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Milton - Audio

by John Rogers

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(ENGL 220) This course is a study of Milton's poetry, with attention paid to his literary sources, his contemporaries, his controversial prose, and his decisive influence on the course of English poetry. Throughout the course, Professor Rogers explores the advantages and limitations of a diverse range of interpretive techniques and theoretical concerns in Milton scholarship and criticism. Lectures include close readings of lyric and epic poetry, prose, and letters; biographical inquiries; examinations of historical and political contexts; and engagement with critical debates. This course was recorded in Fall 2007.

Customer Reviews

Excellent introduction to Milton

It took hearing -- rather than reading -- Paradise Lost (via the Lesser recording on Naxos) to get me into Milton, but once there Roger's course was enough to cement my interest in the works and the man. His personable, at times self-confessional style (how many Milton scholars would admit they watch soap operas) lightly carries the burden this most weighty of poets. Taking a generally chronological approach to the life and works, he discusses, with some degree of iconoclastic insight, Milton's involvement in politics, his family life, misogyny and blindness, among other things. My favorite moments are when Roger's does a "close reading" of a line or two, extracting deep meanings, often quite movingly. There usually is at least one of these in each lecture.

My main regret is that the lectures by Roger's two teaching fellows were not included, especially since one of them apparently covered Paradise Lost's Battle in Heaven. As portrayed by Milton this a sort of mash-up of the battles in the Lord of the Rings but with even grander cosmological consequences. (The script writers for the LOTR movies undoubtedly knew their Milton.)

The course presupposes some knowledge of the basic tenants of Christianity and the contents of the Bible, mainly the Old Testament. It also helps to have some background in Greek and Roman mythology. What you need to know can be looked up online or can usually be found in the footnotes of a good printed edition of Milton (such as the new one by Kerrigan or the old one by Hughes, the latter being the edition used in the course).