paradise Lost may tower above Milton’s other works today, but among his contemporaries on the Continent in particular his name was long associated with Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio, his polemical rejoinder to the Defensio Regia composed by the French-born Leiden professor Claudius Salmasius. My current project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), explores the Salmasius-Milton controversy as part of a wider perspective on scholarship and politics in the English Revolution. This work has already led to forthcoming publications on the reception of the controversy in the correspondence of the Parisian Guy Patin, on the indexing and bibliographical history of the two polemics, and on some previously unknown epigrams directed against Milton and his nephew John Phillips (1).

In this paper I turn to the subject of the personification of the state as treated by Salmasius and Milton. When Salmasius wrote of the offence committed in persona Regis (“against the person of the King”), using the Latin persona, generally meaning “mask” or “character,” in the sense of French personne or English person, Milton excoriated the Leiden professor for his flawed Latinity (2). But it has not been adequately understood that the philological question at stake here interestingly intersects with a political question, namely that of the personhood or personality of the king and, by extension, the personification of the state. This paper therefore approaches the Salmasius-Milton dispute over the expression in persona regis by placing it in dialogue with the theory of representation set forth by Thomas Hobbes, who used the same phrase in declaring in De Cive that civitatem in persona Regis contineri (“the state is contained in the person of the King”).

Stephen M. Buhler

Milton-ish Mediations: Fry, Penderecki, Hart, and Paradise Lost

Throughout his works, John Milton expresses both profound interest in music and deep suspicion toward its affective powers. The interest expresses itself in frequent allusions to performed music and to music theory; it is also evident in the inherent musicality of Miltonic verse. The suspicion leads Milton, at times, to suggest that the intelligibility of verbal texts is a necessary counterbalance to music’s potential for undermining rationality, especially ethical and political choice. In response, composers since Milton’s own time have engaged with his poetic texts with varying degrees of acceptance or recognition of the author’s ambivalence. In this paper, I will analyze two examples each of two competing responses to the challenge that Milton’s works present to composers. On the one hand (perhaps Milton’s musical sheep?), C. Hubert H. Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens (from Milton’s “At a Solemn Musick”) and John Blackwood McEwen’s Hymn on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity (from Milton’s Nativity Ode) both diligently defer to the poet’s insistence on the primacy of the word. On the other hand (perhaps the musical goats), two interpretations of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Krzysztof Penderecki’s operatic version and Grant Hart’s post-punk song cycle, The Argument, both eschew strict adherence to the Miltonic text. Penderecki brings in 20th-century poet and verse dramatist Christopher Fry to provide the opera’s libretto; Hart chooses William S. Burrough’s textual rearrangement of the epic, Lost Paradise, as his mediator between Milton and music.

Maggie Anne Miller

“With Undiscording Voice”: Discord and Original Sin in Milton’s Poetic Imagination

The relationship between God and his rational creation, humanity, finds frequent expression in Milton’s poetic imagination. Out of this imagination, Milton frames the relationship between God and humanity around two cardinal doctrines: humanity’s prelapsarian state of harmony with God and humanity’s separation from God through original sin. Milton relies upon figurative language and images to articulate this binary of harmony and separation, or concord and discord. Although scholarship has devoted significant attention to images of harmony and discord in Milton’s poetry, very little attention has been given exclusively to discord, and even less to Milton’s usage of the term “discord” itself. The term “discord” appears only six times in Milton’s English poetry, all contained within Paradise Lost, once implicitly through Milton’s characterization of humanity’s “undiscording voice” in “At a Solemn Musick,” and twice in two of the Latin Poemata of the 1645 Poems: “In quintum Novembris” and “Epitaphium Damonis.” In these poems Milton understands “discord” as polysemous: each of his usages reflects the term’s theological, interpersonal, and musical or auditory meanings. Working within the classical tradition of Vergil and Hesiod, Milton even personifies “Discord” as a figure both abstract and tangible. This essay traces the persistent presence of discord across Milton’s poetry; interrogates his understanding of discord with respect to its polysemous contexts; and emphasizes that, despite relying upon varied usages, Milton insistently associates discord with original sin. This association culminates in Milton identifying Discord as the “first / Daughter of Sin” who makes her entrance with Sin and Death into Eden in Book 10 of Paradise Lost (10.707). By isolating discord within Milton’s poetics, this essay argues for the significance of discord to Milton’s poetic imagination with respect to his representation of original sin and its concomitant effect on the human condition. Through an understanding of his nuanced yet comprehensive definition of discord, we can fully appreciate what it means to Milton for humanity to be discordant with God.

Ágnes Bató

O Father: The Kinship Metaphor and its Implications in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Fathers and sons in Milton’s epic have diverse and volatile relationships. The use of the kinship metaphors, such as father and son in Paradise Lost draws on various mythological, biblical and literary traditions, describing dysfunctional families, family conflicts and rivalries, as well as reinforcing the loving and merciful nature of the father. The two fathers in the epic, God and Satan represent two types of father figures, whose relationship with their sons and daughters is centered around the notion of the offspring being the “image” of the parent. While the status of the Son has been explored, the implications of being a father deserve further scrutiny.

The status of God and Satan as fathers is established by their children, the Son and Sin respectively, and the first reaction of the fathers is quite emotionally charged in both cases. Being the father thus signifies not only a position of power, but it also implies love and mercy. Satan questions not only the omnipotence of God but also his status as a father, predicting that he would „his darling Sons/ Hurl’d headlong” (2.373-4) out of Eden, while he relies on the loyalty and obedience of his children in his conspiracy against the Almighty – only he receives it solely from his daughter.

While the vague oneness of God and the Son prevails throughout the epic, Satan fails challenging both, unable to be the obedient, self-sacrificing son and the loving but just father as well. In addition, the similarity between God and the Son and their shared power stands in opposition of the envy experienced by Satan. This is the very envy that alienates him from the Father, unable to think in terms of kinship, and eventually corrupting the concept of family, resulting in the mythical, abusive parent and children relationships.

The juxtaposition of the two father figures creates parallels and paradoxes, while the denomination is also political, emphasizing the ambiguity of the metaphor. The epic offers an encyclopaedic definition of “father”, in both the divine and the satanic sense, not leaving out of the controversy the prospect of the parenthood of Adam and Eve. In this paper I am going to analyze the interactions between fathers, sons and daughters and the way their discourses contribute to the formulation of the kinship metaphor. I argue that father and son (or daughter) are contingent upon each other, creating a dynamic of sameness and difference that affects power and status.

Lynne Greenberg

“Me his Parent”: Sin, Allegory, and Seventeenth-Century Laws of Guardianship

A rich body of scholarship has mapped Milton’s sources and analogues for the composite and densely allusive figure of Sin in Paradise Lost. The monstrosity of Sin, her body functioning as the “Sign / Portentous” (2. 760-61) and site of gender disorder and incestuous birth, has also led to important historical analyses of the figure’s sources in early modern popular culture and political discourse. Yet, while motherhood became problematized, flexible, and reconceptualized in its discursive and ideological constructions, the laws governing motherhood underwent a consistent and successive hardening of patriarchal regulation throughout the early modern period. This overlooked jural context bears on Sin’s representation, particularly in her experience of being left “Alone,” a single mother of a child born out of wedlock. Sin is mired in a system that mirrors, if not is directly indebted to, this historically specific, charged time in which mothers faced novel punishments for their reproductive acts. A newly codified, tightly woven, and interdependent network of statutes, including the Poor Law, vagrancy acts, Settlement and Removal Act, Bastardy Acts, and Infanticide Act policed single mothers with increasing vehemence during Milton’s lifetime. Sin’s possibilities of agency are also limited in ways consonant with early modern laws of familial relations. In her figuration, Milton records a prescient portrait, remarkably realistic, albeit graphic, of the submerged material and bodily consequences to mothers of laws that regulated familial violence and delimited mothers’ rights of guardianship. In attending to these jural constructs, this paper argues that Sin emerges as an allegory of the increasingly criminalized and inadequately protected mother in seventeenth-century England.

