John Milton and Paradise Lost

Ref: C3530665

The course works through arguably the greatest epic poem in the English language, John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Written following the Restoration of Charles II, in the wake of the defeat of Milton’s dreams of a radical, republican England, the poet seeks not only to ‘justify the ways of God to men’, but to argue for the necessity of a world governed by ‘Rational liberty’. Few works of literature are so deeply bound up in their times or present a clearer analysis of a morally compromised world that also remains relevant to our own times. As well as being introduced to the life of Milton and the work's historical context, students will have the opportunity to study the key characteristics of Milton's poetic language. It will also be an objective of the course to consider different interpretations of the work over time and in different cultures; and the ways in which Milton has been a source of inspiration to other artists including Joseph Haydn, William Blake and Philip Pullman.

Additional information about this course

NB No fee waiver is available on this course

Course aim

To work through the twelve books of Milton's epic poem about the events leading up to and beyond Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden in the light of the religious and political ideas that shaped both the work and Milton's own life.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Provide an outline of the key narrative events of Paradise Lost
  • Recognise the way that Paradise Lost reflects aspects of seventeenth century English culture, not least religious, social and political ideas that developed during the Civil War period and that were defeated at the Restoration of 1660. Augustus and that later translations of the Aeneid similarly reflect the cultures of other people living in different places at different times.
  • Carry out simple analysis of the language of the text.
  • Participate in and make informed contributions to discussions about the meaning and value of Paradise Lost from a personal perspective.
  • Understand the way in which other artists have subsequently been inspired by Paradise Lost to produce works that might be quite different in character.

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

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

What else do I need to know?

  • Students should try to obtain a copy of Paradise Lost. Hard copy or digital. Any edition will do. Many copies are to be found for sale cheaply in internet 2nd hand book stores.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Students ight like to read some or all of Paradise Lost prior to the course start although this is not essential to understanding or enjoyment of the course. Each session will cover, in sequence, two of the work's twelve books.

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

John Milton and Paradise Lost

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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