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John Milton: Paradise Lost

Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost through a modern lens and contribute to the still-expanding scholarship of Milton’s enduring masterpiece.
This course is archived
Estimated 4 weeks
2–8 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course
First published more than 350 years ago, Paradise Lost retells the biblical story of Adam and Eve in English heroic verse, imitating classical models of epic poetry. Milton’s poem, along with its arguments regarding free will, tyranny, and slavery, informed modern conceptions of civil liberty, republican government, and free speech. In the United States, men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams credit Milton’s poem as having shaped their ideas of religious and civil liberty in a democratic republic.

In this DartmouthX course, learners will use the Milton Reading Room’s online resources and links to contribute to an ever-growing body of scholarship. Originally developed in 1997 by Dartmouth's Professor Thomas Luxon and his students, The John Milton Reading Room is an online scholarly edition of all of Milton’s poetry in English, Latin, and Italian, and selected prose works in English.

The annotations and glosses to Paradise Lost in the Reading Room not only help readers make their way through a notoriously difficult poem, they also provide links to the classical, biblical, religious, and historical works to which the poem so frequently refers. This makes informed engagement with Milton’s epic poem more possible than it ever has been.

At a glance

  • Language: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • New ways to read and understand Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • How to research and pose questions in the service of reading
  • Annotation of the poem (some annotations may be incorporated into the Milton Reading Room)
  • Experimentation with crowd-sourced scholarship about Paradise Lost
  • Reading strategies that can be applied to any early modern text
The course engages with Milton’s ideas through the following eight modules:
  • What is an epic poem? What is an epic hero?
  • Milton’s Epic Verse
  • How is Milton’s Satan heroic? And not?
  • Milton’s God
  • Marriage—The New Heroic Subject?
  • The Bible Story and Milton’s Story
  • Political Ideology in Paradise Lost: What are the Origins of Tyranny and Slavery?
  • Genres in Paradise Lost

About the instructors

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