Eun Kyung Min

Futurity and Its Discontents: Abstinence, Anti-Natalism, and Intergenerational Ethics in Paradise Lost

One of the consequences of the fall is that Eve comes to face an acute reproductive as well as ethical dilemma: to have or not to have children. When Adam worries that succeeding generations will only heap curses on his head, she affirms that “miserable it is / To be to others cause of misery, / Our own begott’n” (X. 981-83) and proposes two concrete courses of action: sexual abstinence or, more drastically, double suicide. Eve’s proposals go far beyond Adam’s lament and suggest specific ways of avoiding the fate “of our Loins to bring / Into this cursed World a woeful Race” (X. 983-84). Although Eve’s proposals are quickly shot down by Adam, the questions of what parents owe to their children, and how we should relate to future people arguably remain of vital import. In this paper, I will discuss Milton’s response to these questions in light of recent discussions of anti-natalism and intergenerational justice. I will focus specifically on the idea of future people’s claim to justice. What kinds of obligations do we owe future people? What kinds of claims can futurity make upon us? To what extent do these questions figure in Milton’s theodicy and how well does Milton answer them?

Matthew K. Dolloff

John Milton and Padre Diego de Hojeda: Two Versions of the Passion

Milton was probably never aware of Padre Hojeda’s La Cristiada, a Spanish language epic on the Passion of Christ even though it was published in Sevilla in 1611. Born in that same Spanish city in 1571(?), Hojeda emigrated in 1591(?) to Peru where he would compose his masterpiece over the next decades. Both authors were in opposite ways influenced by Marco Girolamo Vida, who published the Latin epic poem Christiados libri sex (“The Christiad in Six Books”) in 1535. Milton refers to Vida as “Cremona’s Trump” in his short poem “The Passion” and argues that to his own taste, “softer airs” and “softer strings” are “more apt for mournful things” like the Passion than an unwieldy epic. In a rare moment of self-deprecation, Milton explained that his decision to leave the poem “unfinisht” was that he found the subject “above the years he had” at age 22. Hojeda tackled the same subject in 1,962 ottava rima stanzas divided into 12 books. In addition, Hojeda picks up where Vida ends: a call to proselytize “to this earthly globe’s remotest plains.”

In a 1943 essay about the book trade in colonial Lima, historian Irving A. Leonard casually suggests in one sentence that Hojeda’s La Cristiada “has been likened to Milton’s Paradise Lost.” A review of the literature beginning with the second edition in 1833 reveals both the speculative and repetitive claims about Hojeda’s life and work and that everyone promises comparisons to Milton without delivering. Unfortunately, some critics are using a flawed primary source when compared to the original from 1611. The purpose of this presentation is briefly to provide an overview of the epic’s history and reception and to make comparisons to mostly Paradise Lost: the invocations, depictions of chaos and matter, the concept of “darkness visible,” the evils of mining gold, and an antipathy towards the English monarchy. The contrasts are dramatic: Protestant v. Catholic and a poetry-reading audience v. both a Spanish epic-reading audience and a Peruvian indigenous listening audience. Still, both authors are invested in the poetic representations and moral directions of their respective nations. To kickstart this project, I will refer to the Archbishop of Quito, Federico Gonzalez Suarez (1844-1917), who in 1909 wrote “De la Poesía Épica Cristiana” with chapters on both Hojeda and Milton.

Naomi Horiuchi

Paradise Lost Book 3: A Rereading of “My umpire conscience”

God declares the promise of man’s salvation in Paradise Lost Book 3, promising to place “My umpire conscience” (3.195) within man who will then know to be repentant. Merritt Hughes, Alastair Fowler, and Maurice Kelley have interpreted this use of the concept of conscience to be the equivalent of reason. Recently Abraham Stoll asserted that the development of conscience in Paradise Lost is “a uniquely expansive conscience” in Conscience in Early Modern English Literature (2017). He argues that conscience in this framework has “a syncretic quality” (167) representing the use of reason that works on a practical level in Book 3 and with the support of grace as Spirit in Book 12. But, can the Book 3 version of conscience as reason judge between right and wrong, or is the Book 3 idea of the conscience different from that in Book 12 ? Stoll’s position on this point seems unclear.

Historically, the concept of conscience is complex, because it can be used subjectively and objectively. The concept has ethical and religious meanings, and many interpretations. Stoll says that he “has long struggled to determine to what degree Milton is a rationalist…and to what degree he valorizes the inward working of the Spirit” (182) and this leaves us with an ambivalent view of Milton’s theology. This ambivalence seems to be connected with the controversial debate about the doctrine of predestination and the problem concerning whether Milton is an Arminian or a Calvinist.

From Martin Luther (1483-1546) to Paul Tillich (1886-1965), Protestant theologians have not denied God’s grace to inspire a man’s conscience. Luther, whose Reformation motto was sola fide, seems also to add the notion of gaining a “bad conscience” from sin, and he forwarded the concept of conscience of justification through faith. Catholic critics, however, assert that the idea of sola fide places one in a moral vacuum. The problem they have with this idea in Reformation theology is that it leads to a lack of moral judgment.

In this paper I propose that “My umpire conscience” helps to define Luther’s “renewed conscience,” that is, “transmoral conscience,” which Tillich, against William Perkins’ Protestant moral conscience, calls and further forwards as a joyful conscience. Focusing first on Paradise Lost, I examine the descriptions of conscience in Book 3 and 12 to distinguish how conscience is characterized in Milton. I will contrast these descriptions with Perkins’ sixteenth-century theological view and the twentieth-century one which Tillich maintains to understand Luther’s theology.

Claude N. Stulting, Jr.

Resurrection Lost: Guilt, Death, and the Crucifixion in Paradise Lost

It is a commonplace that Paradise Lost employs the language of a variety of atonement theories circulating during the 17th century: recapitulation; ransom; satisfaction; and substitution. To be sure, the terms “substitutionary”/“substitution” are not found in Paradise Lost. Milton uses, though not often, the terms “satisfaction” and “satisfied”; nevertheless, what Milton clearly propounds is the substitutionary theory, or more properly, the penal substitutionary theory, as Christ’s death not only satisfies God’s demand for justice but also substitutes for the punishment due humankind. It is clear that Milton’s position aligns strongly with the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement, which, by Milton’s time in Western Europe, had become the most common understanding of what Christ’s death accomplished. This is a judicial understanding of God’s relationship to humankind. It is what God articulates; and it is what Michael articulates. The frequency of Milton’s diction witnesses to this: “guilt”; “punish”; “punishment”; “justice/justification”; God’s “anger”; God’s “wrath.”

At the same time, this penal substitutionary theory of atonement stands in tension with another impulse manifest even more strongly in Paradise Lost: death as humankind’s inheritance, as humankind’s punishment. Death is, quite clearly, the thematic alpha and omega of the epic. This is made clear from the opening lines, and it is recalled consistently throughout the epic, especially near the end of Book 12. Milton follows the biblical text in this regard. In Genesis 2, death, not guilt, becomes the threat of disobedience, and it does in fact become the penalty imposed upon Adam and Eve.

Likewise, in Paradise Lost, death is the penalty, the punishment, for disobedience; humankind becomes mortal, subject to death. So embedded within the substitutionary atoning paradigm lurks an acknowledgment that the resurrection, that which overcomes death and grants new life, is the telos of salvation, not merely the cleansing of guilt. Both the Son (3:227-265) and the Father (3:285-319) articulate the “new life” that follows upon the resurrection. So, too, does Adam as the epic draws to a close (12:470-476).

Hence, the privileged position of substitutionary atonement that cleanses humankind’s guilt functions as only the subsidiary purpose of Christ’s crucifixion; it is Christ’s resurrection, as muted as it is in the epic, that functions as the focal means by which Adam and Eve may acquire a “paradise within” (12:587), perhaps even fulfilling their vocation as articulated by Raphael in Book 5, when humankind “with angels may participate” (5:493-4).

Warren Chernaik

Service and Servitude in Milton and Marvell

‘Serve’ and its cognates (service, servant) are central, echoing words in the poems and prose works of Milton. ‘Serve’ and related terms occur 98 times in Milton’s poems (the verb 26 times in Paradise Lost alone) and recur even more frequently in his prose. ‘Servile’ and ‘servitude’, two key words in Milton, repeated again and again by Satan, and contested by Abdiel, appear 23 times in Milton’s poems and 63 times in his prose. The words are used less frequently in Marvell’s poems and prose writings, but, I shall argue, ‘service’, ‘serve’, and ‘servitude’ are no less significant in Marvell’s works. For Milton, service is characteristically associated with conscious choice: “But were it the meanest under-service, if God by his secretary conscience enjoyn it, it were sad for me if I should draw back.” “Voluntarie service,” associated with ‘conscience’, is a recurrent theme in Marvell’s prose writings after 1660, as it is in Paradise Lost, and plays a significant role in poems such as Upon Appleton House that Marvell wrote in the 1650s. A key distinction for both writers is that between serving God and serving human masters, or the pursuit of self-interest, and I will argue that in many respects the writings of the two men, friends and close associates, can be seen as complementary and mutually illuminating.

