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Milton: Paradise Lost: Religious and Literary Background

16. Conclusion

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we summarise the ideas of the previous three modules; first, the question of man's free-will vis-a-vis Fall was one the most important problems in Christian theology, with theologians such as Augustine of Hippo suggesting that Eve was not capable of resisting the temptation to take from the Tree of Knowledge; for Milton, morality without free-will was simply meaningless, and he goes out of his way in Paradise Lost to emphasise that Eve was able to resist temptation, but chose not to; finally, we explored the intellectual affinity between Paradise Lost and an earlier pamphlet that Milton wrote, which concerned freedom of the press.

Course

In this course, Dr Edmund White (University of Oxford) explores the religious and literary background of Paradise Lost. This course provides an introduction to the religious culture of seventeenth-century England, and shows how this culture influenced the composition of Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. This course falls into two halves. In the first half: we explore the principal Christian ideas that feature in Milton’s narration of the fall of Adam and Eve; in the second half, we look at the political implications of the religious ideas articulated in Paradise Lost. In both halves, we take examples from key moments of the poem, as well as from other writings by Milton and his seventeenth-century contemporaries.

Lecturer

Dr Edmund White completed his D. Phil. in English Literature at the University of Oxford in January 2014. Supervised by Sharon Achinstein, the title of his thesis was “The Concept of Discipline: Poetry, Rhetoric, and the Church in the Works of John Milton”. The main interest of his research thus far has been in the intersection between mainstream ecclesiastical politics and literature in Milton's works. Discipline, his thesis argues, is a complex concept in Milton's writing, that develops over time: whereas it denotes coercive and persuasive ecclesiastical power in his early prose, his later poetry treats the concept in terms of personal, moral piety.

His future research will seek to compare Milton’s understanding of piety in his later works with the pieties advocated by other contemporaries of different confessional persuasions: Bunyan, Baxter, Traherne, Vaughan.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

White, E. (2018, August 15). Milton: Paradise Lost: Religious and Literary Background - Conclusion [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/milton-paradise-lost-religious-and-literary-background/conclusion-154116ed-c2f3-43d0-8543-a0dce6a601b9

MLA style

White, Edmund. "Milton: Paradise Lost: Religious and Literary Background – Conclusion." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/milton-paradise-lost-religious-and-literary-background/conclusion-154116ed-c2f3-43d0-8543-a0dce6a601b9