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15. John Milton, Free Will, and Freedom: The Example of Areopagitica
- About this Lecture
About this Lecture
In this lecture, we explore Milton's beliefs on free will in another of his texts, a treatise on the freedom of the press called Areopagitica, which he wrote in 1645. While press freedom may seem like an exclusively political concern to the modern audience, Milton actually uses Adam and Eve as an example for why the press ought to be free. Indeed, verbal echoes between the Areopagitica and Paradise Lost suggest an intellectual affinity between the two texts: both argue, in different ways, that temptation should be sought out rather than avoided because it provides the opportunity for the exercise of virtuous self-control
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.
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
White, E. (2018, August 15). Milton: Paradise Lost: Religious and Literary Background - John Milton, Free Will, and Freedom: The Example of Areopagitica [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/milton-paradise-lost-religious-and-literary-background/john-milton-free-will-and-freedom-the-example-of-areopagitica
White, Edmund. "Milton: Paradise Lost: Religious and Literary Background – John Milton, Free Will, and Freedom: The Example of Areopagitica." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/milton-paradise-lost-religious-and-literary-background/john-milton-free-will-and-freedom-the-example-of-areopagitica