Joshua Held

Milton’s Pauline Universalism: Race, Gender, and Religion in Early Modern England

Milton names Paul well over one hundred times in just his English prose, in addition to many more citations of Pauline writings all through his works. Milton uses Paul quite overtly to support his theories of church government and of marriage and divorce and to create common ground with pagan authors. I argue that Milton also uses Paul in Paradise Lost to emphasize a commonality among genders and races.

Modern theologians and thinkers have considered Paul’s relation to a variety of social movements, including universalism, by which Paul’s version of Christianity embraces people from across different groups. Alain Badiou emphasizes this aspect of Paul in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul himself identifies alternatively as a Jew and a Greek at different points and to differing degrees. He also insists variously that he is a slave of Christ’s, and that he is free from the requirements of the law. Yet Paul also gives instructions to a slave-owner regarding the treatment of a particular slave, and this does not include freedom. Similarly, Paul does not allow women “to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man” (1 Tim. 2:12), appearing to annul universalism as it might apply to gender.

Like Paul, Milton seems confused regarding the issues of gender and race. He infamously writes against marriage in several tracts of the 1640s, though his arguments sometimes benefit female as well as male divorce-seekers. His portrayal of Eve in Paradise Lost has attracted significant critique, while some have argued for a more favorable portrayal of Eve and have uncovered some positive appreciation of Milton by female readers.

Whereas scholars are divided regarding Milton’s approach to gender, including femininity and masculinity, most agree he was clearly a racist. Yet Milton’s designation as a racist remains unclear: although he apparently approves of some kinds of slavery in history, he argues vigorously in his own time for freedom of the press, which is limited not by a person’s race but by an ability to participate intelligently in an exchange of ideas.

I argue that Milton appropriates Paul in Paradise Lost in order to uncover the universal inheritance of all people from the original human parents, Adam and Eve. Paul explains the “one blood” (Acts 17:26) of all human beings, and Milton’s Raphael reflects this thinking. My paper uses Paul and Milton as hubs that represent a still larger network, extending back to antiquity and forward to modernity. These hubs, universal in their scope, support a theory of universal human participation in several areas, from ancestry to exile, and from loss to consolation.

Joshua Scodel

“Race,” “Nation,” Hospitality, and Servitude in Paradise Lost

This paper explores Paradise Lost’s terms and categories for collective identities and relations. While all the epic’s creatures belong to natural “kinds,” Milton restricts the term “race” (often applied in his period to all animals) to creatures conscious of lineage and capable of moral choice: angels and humans. These noble “races” are defined by both “natural” and spiritual kinship to their “Father”- Creator but free to fall into beast-like spiritual states.

Transforming tropes of Ciceronian self-fashioning and Athenian xenophobic autochthony collated in Erasmus’s Adages, Satan in revolt redefines what it means for angels to be the aristocratic “race of Heaven” (Belial’s phrase). Satan’s redefinition shapes his xenophobic, corrupting response to the “upstart” human “race.” Raphael’s and Adam’s shared meal and conversation, by contrast, dramatize friendly interaction between different “races” by transforming classical norms of hospitality toward “strangers” who become “guest-friends.”

Satan’s xenophobic logic, however, infects the fallen world. Milton’s dichotomization of a single “human race” into virtuous and vicious “races” adapts Augustine’s vision in the City of God of a single Adamic “humanum genus” split by the fall into opposed genealogical “genera” bearing respectively the promise of spiritual redemption and the burden of inherited sin. Treating “nations” in Biblical fashion as populous “races,” Milton legitimizes slavery on “racial” and “national” grounds by interpreting Biblical curse as punishment for group degeneracy. Scholars have argued that Michael’s condemnation of Ham’s “vicious race” to servitude provides genealogical justification for the black African slave trade as well as legitimizing the potential subjugation of other early modern “nations” deemed servile. But Michael deploys an Old Testament “curse” that some contemporaneous readers would identify with black Africans as exemplary Biblical analog of, not genealogical justification for, the deserved fate of modern servile “nations.”

Michael’s only clear instance of what he describes as “no wrong,” non-tyrannical enslavement precedes Christianity: the beastlike “numerous servitude” of Abraham, the first righteous slaveholder in an otherwise idolatrous world. Michael repeatedly asserts that “all nations” (a key Scriptural locution) will be “blessed,” which Michael identifies with Christian conversion of “many” from “each nation.” Worldwide converts, blessed with spiritual freedom, escape preexisting national “curse.” Because unlike contemporaneous Protestant views promoting slaves’ conversion by distinguishing spiritual freedom from emancipation, Paradise Lost treats only “inward” moral slaves as justifiably enslaved by others, such converts also merit “outward” liberty.

But Paradise Lost rejects mid-century millenarian visions of the ongoing conversion of “all nations” in favor of a Protestant counter-strand that declared Jesus’s commission to “teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19) fulfilled in the apostolic period, which is followed in Michael’s pessimistic account by the dwindling of true Christians to the “few.” Milton’s 1640s and 1650s references to black Africans make plausible their inclusion among the degenerate servile “nations” embodying Christian universalism’s failure. I will conclude, however, with Michael’s recollection of Edenic interracial harmony in a fleeting instance of interracial hospitality based not on shared faith but on an elusive common humanity.

Elizabeth Hodgson

The Insidious Infidel: Milton’s Wives, Cromwell’s Voters

Milton’s divorce tracts spend a surprisingly long time discussing marriages between Christians and “infidels.” Milton suggests that the scriptural advice on these marriages is “to us now of little use.” So it is worth asking why, to what end(s), Milton’s divorce tracts repeatedly juxtapose the toxic alien with the unloveable wife. Milton partly implies that divorcing a bad wife and shunning a corrupting infidel are in some strategic ways synonymous.

By invoking slavery, captivity, and “dismanning” as terms of a bad marriage, Milton also implicitly genders and intensifies the racializing politics of the tracts. Just as in the Putney debates Cromwell fears that universal male suffrage will allow the foreigner to earn a stake in English culture, so Milton’s divorce tracts subtly imply that unloved wives and ‘infidels’ are similarly potential threats to the male English commonwealth. And the subtleties here in Milton’s subtexts and juxtapositions certainly seem to reflect and speak into the specific politics of British/Islamic relations, trade, and ambitions in the 1640’s.

Islam Issa

Milton and the Principles of Jurisprudence: The Divorce Tracts and Islamic Family Law

Of all John Milton’s views, his justification of divorce might well have been the most controversial to his contemporaries. To argue for divorce was contentious enough; to argue for no-fault divorce was doubly contentious. It was more than three centuries after Milton’s divorce tracts that UK Parliament passed the current Divorce Reform Act (1969) to legalise no-fault divorce on the grounds of an “irretrievable breakdown of the marital relationship”. This study reads, for the first time, Milton’s tracts alongside shariah-derived Islamic family law. It becomes clear that a number of key issues are emphasised in both the Miltonic and Islamic traditions. This paper focuses on just one of these, namely, the similarities between Milton’s overall aim and methodology on one hand, and those that form the principles of Islamic jurisprudence on the other.

Francesca Gardner

Real or Allegoric?: Satanic and Divine Typologies in Paradise Regained

This explores Milton’s specific sense of typology in Paradise Regained as drawing on the ‘real’ branch of Biblical exegesis which once preceded it in the exegetical scheme, separating it from the ‘allegorical’ exegesis with which it was once synonymous. Milton makes Christ is a good typologist, who understands that typology is only truly from God when it is patient, rooted in earthly time in all of its slow and complex progression. Milton’s Satan, on the other hand, is a bad reader of typology. He consistently attempts to ‘Occam’s razor’ history in order to bring types together immediately, so that there is none of typology’s essential recalling and undoing which can only occur in earthly time, and he views it as competitive, with the antitype as the ‘victor’, absorbing and superseding the ‘losing’ type. Satan’s focus on the similarity of type and antitype and the immediacy of typological parallels, facets erroneously assumed to be more far important to typology than difference and the chronological separation of type and antitype, is ultimately a collapsing strategy to draw him closer to Christ, as a shortcut to godliness. I.e.: because Satan and Christ are in some ways similar, they might as well be the same (and then he can work on being better). This reading leads to a new interpretation of the closing pinnacle scene, via the uncovering of a new allusion and typological parallel. By superficially accepting the formal similarities between Christ and Satan, Milton reasserts their fundamental difference via a reference to Numbers, where the divine brazen serpent atop Moses’ pole (Christ) heals the Israelites from the bites of the fiery serpents (Satan) sent amongst them.

