ENGL 403: Milton Fall 2017/Hibbs 440/TR 5:30-6:45
Dr. Campbell/Anderson 205/Office hours T & TH 3:30-4:30 & by appt./828-1172/
This course of study is dedicated to William Kerrigan, my first Milton teacher, who prophesied I would become a Miltonist.

Cognitive Disciplines and Learning Objectives for this course

Zooming In: We will practice attending to specific uses of interesting language (words, phrases, analogies, metaphors, poetic form, etc.) in each work of verbal art we read together. By the end of the semester, you should be able to identify these specific uses of interesting language more frequently on your own, and to describe them and the way they function in verbal art with greater precision. (This list is not exhaustive.) Ideally, you should emerge from this class better able to do these things in the works by Milton we read together, in works by Milton that we do not read together, and in instances of verbal art outside the primary focus of our class.

Zooming Out:  We will practice identifying and describing ways in which interesting language contributes to major themes, concepts, large formal structures, and other larger-scale elements of works of verbal art, short and long. In addition, we will practice thinking about ways in which works of verbal art both reflect and help to shape the cultures from which they emerge, as well as the cultures that will come after them. (This list is not exhaustive.) Ideally, you should emerge from this class better able to do these things in the works by Milton we read together, in works by Milton that we do not read together, and in instances of verbal art outside the primary focus of our class.

Connecting: Using a variety of approaches under the general heading of what Douglas Hofstadter calls “fluid concepts and creative analogies,” we will identify, imagine, and share connections among the works we study: connections among the creative strategies and accomplishments in these works, among writers and readers across boundaries of time and space, among recurring ideas, questions, and problems expressed in the verbal art we read, and especially among ourselves as fellow learners who live within many cultures and identities and are bound on this journey together. (This list is not exhaustive.) Ideally, you should emerge from this class better able to do these things in the works by Milton we read together, in works by Milton that we do not read together, and in instances of verbal art outside the primary focus of our class.

Note: the better you get at these three practices, the more they will stimulate each other. A virtuous cycle!

Areas of practice:
Our class meetings will combine all of these cognitive practices, which is why you should attend class regularly.
**Presentations, your research paper, and the final exam will combine all of these cognitive practices.
**Our work in will be a primary area for practicing zooming in and connecting. Set up your account at, please, by Tuesday, August 29. Our group is MiltonF17. I will email you the URL to join the group.
**Your course blog will be a primary area for practicing zooming out and connecting. It’s also a way to become a stronger participant-observer. The course motherblog ( is an easy way to read your classmates’ blogs and find the ones you’d like to comment on, or link to. If you don’t have a blog site already on, VCU’s connected learning platform, please set one up there. If you already have an account, you can work from your existing blog site, or you can start a new blog site (RamPages allows for multiple sites for each account). Please have your site ready to go by Tuesday, August 29—and please email me the site URL when it’s ready.

Additional Opportunity for Miltonauts:
Your participation is especially encouraged during our all-night Paradise Lost readathon, when as a community of students joined by professors and community members we will read a great poem aloud to each other over the course of approximately 12 hours, thereby bringing Milton’s verse into fuller, deeper life.

Textbooks (available at campus bookstore)
Kerrigan, Rumrich, Fallon, eds. Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton (Random House, 2007)
Danielson, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Milton, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1999) – CCM on syllabus
Schwartz, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost (Cambridge, 2014) – CCPL on syllabus


Syllabus (beta: subject to change)

