English 122 - Spring, 2023


Class Information

Instructor: Werth, Tiffany Jo
Time: TR 12:10-1:30pm
Location: 202 Wellman
GE Areas: Writing Experience


In this course, we will be engaging with some of the seminal works of John Milton, including Paradise Lost and a sample of his early poetry and prose. Our way of reading will explore the built environment of the story as poem: its sound, its verse, its rhetoric, and its characters. We will be particularly attentive to the worlding (that is the world building) that the language of the poem enacts. Simultaneously, we will be exploring the poem as story by noting its origins, atmosphere, and climate environs. We will follow its crosshatching of multiple worlds and life forms including human beings, vegetal, mineral, animal, and more-than-human entities?as they traverse space and time. We will be attentive to how matter, energy, information, and physical laws or cosmology, as well as religious views, constrain and construct domains. We will also examine Milton?s unconventional representations of creation, the natural world, and human systems such as justice and government. As we read, we will ask what it means to be human and how the stories we tell might create interpenetrating dimensions, alternate planes, potential futures.

*Please note this is a single author course featuring the major work of John Milton, a figure who may, without dissection, appear as a conforming Anglo-, Protestant male from a majority white England. His work explores hierarchy, rebellion, exclusion, a form of what we may now call settler colonialism, and off shore world building. But his life and work also questions and challenges the systems of power that were then emerging. His thought contains a radical heterodoxy that resists and subverts many of the power structures of his own time in critical ways. We may not always agree with his portrayal of species, race, religious belief, gender, sexuality, ability, or age. We will all find different points of connection and difference as we read, but we ask that you share your perspective and listen respectfully to the others? views. We do not assume that you?ll love Milton, who himself famously said ?fit readers, though few,? but we will wrestle together with the questions he poses for us about world building, about the environment, and about multi-species inhabitation. We will explore how Milton?s political as well as imaginative realms open up multiple worlds inhabited by more-than-human forces and entities that question the ultimate authority.


Course Requirements:
Weekly Tutorial Attendance (allowance of up to 3 unexcused absences no penalty): 5%
Weekly Tutorial Engagement in assigned group role: 10%
Weekly Lecture Comprehension Quizzes via Canvas (10, lowest score dropped): 10%
First Essay: Analyzing a worlding? trope (3-4 pp / no secondary research) 20%
Research Essay: more-than-human worlds (6-8 pp.) 30%
Annotated Bibliography of peer-reviewed essay sources along the model of They Say / I Say 150 words per entry. Submitted with the Critical Research Essay: 5%
Final Exam: A Cosmic, Creative Reflection 20%


Paradise Lost , Milton, John. Edited, with Introduction, by David Scott Kastan