Clay Greene

The Natural History of Man in the Prophetic Books of Paradise Lost

Since William G. Madsen’s From Shadowy Types to Truth, students of Milton have possessed a sophisticated awareness of the status of theological typology in the final books of Paradise Lost. Michael’s sacred history is so spare because within his narrative, certain sacred moments swallow up the remaining mass of history and provide its meaning: “This having learnt, thou hast attain’d the sum / Of wisdom.” The present study seeks to supplement this understanding by suggesting that Michael’s synoptic history relies equally on typology of a more secular cast. Moments of “human nature” likewise function as antitypes that structure the rest of this history, usually as negative epitomes. For instance, while the story of Cain and Abel is a type of the sacred history—Abel’s slaying as the sacrifice of Christ—it is also antitype of Milton’s conception of the natural human. The small glances of their life, the details of farming and herding life, provide the meaning of natural humanity at that stage of historical development. The same can be said for many moments within Michael’s history, the development of arts among the offspring of Seth, the progress of militarism in the story of Enoch, or of luxury in the story of Noah: these things are revelations of human nature that, grasped generically, enable the reader to understand the human context in which sacred revelation will occur. There is always a natural or anthropological history latent in Michael’s account of sacred history, and this anthropological account can be brought out through attention to each of these antitypical moments.

Particularly salient for anthropology is the account of the birth of political society in Book 11. In Michael’s account, human political order emerges from a natural condition and flourishes, albeit sinfully. As is well known, in the final books Adam repeatedly and impatiently anticipates the end of history within a theologically incomplete stage. This impatience can be seen as Milton’s insertion, at many stages in the history, of a theory of human nature—such as Aristotle’s account of political society as natural or Hobbes’s narrative of a protective confederation—that appears temptingly sufficient without recourse to sacred typology. Only the apocalypse can settle the issue of the true origin of political order, and for this reason, Milton’s prophetic history contains no mention of the Reformation, an event that might be understood as a political restoration of good order that might further tempt the reader to believe in the sufficiency of a natural account of history. Faith in the insufficiency of human nature must trust in the evidence of things unseen, and the struggle for faith can be seen in the friction between the secular and sacred antitypes of history. Despite Milton’s efforts, the human element remains irreducible in a narrative that seeks to transform human into sacred history.

Jeffrey Alan Miller

Milton’s Types and a Gravitational Theory of Keywords

This paper emerges out of over a decade of study devoted to the controversial place of biblical typology in the works of Milton and his early modern contemporaries. Offering the first truly comprehensive assessment in the history of Milton studies of every instance in Milton’s works in which he expressly identifies someone or something as having been a “type” or prefigurative “figure” or “shadow”, the paper considers how Milton’s approach to typology relates to that of other writers and thinkers of his era, taking into account works across a range of languages, national and confessional identities, and modern disciplinary divides. In doing so, the paper rethinks along a number of lines what has grown to be the traditional understanding of typology both in Milton’s works and in the early modern period more broadly. The paper also then explores how Milton’s careful yet simultaneously volatile handling of the specific term “type” in English or “typus” in Latin throughout his career can point the way to a more dynamic conception of so-called keywords during the period, one attuned less to the sheer frequency of a given term’s use and more to its gravitational pull on a writer or within a work in the very course of its being written.

Sylvester Cruz

Milton and Vernacular Theology: The Creation of Eve in Paradise Lost and Order and Disorder

This talk offers a framework for consideration of the curious afterlife of mystical readings of the Song of Solomon in the religious writings of seventeenth-century England, with special focus on the genre of the biblical epic as apprehended by John Milton and Lucy Hutchinson. These erotic lyrics from the Hebrew Bible were interpreted as an allegory of the mystical union of Christ and the Church by theologians from Origen of Alexandria and Bernard of Clairvaux to Martin Luther. The vernacular theology of the Song of Solomon was so ubiquitous in the biblical reading culture of the seventeenth century that John Milton relies upon its metaphysical imagery to inform his case for separation in the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, despite his corpus-wide hostility towards allegorical interpretation. Building on Mindele Anne Treip’s valuable and, perhaps, undervalued study of the multiple varieties of biblical allegory mimetically represented in Paradise Lost, as well as the medievalist Nicholas Watson’s formulation of medieval “vernacular theology”, I show how the experiential exegesis of allegorical interpretation in mid-century Protestant readings of the Song of Solomon informs John Milton and Lucy Hutchinson’s respective depictions of Eve in Paradise Lost and Order and Disorder. While Milton’s account of the creation of Eve associates her assumption of a subordinate gender role with his self-interested reading of the Song of Solomon in the first divorce tract, Lucy Hutchinson’s portrayal of Eve and Adam strongly suggests the poet’s refusal of the intertwined sexual and hermeneutic politics of Paradise Lost. This paper explores the possibility that Hutchinson’s synthesis of direct quotations from the Song of Solomon and the creation account in Genesis with humanist topoi such as the classical epic hero’s descent to the underworld reveals a careful, and critical, imitation of Milton’s signature style in the biblical epic. Additionally, the two poets’ respective postures towards the representation of marriage in the state of innocence signal major shifts in English religious attitudes towards typological and allegorical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible following the Restoration. The undeniable relevance of mystical interpretation of the Song of Solomon to seventeenth-century religious discourse suggests modes and methods by which marginalized members of English religious culture fomented popular subversion of theological orthodoxy.

Joan Curbet

Versions of Female Prophecy in John Milton’s 1671 Poems

Female prophecy was far from being a rare phenomenon in the context of the English Revolution, or in its immediate aftermath. Women working and writing in the cultural environment of the Quakers, the Fifth Monarchists or the Ranters made important contributions to devotional and political literature, thereby establishing new models of female authority and cultural intervention. While John Milton´s relationship to the women writers of the period has been studied abundantly in the last twenty years, his treatment of the specific rhetoric of prophecy as voiced by women still requires further examination.

The present paper attempts to examine the act of prophecy as voiced by women in Milton´s later poems (Paradise Regain´d and Samson Agonistes, from 1671). I shall argue that female prophecy is an important preoccupation of Milton in his later years, and that he attempts to locate it carefully in the intersection of the public and private spaces. Female prophecy may appear as divinely inspired, but it may also appear as a purely political act, divested of sacred transcendence, and therefore turning into a parody of truly inspired speech. In his treatment of this subject, Milton offers strong and forceful re-readings of essential figures in Scripture (Mary, the prophetess Anna, Dalila), and develops elaborate and layered re-adaptations of their acts and words. The fact that these figures appear as part of the same volume (the 1671 quarto containing Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regain´d) also establishes a significant network of similarities and parallels between these various voices. I shall try to prove that, while not openly endorsing female intervention in public and religious affairs, Milton is fascinated by the rhetoric and potential influence of women prophets, and that he consciously seeks to integrate their role in the larger narratives of history.

Jennifer Topale

Prophetic Women and Milton’s Narrator in Paradise Lost

During the height of the English Civil War, Charles I’s eventual imprisonment and death, and the subsequent Interregnum under Thomas Cromwell, Milton existed within the center of power, where he was able to write and voice his opinions against both the monarchy and Church of England. The abolishment of the Court of the Star Chamber in 1641 allowed not only men like Milton to publish without fear of reprisal, but also opened the door for female sectarians to publish political pamphlets critical of the government and Church of England. With the restoration of the monarchy and the return of Charles II, Republican supporters like Milton experienced a removal from that center of power into the periphery of society, with many losing their lives as punishment. Luckily, Milton did not lose his life, but he did experience an exile from the society he had once belonged to, and he needed to renegotiate his standing in society by redefining his identity from that of political activist to prophet. According to Anna Beer in Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer, and Patriot, some of Milton’s critics believed he had been exiled to a world of darkness as punishment for his political activism; therefore, he needed to inhabit a prophetic identity that would restore him, at least in the literary world, into a position of prestige and empowerment, and he did so by emulating prophetic women writers.