8/24         Introductions, testimonials, fair warnings; setting up websites; energizing principles.
8/29         “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”
8/31         “L’Allegro,” “Il Penseroso,” CCM 1-24, 54-69 – assignment 1 posted
9/5           A Mask (“Comus”), CCM 25-38 – assignment 1 due
9/7           A Mask (“Comus”)
9/12         “Lycidas,” CCM 39-53
9/14         Blog beautification day (asynchronous online class work – see course site for assignment) – assignment 2 posted
9/19         “Apology for Smectymnuus” (sel.), “The Reason of Church Government” (sel.), CCM 84-97 — assignment 2 due
9/21         “Areopagitica”
9/26         “Areopagitica”  CCM 236-252
9/28         Paradise Lost: an introduction to its epic theodicy. CCPL 3-16 –
9/30 in Cabell Library’s Reading Porch: Paradise Lost readathon (9 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
10/3         Book 1, CCPL 81-93 – assignment 3 posted
10/5         PL 2   (Satan–Conner and Zach) , CCM 160-174, CCPL 17-41 assignment 3 due
10/10      PL 3 (Milton’s God–Dakota), CCM 144-159, CCPL 42-54
10/12 assignment 4 posted (asynchronous online class work)
10/17      Sonnet 19, Sonnet 23 (Jillian) – assignment 4 due
10/19     No class meeting (Reading Days)
10/24      PL 4 (Paradise–Hannah), CCPL 125-137
10/26      PL 4 (Adam and Eve–Gabby and Christian), CCM 175-192, CCPL 152-163 –
10/31      PL 5 (Monism, Meals, Law–Jessica ), CCM 253-267 –
11/2         PL 6 (War In Heaven–Ben), CCM 193-201, CCPL 138-151 assignment 5 posted
11/3 Last day at VCU to withdraw from classes
11/7         PL 7 (Creation–Ellie),  CCPL 109-122 assignment 5 due
11/9         PL 8 (Curiosity and Knowledge–Marc and Brandon), CCM 130-143 –
11/14      PL 9 (Separation Argument–Alisha), CCPL 164-178
11/16      PL 8 continued (Marc and Brandon)
11/21     PL 9 (Temptation and Fall–Brett and Dan), CCM 144-159 assignment 6 posted
11/28      PL 10 (Judgment and Death–Rachel and Nicole)
11/30      PL 10 (Mercy and Redemption) – Dr. assignment 6 due
12/5        PL 11 (Typology–Allie), CCPL 68-80 – assignment 7 posted
12/7         PL 12 (Exile–Dr. C.), CCPL 179-192 – Conclusion (Research Paper Due)
12/14      FINAL EXAM 4:00-6:50 pm assignment 7 due

* With a partner or alone, one class presentation on an individual poem, prose work, or book of Paradise Lost, including an annotated bibliography (MLA style) of at least two books and four critical essays (bibliography to be posted to your Rampages site and handed out to the class).
* I expect you to publish at least two substantive (creative, engaged, interesting) blog posts each week, related to our course work, spread throughout the week (i.e., not two on one day), beginning the week of August 29. I also expect you to comment on two of your classmates’ blog posts each week. Linking to a classmate’s post in an interesting way counts as a comment.
* There are seven (7) assignments. Their posting and due dates are on the syllabus. I expect you to contribute two substantive annotations to each assignment. Responding substantively to a classmate’s annotation counts as an annotation. Text, images, audio, all welcome.
* One 10-12 pp. paper (may be based on your oral presentation) to include both your critical work and substantial work with secondary sources (documented in MLA style).  All papers are due in class on the due date.  Late papers will receive no credit.  I will grant extensions for genuine emergencies only. All papers must either be emailed to me or be printed, double spaced, and secured with a paper clip only.
* A final exam. The final exam is cumulative, and is completely open-book. It will be given in our regular classroom on the date and time noted in the syllabus.

If you have a laptop or any other mobile computer, including of course a smartphone, please bring the one with the biggest and/or most useful screen and keyboard to each class meeting.

GRADING:  Papers, exams, and class participation are graded on a 100-point scale:
A+             98 100     B+             87 89       C+             77 79                         D+             67 69       F 59 and below
A               93 97       B                83 86       C                73 76                         D               63 66
A               90 92       B                80 82       C                70 72                         D               60 62

Weighting for each assignment:
Research Paper      30%          Research presentation          20% participation 10%
Final exam               25%          Blog participation 15%

ATTENDANCE:  Voluntary, but see above under class participation.  You are (of course) responsible for all material covered during your absence.

BLACKBOARD:  I will use our course Blackboard site for the gradebook and to make available to you a list of relevant university policies. Please familiarize yourself with these policies and contact me if you have any questions. The course syllabus and other class materials will be posted to