Paradise Lost - John Milton's epic poem of political failure

Ref: C3529049

Paradise Lost (1674) – John Milton’s epic poem of political failure. As a protagonist in Oliver Cromwell’s bloody republican adventure of the 17th century, John Milton had high hopes of a new form of governance for his benighted country. With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, however, Milton narrowly escaped execution, devoting life in obscurity to his great poem of tragic loss and existential despair. Over ten weeks we will read aloud together key passages from the 13 books of Paradise Lost, following closely its fantastical narrative, the drama of its unlikely protagonists and the heartrending poetry arising from Milton’s own sense of failure and the loss of his sight. Milton's ambiguous use of theological and biblical ideas, images and narrative may seem tragically relevant to our current circumstances.

Course aim

To read the entirety of John Milton's great epic poem, Paradise Lost (1674), appreciating its historical context, personal motivations and poetic achievement. To understand the biblical sources of much of the narrative and drama.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Confidently appreciate the nature of challenging literary texts.
  • Understand how the political and personal circumstances of the poet affect the nature of his/her work.
  • Appreciate the ambition and purpose of epic poetry.
  • Understand how source material (biblical, mythological, historical) is transformed by the poet's vision.
  • Enjoy a classic work of poetic art in all its aspects.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • Need a copy of John Milton's Paradise Lost - the Penguin Classics edition, or the Oxford World's Classics edition.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

Download full course outline

Paradise Lost - John Milton's epic poem of political failure Course Outline

Enrolment Conditions

You can enrol online if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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