Prophetic women during the Interregnum were able to engage in political and religious discourse that criticized Cromwell, the Commonwealth, and the Church of England because they labeled themselves not as political activists, but as prophets merely obeying the voice of God. During this period, it was easy to argue with opposing political viewpoints, but much more difficult to argue with the divine voice of God. This paper will investigate how Milton’s prophetic voice in Paradise Lost compares to, and was possibly influenced by, prophetic seventeenth-century women, specifically Lady Eleanor Davies and Anna Trapnel. Though Davies was ultimately unsuccessful in protecting herself from the ramifications of her political writings, Trapnel was able to use prophecy to empower and protect herself from long-term political punishment because she erased her individual identity, replacing it with the Spirit of God. Along with investigating the similarities in the prophetic voices of Davies, Trapnel, and Milton, I will propose that Milton’s entire poem is one voice, narrated through diegesis, instead of mimesis. Where mimesis consists of different character voices, including a chorus-like narrator, acting out the story, Milton’s diegesis uses one voice that acts as a third person omniscient narrator who retells what the other characters say and do, turning the speaker of the poem, and Milton himself, into a shared prophetic voice divinely linked with God, and not an imitation of God.

Sean Benson

Terrorism, Stanley Fish, and Divine Command Ethics

Twenty years ago Stanley Fish created a furor when he claimed the final act of Milton’s Samson is an expression, however provisional, of his reading of the divine will, and insofar as it represents his desire to conform to that will, it is a virtuous action. “No other standard for evaluating it exists. . . . Samson’s act is praiseworthy because he intends it to be answerable to the divine will. . . .”

John Carey thought Fish thereby provided “a license for any fanatic to commit atrocity”: “Like [the 9/11 terrorists, Samson] destroys many innocent victims, whose lives, hope and loves are all quite unknown to him personally . . . he believes that his massacre is an expression of God’s will.” Fish responded to Carey by doubling down on his argument, reasserting the existence of “no independent and visible measure by which [Samson’s actions] could be assessed.” He further described Milton as an antinomian for whom any act possesses “a necessary and sufficient justification if the act issues from a desire to do God’s will.” Toward that end, Fish approvingly cited John Huston’s 1966 filmic retelling of Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac as a lesson in the limitlessness of divine authority:

ISAAC: (Quietly) Is there nothing he may not ask of thee?
ABRAHAM: Nothing.

Were Milton to share Huston’s interpretation would be astonishing. First, Fish seems unaware that the lone standard he believes to be operative in the poem is that of divine command theory, the view that an act “has its moral status as obligatory or non-obligatory in virtue of God’s having commanded . . . or God’s not having commanded [it].” Two millennia ago, Plato’s Euthyphro raised logical and moral difficulties to the version of divine command ethics Fish adopts in relation to Samson’s mass slaughter. Second, Fish’s claim that “no other standard exists in the play” also overlooks the theology that informs it. The traditional understanding of God’s nature, to which Samson explicitly refers, constitutes at once a standard against which Samson’s actions can be judged, and offers a compelling response to the Euthyphro dilemma.

Hsing Hao Chao

The Medical Paradigm in Samson Agonistes: Galenic or Paracelsian?

Historians have noted that the medical paradigm experienced a major shift from traditional Galenic humoralism to Paracelsianism in the seventeenth century, and past Milton scholars have paid special attention to Milton’s break with traditional Galenism. Paracelsian medicine has been considered revolutionary in two respects. First, instead of viewing disease as the imbalance of humors, Paracelsus believes that disease is an entity of its own penetrating the human body from outside. Second, Paracelsus, in favor of the homeopathic treatment (like cures like), rejects the principle of “Contraria Contrariis Curentur” (opposite cures opposite). It has been argued that Samson Agonistes is characterized with Paracelsus’s medical theories. This paper purports to re-evaluate the association between Paracelsus and Samson Agonistes with reference to Paracelsus’s and Galen’s writings. While generally following the principle of similarity in his treatment of diseases, Paracelsus specifically indicates that melancholy should be treated by the “contrary.” Whereas Milton suggests that “melancholic [black] hue and quality are used against melancholy,” Paracelsus advises against using “dull, dark coral” on a melancholic patient, for “melancholy is driven away by the bright red coral, and it is increased by the dark red coral.” Furthermore, the attribution of the concept of the exogenesis of disease to Paracelsus exclusively is also questionable. Although insisting on disease as internal imbalance, Galen never denies the importance of external forces on the cause of disease. Thus, the dichotomy between Galenism and Paracelsianism as allopathy versus homeopathy or endogeneity of disease versus exogenesis of disease is oversimplified and misleading. This paper argues that different medical models are not antithetical but complementary for Milton.

Dana Omirova

Milton’s Dalilah and the Failure of Interracial Marriage

Milton’s choice to modify the biblical account in Samson Agonistes to make Dalilah Samson’s lawful wife is a subject of ongoing debate. In order to move beyond the dismissive explanation that Milton legalizes the union simply to make the pair more palatable to his audience, I suggest we must first reassess and recon with Dalilah’s status as a racial and religious Other. Samson and Dalilah’s marriage is an interracial one which, despite being dressed in biblical Israelite and Philistine terms, has clear modern-day repercussions. In this paper, I discuss the ways in which Dalilah’s vilification is inextricably tied not to her actions, but her ethnogeographic identity, both as a woman outside of Samson’s “fair” and “noble” tribe (216-18) and a transitory “stately ship of Tarsus” (714-15). I argue that Milton, the famous advocate of companionate marriage, denounces interracial union out of fears of conversion and miscegenation. He consequently turns the legal contract binding the biblical couple into a casus belli and a justification for violence against a religious enemy. Given that Milton criticism is still a latecomer to significant critical race studies, I aim to demonstrate how this critical lens can further discourse beyond marriage, such as Samson’s status as a terrorist initially proposed by John Carey.

Alex Garganigo

The Lucianic Parliament in Hell

Paradise Lost is the epic of councils: in Hell, Heaven, Chaos, and Eden. Councils in Homeric and later epics provide obvious precedents, but an underappreciated source is the otherworldly council in the satires of Lucian of Samosata. In satires such as The Parliament of the Gods, Zeus Rants, Kataplous, Ikaromenippos, Nekyomanteia, and the True Histories, Lucian sets councils off-world, in places below and above the Earth, in order to launch scathing criticism against it. Lucian’s councils do a number of things relevant to Milton’s Council in Hell: exclude people from their deliberations; prevent further discussion and voting at crucial moments; and vote to exterminate whole groups of humans. But while Lucian’s councils sometimes make bad decisions or are compromised by corrupt parliamentary moves, they never undermine conciliarism or republican self-government itself. However flawed, they mirror the vestigial democracy in Greek cities under the Pax Romana and offer a fiery model for Milton’s own republican writing, with its flashes of humor and satire.

Brandon Taylor

Milton, Incorporated: The New Model Army and the Revolutionary Energy of Early Modern Corporations

In his antiprelatical tract, An Apology for Smectymnuus (1642), Milton states, “I conceav’d my selfe to be now not as mine own person, but as a member incorporate into that truth whereof I was perswaded” (YP 1.871). Paul Stevens notes how, “as [Milton] announces the assimilation of individual identity into community, it becomes clear just how much community is a part of his own imaginary world” and that he was compelled to respond “to the Modest Confuter not for personal reasons” but due in part to his sense of community. My paper will explore how Milton’s sense of his incorporate self is useful not only for understanding his expressive “vehemence,” as Stevens argues, but for gauging his early, keen, and enduring interest in the potential power of incorporation. In the early seventeenth century, joint-stock corporations were an emergent force that wielded significant political, economic, and polemical power, as demonstrated by the founding and propagation of the English East India Company (1600), the Virginia Company (1606), and the Guinea Company (1618). As Henry Turner has valuably shown, a corporation’s procedures manifest what he calls a corporate personality, which is evident in the New Model Army’s early years before becoming a part of Cromwell’s Protectorate. I aim to chart the personality of the revolutionary New Model Army and explore how its initial procedures and composition helped scaffold and express the egalitarian revolutionary energies of the mid-1640s. Drawing upon the polemic and theological discourse surrounding the New Model Army and building towards a rereading of Milton’s Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1650) in this context, I will highlight the ways in which incorporation offered Milton, and his contemporaries, such as the army chaplains John Saltmarsh and William Dell, a radical new way to reimagine how both individuals and incorporate communities conceive themselves in relation to the power of the English state.

