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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Postgraduate Course: Paradise Lost (ENLI11249)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course offers students the opportunity to read one of the world's great books over the course of a semester. It will introduce the most important formal aspects of 'Paradise Lost', its key ethical and political concerns, and the context in which it was written. It begins by exploring what role Milton creates for the reader in the poem by examining its poetic and rhetorical techniques as well as its response to the conventions of classical epic and to scriptural sources. The poem's vision of God and of human nature -- including, most controversially, the differences between men and women -- will be considered along with its core philosophical preoccupations with evil, free will, and self-determination. But Milton was also a political revolutionary, an outspoken defender of parliament during the civil war and of the regicide and republican government that followed. We'll consider how this context, along with the collapse of Milton's hopes at the Restoration, affects Paradise Lost's account of obedience and rebellion, justice and injustice, and liberty.
Course description tudents will be expected to devote considerable individual preparation time to the close reading and re-reading of each book of 'Paradise Lost'. In addition, they will be expected to consult a range of supplementary and secondary material, including extracts from Milton's political and religious writing and other contextual sources. A further aim of the course is to familiarise students with the key interpretive debates inspired by Milton's poem which also provide a valuable overview of the history of criticism. Students will be guided towards a range of secondary material that best represents these critical debates. Working together in Autonomous Learning Groups, students will consider specific points of interpretation relating to the primary text, as well as issues of critical controversy. Individually, and in their Autonomous Learning Groups, students will be encouraged to develop their own responses and on that basis to assess critically previous interpretations. Seminar discussion will be grounded in individual and group responses to the primary text, supplemented by consideration of contextual and critical reading. Critical understanding of the poem and the skill to develop an argument in relation to its close analysis will be assessed through coursework. At the end of the course, students should know the poem well, understand some of the most significant critical debates it has elicited, and become confident readers of it.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of 'Paradise Lost'.
  2. Students should also be able to demonstrate understanding of the major critical debates produced by the poem.
  3. Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of the poem's cultural context.
  4. Students should be able to undertake independent critical analysis of 'Paradise Lost'.
  5. Students should be able to demonstrate advanced critical awareness of the primary text and its interpretive debates
Reading List
Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Alastair Fowler, revised 2nd ed, Longman Annotated English Poets, 2007.

Further Reading

Sharon Achinstein, Milton and the Revolutionary Reader (Princeton, 1994)
David Armitage, Armand Himy, and Quentin Skinner (eds.), Milton and Republicanism (Cambridge, 1995)
Thomas N. Corns, Milton's Language (Oxford, 1990)
Dennis Danielson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Milton, 2nd edn. (Cambridge, 1999)
William Empson, Milton's God (1965)
Stanley Fish, Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost (1967; 2nd edn. Cambridge, Mass., 1997)
Neil Forsyth, The Satanic Epic (Princeton, 2003)
Peter C. Herman, Destabilizing Milton: Paradise Lost and the Poetics of Incertitude (New York and Basingstoke, 2005)
David Lowenstein, Milton and the Drama of History (Cambridge, 1990)
Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (New York, 1977)
Nicholas McDowell and Nigel Smith (eds), Oxford Handbook of Milton (Oxford, 2011)
William Poole, The Making of Paradise Lost (Harvard, 2017)
William Poole, Milton and the Idea of the Fall (Cambridge, 2005)
David Quint, Inside Paradise Lost (Princeton, 2014)
Christopher Ricks, Milton's Grand Style (Oxford, 1963)
Gordon Teskey, The Poetry of John Milton (Harvard, 2015)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills As an outcome of having studied this course, students will have developed their personal and professional skills commensurate with the range of SCQF Level 11 characteristics:
Knowledge and understanding: through their reading and discussion of the course material, students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate critical literary analysis in relation both to the primary text and in relation to the critical debates it has produced
Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion, presentations and formal assessment tasks, students will have applied their reading of the primary text and secondary sources so as to develop critical arguments about the course material;
Generic Cognitive Skills: in completing their assessed coursework and class presentations, students will have practiced identifying, defining, conceptualising and analysing complex problems and issues that are relevant both to this specific work but also more broadly to the critical study of literature;
Communication: through class discussion and presentation and through the work undertaken in their Autonomous Learning Groups, students will have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information to an informed audience of their peers;
Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work independently and in small groups on designated tasks. They will have demonstrated the ability to support each other by sharing and developing ideas with their peers, and by taking responsibility for the reporting, analysis and defence of these ideas to a larger group.
KeywordsMilton,Paradise Lost
Course organiserDr Dermot Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)50 3618
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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