Brief Description of Course: An intensive textual and historical study of the major poetry and prose of John Milton (1608-1674), England’s most influential poet. The bulk of the course will be devoted to a close reading of Paradise Lost, generally considered to be the greatest poetic achievement in English.Too often caricatured as a stodgy mainstay of the English literary canon, we will read Milton in light of his unorthodox views on revolution, freedom, and marriage. We will situate his texts in their historical contexts, reading them against the political and religious conflicts related to the English Revolution, rise and fall of the English Commonwealth, and the Restoration of the monarchy. We will also think about Milton’s experiments in poetic form, his use of biblical and classical antecedents, and his preoccupation with literary vocation. Students will emerge from ENG303 as careful, alert readers of Milton’s major works, with a clear sense of the connections between Milton and his historical moment.