James Dunnigan

Milton’s Ovidian Syntheses: Paradise Lost VII and Metamorphoses I

From Charles Martindale (“Paradise Metamorphosed: Ovid in Milton,” 1985) to Maggie Kilgour (Milton and the Metamorphosis of Ovid, 2012), many scholars have documented the influence of Ovid’s Metamorphoses on Paradise Lost. Like Ovid’s epic, Milton’s is an extended meditation on art, creativity and the act of creation itself, Paradise Lost being a poem almost entirely populated with artist figures, themselves created in the image of a uniquely artistic God. In this, Milton emulates Ovid’s own, artful, art-driven cosmos, home to such creators as Arachne, Daedalus, Pygmalion, Orpheus: all of which, like Adam and Eve, experience a Fall of a kind, whether at the hands of the Gods or their own. Not restricted to theme, plot or character-building, Ovid’s influence on Milton extends to Milton’s borrowing of what Maggie Kilgour calls a system of conflicting “antitheses,” where the binary, conflictual relations between creator and creation (Pygmalion and Galatea), lover and beloved (Narcissus and Echo), self and reflection (Narcissus and Narcissus), blur one another in ironic conflict (70). This paper will document Milton’s borrowing and simultaneous transformation of this system in an episode whose Ovidian sources remain relatively underexamined: the retelling of Biblical Genesis in Paradise Lost VII.

By comparing this episode to the Metamorphoses’ own account of creation, I will show the extent to which Milton’s retelling of the Bible is also, crucially, a retelling of Ovidian Genesis. In doing this, Milton transforms Ovid’s poetics of self-ironizing binaries into a poetics of creative synthesis, creating an epic system in which binaries exist not in conflict with one another, but rather to complete one another, covalently and cooperatively working toward a common teleological aim unknown to the universe of Ovidian epic: Salvation, that final resolution of the created world’s antinomies. My analysis will adopt what Tobias Gregory calls a “recuperative” view of Milton’s classical reception. Rather than plainly to upstage or “beat” his Classical models, I argue that Milton meant to weave himself into the textual or poetic continuum of these renovating the achievement of each for his era (Gregory, Milton and His Epic Precursors 450). Milton’s recuperative reception, I hold, is also largely inspired by that of Ovid’s poem, which similarly recuperates, renovates, transforms several earlier classical models. If Ovid proposes, with divine aid, to weave the totality of his era’s cultural knowledge into a “seamless song” (perpetuum (…) carmen, Met. I.4), sourcing material in Greek myth, Roman folklore, presocratic philosophy and the poetry of his Augustan contemporaries, Milton aims to “justify the ways of God to men” (PL I.26) in a poem that similarly weaves together elements derived from Biblical, Greco-Roman and Renaissance canons. By analysing his unique fusion of Ovidian Genesis with Biblical Genesis and Early Modern science, and by showing how that fusion mirrors Ovid’s own synthesis of Lucretian, Platonic and Hesiodean Creation, I wish to locate Milton’s Ovid-inspired ideal of poetic synthesis at the heart of his poetic thought and practice of the epic.

Chika Kaneko

Cupid the Pseudo Protagonist in Elegia septima: Deconstructing Ovid’s Metamorphoses

John Milton’s Elegia septima [the seventh elegy], which consists of 102 Latin lines, is a “trans-Ovidian” poem. This paper examines Elegia septima from the perspective of Cupid’s transformation into a tempter, comparing it to the anecdote of “Daphne the laureate” from the first volume of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. By highlighting characteristics of Milton’s description of Cupid, this study aims to clarify how Milton overcomes Ovid’s narrative framework. While Ovid focuses on the courtship between the god of poetry Apollo and the nymph Daphne, Milton emphasizes Cupid’s revenge story. His Cupid plays a prominent role in the elegy, acting as a main character and employing cunning strategies to ensnare his target. This characterization makes Cupid a tempter who is absorbed into Satan in Paradise Lost. Milton as a Latin lyricist seems to ignore the courtship scene for Daphne while Ovid devotes nearly 80 % of the entire episode (620 words) to that scene. Although it is renowned for its association with the courtship scene for Eve in Paradise Lost, Milton dedicates only two lines in the elegy to express love and passion. Instead, he allocates almost 60% of the elegy (399 words) to the scene depicting how Cupid completes his reprisal. Considering that Ovid devotes only 77 words to this scene, this results in a difference of over five-fold in volume. Milton transforms Cupid into a talkative and active character one. Despite this drastic shift, the poet (rather than Cupid) remains the actual protagonist of Elegia septima. This will be clarified with an emphasis on the overall structure and the use of first-person pronouns. When we interpret Cupid in Elegia septima as a false protagonist, Satan can no longer be a hero.

Angelica Duran

Milton’s Global Presence: Milton’s Paradise Lost on the Modern Mexican Public Stage

This presentation shines a light on Milton’s early modern English Protestant epic adapted for a modern Hispanophone ecumenical-Christian staged civic drama: El Paraíso perdido: Drama en 4 Actos arreglado por Ambrosio Nieto, sobre la inspiración del inmortal Milton [Paradise Lost: Drama in 4 Acts Arranged by Ambrosio Nieto, Upon the Inspiration of the Immortal Milton] (c. 1920–40). The drama is a pastorela, a genre of short civic drama that celebrates the Nativity, typically staged in December, with its roots in Ibero-Spain, and still popular there and throughout the Hispanophone world. El Paraíso perdido was certainly published and most likely staged in the theatrical hub of Puebla, Mexico. While Milton was labelled a “Hӕretic” in the 1707 edition of the Spanish Catholic Inquisition’s series of lists of proscribed authors and texts, the Index librorum prohibitorum, as Spanish Catholicism developed into the modern period and in the Americas, the author-function Milton and his epic were increasingly embraced as the standard bearer of Christianity in the face of secularism, to which Nieto’s pastorela attests.

Nieto adapts Milton’s Puritan epic into the Mexican tradition of Hispano-Catholic civic dramas. For example, Nieto’s first two Acts are set in Hell and dramatize the preparations for the temptation of humankind by Satan, a stand-in for the Deadly Sin of Pride, in dialogue with Ira (Anger) and Invidia (Envy), then his gloating over his success in Eden with the remaining Deadly Sins—none of which appear in Milton’s original—Avaricia (Greed), Lujuria (Lust), Gula (Gluttony), and Pereza (Sloth). Yet, Miltonic presence is clear from the Hispanophone translations of direct quotations from Paradise Lost in the characters’ dialogue throughout. Further, the last two Acts, set in the Garden of Eden, feature three characters that are in Milton’s final Books 10–12, Adam, Eve, and the archangel Michael, who delivers a truncated version of Milton’s future history, one that ends not with the couple’s “wandering steps and slow” as they depart Eden but rather with final words that double as internal stage directions for the standard ending of pastorelas: “Rejoice, and see there the Savior of the world. ( Uncover the nativity.) The true Messiah that opens the doors of the ‘PARADISE LOST’.” This presentation concludes with a reflection on how this works draws out the dramatic elements and the wily theology of Milton’s epic.

Andrew Kroninger

Methodology in Compiling Russian Translations of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained

In this presentation, I discuss the strategies and resources I employed in gathering a bibliography with detailed footnotes that accounts for Russian translations of Paradise Lost (Потерянный рай) and Paradise Regained (Возвращённый рай), to be included in the upcoming co-edited volume Milton Across Borders and Media (Oxford UP, forthcoming 2023). The annotated bibliography accompanies the chapter “Miltonic Motifs in Russian Poetry and Art” by Amina Gabrielova and is comprised of twenty Russian translations and one into Ukrainian. I will comment on the experience, methodology, and obstacles encountered in this process, which should prove useful to those undertaking similar projects, especially fellow scholars dealing with translations involving one’s non-native language and obsolete orthographic systems.

The latter point is of central importance to the collection of Milton translations into Russian, as the majority of the ones produced pre-date the 1918 orthographic reform that removed several letters from the Russian alphabet. In the interest of maintaining fidelity to these earlier Milton translations, it is necessary to modify one’s search parameters accordingly and to replicate them appropriately using keyboard layouts that are not conducive to such an archaic style. Moreover, each entry brings with it the task of transliterating author and publisher names in a manner consistent with global scholarship as well as paying careful attention to existing citations that are not completely faithful to source material. The relative scarcity of information available about Russian translations of Milton’s long and brief epics also presents a dilemma: many of them are either fragmentary or were aborted and never published; yet others exist only as entries in literary encyclopedias. One of the most valuable pieces of insight gained from sifting through all of this information has been the discovery of unlikely resources, especially one type that comes across as somewhat non-academic on its surface. Whereas libraries’ online databases and similar outlets have been invaluable, mention must be made of online auction pages devoted to vintage books. These have provided some of the most high-resolution and detailed scans of title pages, publisher information, and opening pages available for these translations. Such scans allow for more detailed footnotes that can account for illustrators, stylistic decisions (for example, whether the translation is rendered in prose or verse), and all manner of other information that can enrich the bibliography being created.

Finally, an invaluable resource used in the development of this bibliography is collaboration that takes advantage of global communication systems, in this case the assistance of Vladislav Zabaluev in Russia, who the co-editors introduced me to and who stepped in as the deadline for the manuscript approached to verify my work and suggest resources that I was lacking to which he had access.

Olin Bjork

Milton, the Arundel Marbles, and “Of Statues & Antiquities”

In the Columbia Manuscript, a brief essay titled “Of Statues & Antiquities” discusses how to excavate and smuggle classical artifacts out of seventeenth-century Greece, then in the hands of the Ottoman Empire. The editors of the Columbia edition classify the essay as “perhaps by John Milton.” Whatever role Milton may have played in formulating the essay or committing it to paper, the information in it clearly comes from another source. Roland Mushat Frye speculated that this source was Henry Wotton (1568-1639), a well-traveled diplomat and patron of the arts who shared his expertise on Italy and France with Milton prior to the latter’s continental tour (1638-1639). This theory is tempting to embrace because Milton claims in his Second Defense that he had planned to extend his tour to Greece and Sicily if circumstances in his homeland had not compelled him to return. But most of the materials in the Columbia Manuscript are official letters from Milton’s tenure as Latin Secretary to the Commonwealth and Protectorate governments, a tenure that began in 1649, ten years after Wotton’s death and the end of Milton’s tour. Furthermore, there is little evidence that Wotton was involved in the enterprise that the essay describes. A more likely hypothesis is that Milton’s source was or had been connected to the Earl of Arundel, Thomas Howard (1585-1646), who had agents scouring Greece and nearby regions for artifacts to add to the Arundel Marbles, the most comprehensive collection of Ancient Greek statues and inscriptions in Stuart England. This trade may have remained active in some form during Milton’s government years, and state officials may have taken an interest in it. This paper will present evidence for attributing the essay to a particular Arundelian agent and examine the evidence linking Milton to Arundel’s circle. Proceeding from the premise that Milton supported the exportation of antiquities out of Greece, it will draw a parallel between the westward traffic of classical relics and Milton’s poetic project of importing pagan ideas into a Christian context.

Ann A. Huse

Plague Years and Patronage: Milton at Horton

The cottage at Chalfont St. Giles where the poet and pamphleteer lived from 1665-1667 bills itself as the only remaining Milton home. Although a plaque on the gate post to Berkyn Manor in Horton notes that Milton lived there from 1632-1638, the estate John Milton senior rented after he retired from his position as scrivener was thought to have been pulled down and re-built in the late nineteenth century. A closer look at the property, however, reveals that the Elizabethan manor remains on the site, in front of and attached to the Victorian structure; this estate now comprises a new and an old house, a familiar configuration among historic British homes. This talk explores the ways that scrutiny of the surviving front half of Berkyn Manor enriches our understanding of Milton’s Horton years. Once viewed as “a blank in the canvas” and then as a suburban pastoral, this period of self-education, when Milton read widely for his Cambridge MA, has been more convincingly described by Edward Jones as fraught with worries such as “the threat of the plague, John Milton senior’s legal troubles, and the declining health of both parents” (40) After considering the place as site of both distraction and inspiration, this paper will turn to questions of patronage and assess the relevance as well as the accuracy of the local tradition that John Egerton, the 3rd Earl of Bridgewater, was the Miltons’ landlord at Horton.

Edward Jones

Lifting the Veil on Milton’s Period of Seclusion in 1660

Arguably the most sensational event in Milton’s life remains one marked by wide-ranging speculation and little hard evidence capable of accounting for it. While many contemporaries assumed Milton would be executed by the Restoration government not only for his anti-monarchal writings and select comments about Charles I, but also for his eleven years of government service for the Commonwealth and Protectorate throughout the Interregnum, the blind Milton successfully eludes the authorities looking for him until the Act of Oblivion officially leaves him off the list of those who will receive the death penalty. In retrospect, such an accomplishment appears surprising and unlikely.

Certainly, commentators have offered theories about the particulars: where and when he went into seclusion (in the parish of St Bartholomew the Great sometime in May 1660); who came to his aid publicly in government circles (William Davenant, the Earl of Anglesey, and Andrew Marvell being the most often cited, with Marvell also protesting Milton’s fines when he does serve time in prison later in the year). But at the local level inside the parish, it was imperative that those keeping Milton safe made decisions that increased their chances for successfully hiding a blind man. Such decisions required a knowledge of the local neighborhood, its geographical layout, and a thorough understanding of the very space Milton would occupy.

All of these matters are considered in claims made in this paper that rely in part upon information found in extant parish documents for the time period 1658 through 1661 as well as tax documents that establish who lived next to whom (the ordering of names on such documents reflects the placement of residencies next to one another). Such documents also allow a close look into the very specific area of the parish (The Close area) where Milton was hidden and why discovery was less likely. With individuals identified, the paper concludes by considering the political and /or personal affiliations these parishioners had with Milton that account for why they would risk their own lives to save his.

Lianne Habinek

Holding the Mirror Up to Envy: Cognitive Theory and Paradise Lost

A recent collection on the cognitive construct of envy and its theoretical workings (Envy: Theory and Research, edited by Richard Smith, OUP 2008) opens by recalling, very briefly, Raphael’s admonitory words to Adam and Eve in Book V of Paradise Lost:

Satan, so call him now, his former name
Is heard no more in heaven; he […] yet fraught
With envy against the Son of God […] could not bear
Through pride that sight, and thought himself impaired.
Deep malice thence conceiving and disdain, […] he resolved
With all his Legions to dislodge, and leave
Unworshipped, unobeyed the throne supreme. (V.658-70)

The authors note Milton’s use of the terms envy, impaired, and deep malice, and conclude, “So evil is thrust on the world.” Their conclusions strike me as rather a missed opportunity, given the richness and complexity of Milton’s depiction of Satan throughout the poem, as well as this local explanation for the archangel’s ultimate fall from grace. Envy is, through Raphael’s words, given weight: it is something Satan must bear, with which he is fraught, and, indeed, which leads to an intellectual pregnancy, deep malice conceived. Contemporary envy theory suggests that that emotion is in fact a formative one much in the same way as Milton utilizes the term – envy underpins both consciously and unconsciously our sense of self-worth and power. Studies of the mirror neuron system theorize that this system could be responsible for helping us process and understand the behaviors and emotions of others by preemptively modeling those behaviors and actions in our own minds. (Indeed, St. Augustine’s famous observation about babies experiencing envy when they see other babies nursing would demonstrate that modern theory has ancient pretext.) This paper will consider Paradise Lost in terms of metaphorology and grounded cognition, and particularly the application of the concerns of envy theory, all of which uncover new ways into this monumental text. I track Milton’s use of envy and related terms throughout the poem, investigating both seventeenth-century understandings of the emotion as well as their modern counterparts. This paper will thus expand upon how modern theories of grounded or extended cognition intersect with 17th- and 18th-century literary concerns, focusing specifically on the connection between sensory knowledge and metaphor in Paradise Lost.

Ki-Won Hong

Where Did Adam’s Obligation to Obey God Come from? Epistemological Approach to the Problem of Free Will and Reason in Milton

The main subject of Paradise Lost is Man’s disobedience. By the way, this problem presupposes Man’s obligation to obey God and raises another question of where this obligation is based on. In his Areopagitica (1644), Milton seems to give some hints on this question, when he writes: “many there be that complain of divine Providence for suffering Adam to transgresse: foolish tongues! when God gave him Reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for Reason is but choosing” (ed. 1819, pp.87-88). At first sight, Milton may look like on the side of rationalist stance. However, in contrast with Grotius’ Adamus exul (1601), where the first man was resolved to obey God on the basis of his perception of natural laws as created by God, Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost (1667, 1674) do not seem to really understand why they should obey God. They know they should just because the command was given by their creator. It is not until Raphael admonishes them of their obedience that they truly make sense of human obligation toward God. My paper aims to tackle an epistemological approach to the problem of free will and obedience in Milton. It will thus revisit the criticism of William Walker (2007) on Stanley Fish (1967).

Ayelet Langer

Identity over Time in Paradise Lost

This essay proposes that in Paradise Lost Milton represents the conscious self as constructed over time, thereby anticipating the early eighteenth- century formulation of identity as a problem of diachronic identity. Milton represents this process of self-constitution by situating the mind’s act of unifying itself in the present moment, which he models on Aristotle’s definition of the now as both a connection and a boundary of time. Aristotle’s bivalency of the now serves in Paradise Lost to distinguish between the capacity of prelapsarian and postlapsarian individuals to constitute their self by organising their experiences in time. As a connection of time, the Aristotelian now grounds Milton’s representation of the way in which the prelapsarian individual constitutes his or her own self. As a boundary of time, it marks the failure of the postlapsarian mind to achieve such constitution, which leads to a disintegration of the self. Thus, Aristotle’s distinction between the two contrasting aspects of the now becomes, in Milton’s representation of the self, the prism through which Milton forms a clear distinction between two fundamental structures of identity, fallen and unfallen.

Sarah Baber

“Lycidas” as Joycean Ghost Story: Milton and Ulysses

266 years after the drowning of Edward King, the specter of John Milton’s “Lycidas” embarked on its own voyage across the Irish Sea, arriving in Dublin to reach disillusioned schoolteacher and aspiring writer James Joyce. Indeed, Joyce would soon impart his classroom and musings on “Lycidas” to his literary successor, Ulysses’ Stephen Dedalus. When asked by his students for the telling of a ghost story, Stephen responds by instructing them to continue their recitation of Milton’s elegy. Intermixing the students’ “jerks of verse” with Stephen’s wandering thoughts, Joyce provides an excerpt of “Lycidas” that curiously omits two lines: ‘So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed, / And yet anon repairs his drooping head’. Reading these lines alongside Joyce’s use of Milton’s water motif and Stephen’s ruminations on Aristotle’s De Anima, this paper proposes that Joyces’ reading of “Lycidas” shapes the narrative arc of Ulysses by ultimately retrieving the two omitted lines of Milton in the novel’s penultimate episode. By examining how Ulysses uses Milton to inform its narrative mode and sense of timekeeping, this paper demonstrates how considering “Lycidas” as a Joycean ghost story generates fresh insights about how Milton and Joyce approach loss and remembrance.

Hyunyoung Cho

Milton and Lawrence: Milton in D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow

D. H. Lawrence is not an author commonly discussed in relation to John Milton. This is not surprising. In the public’s mind, Lawrence’s name evokes books of obscenity. The Rainbow was banned soon after its publication in 1915 because of the controversial handling of sexuality. Lawrence’s last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lovers, gained notoriety because of the famous obscenity trial of 1960 in Britain. Lawrence’s public image as a writer seems at the opposite end of the respectable image of John Milton as the Christian poet. This tendency to place Milton and Lawrence in distinct literary camps continues among literary critics, as embodied most famously by F. R. Leavis. In his reassessment of English poetic tradition (Revaluation, 1936), Leavis condemns Milton’s “grand style” as something that lacks real substance. Meanwhile, Leavis upholds Lawrence as a major English novelist, as a twentieth-century successor of the “Great Tradition” of English novelists and reaffirms E. M. Forster’s evaluation of Lawrence as “the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation.” ( D. H. Lawrence: Novelist, p. 11). It looks as if an appreciation of one author translates into a rejection of the other.

One exception to this absence of Lawrence in the discussions of Milton, or vice versa, is Joseph Summers’s brief mention of Lawrence in The Muse’s Method: An Introduction to Paradise Lost (1962). In his discussion of the role of sex in Paradise Lost, Summers claims that “anyone who reads Paradise Lost carefully today is almost inevitably reminded of William Blake and D. H. Lawrence.” According to Summers, “Lawrence was sexually a puritan in something of the sense that Milton was: he attacked the false and the fashionable, not because he believed sex low, but because he believed it central and noble and capable of a kind of perfection” (88).

My study intends to build on Summer’s comment and investigate the ways in which Lawrence engages with Milton. I will focus on The Rainbow, examining how Lawrence re-works Milton’s interest in the “two great Sexes [which] animate the world” (PL 8.151) in this novel. Interestingly, Lawrence’s letters from the years of writing The Rainbow contain multiple references to John Milton and Paradise Lost, unlike those from other periods when he mentioned Milton rarely. I intend to make a claim that Paradise Lost was in Lawrence’ mind when he was writing The Rainbow and this preoccupation is noticeable in this novel about the three generations of Brangwen men and women. Such exercise of reading Lawrence, alongside Milton, I hope, is mutually illuminating for both authors.

Aidan Wakely-Mulroney

Milton Pares His Fingernails: James Joyce and the Conclusion of Lycidas

John Milton’s “Lycidas” has divided critics for centuries: while some call the poem the finest elegy in the English language, others deplore its uneven tone, overabundance of allusions, and unusual ending. Though these criticisms may well be valid, the poem’s apparent flaws may be understood if we regard “Lycidas” as an account of poetic development. On this reading, Lycidas the dead shepherd personifies the narrator’s own lost poetic voice. The poet consequently falters throughout the poem, attempting to describe his distress by means of allusions and by haltingly evoking traditional forms. Though he cycles through multiple genres, none of these forms provide a suitable structure for him to articulate his grief. Only when the poet adopts the third-person perspective and the epic tone can he express himself freely, a narrative development that occurs after we read of Lycidas’ entry into heaven. Fittingly, the lost poetic voice is regained only when the narrator adopts the perspective of the reborn Lycidas: that of eternity and the divine. Intriguingly, James Joyce provides a similar account of the poem’s final perspectival shift. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the young Stephen Dedalus argues that whereas the lyrical form focuses on the poet’s personal emotion, in the epical form, the poet is “invisible…paring his fingernails,” like “the God of creation.” Though Stephen does not specifically mention “Lycidas,” given Joyce’s documented affinity for the poem, we may safely assume that Stephen is thinking of Milton’s early elegy—and admire the aptness of his critique.

Sharon Achinstein

Milton, Divorce, and the Crucible of 1644

This paper explores 1644 as a signal year in Milton’s intellectual development, with his revised divorce tract, Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1644), the crucible. There Milton found his personal faith, a journey that would ultimately lead to his Christian Doctrine, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regain’d. The divorce writings reveal Milton wrestling with, and then deeply revising his theological principles, a struggle that led to a decisive break in his views on Christian doctrine towards a secular principle of justice.

The first edition of Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, a small tract of 48 quarto pages, with two pages of addenda, was anonymously and illegally published in 1643. For the second edition of 1644, also anonymously published and also contravening the Order, the author’s initials graced the title page. There, under censorship conditions, and facing the full heat of the Presbyterian opposition to toleration, Milton expanded his original to 82 quarto pages. As this paper will show, these additions in 1644 were not simply illustrative examples or elaborations. He did add many new sources and more deeply engaged with interlocutors. Yet it was in 1644 that Milton sharpened his theological positions and arrived at something wholly new. This paper shows how his engagements with the topics of marriage and divorce lead to a revision of notions of freedom of the will, and God’s being.

As Milton looked back at his divorce tracts from 1645 he wrote: “I knew I had divulg’d a truth linkt inseparably with the most fundamental rules of Christianity, to stand or fall together.” What Milton realizes he has discovered is the problem of God as the author of sin. Indeed, he subtitles an entire chapter in his 1644 Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce with the problem: “To allow sin by Law, is against the nature of Law… That it makes God the author of sin.” This is the substantial change from the first to the second edition of the tract. It is only through this principle that Milton can find a way forward, privileging God’s justice more than his power. Further, this new conception from 1644 removed marriage from the sphere of divine rule and into a civic life, which was to be built upon foundations of natural justice.

Although Milton neither adopted a Socinian or an Arminian label for himself, the view he came to develop over the divorce writings was that God obeyed the basic order of jurisprudence, that justice be taken as a principle higher even than Divine law. Milton must have been shocked by his own departures from orthodoxy. As neither the result of divine testing nor a punishment for sin, the unhappiness humans felt in this world below, he discovered through his analysis of marriage and divorce, had a meaning and a value. Sharing new findings from recent bibliographic work in preparation for the Oxford Milton edition, it will be shown that 1644 was the moment when Milton took these radical steps.

Nigel Smith

Lovers’ Discourse: The Long Reach of Milton’s Divorce Writings

European scholars of heterodox religion were very recently (2020) astonished by the recovery of a lost and unknown work by the Baptist minister and sometime Fifth Monarchist sympathizer Thomas Tillam (d. c. 1674). The unequall yoke unloosed (1660-1, rev. 1665) exists as a manuscript treatise in a copy at the University Library in Kassel, Germany, and originally came from the collection of the Elector Palatine, Karl I Ludwig (1617-80) in Heidelberg. Tillam is more famous for his insistence of the practice of a Saturday sabbath, and for his career as a somewhat gullible Independent and then Baptist minister in Commonwealth Wales and England. Students of early American literature know him for his much-anthologized poem on the New World, occasioned by his brief visit to colonial New England.

Having been associated with the Fifth Monarchist risings