Dr. Don King‎ > ‎Course Syllabi‎ > ‎

English 305


Fall 2018

3 credit hrs.
MWF 11:00-11:50
MSB 104
Don W. King: Home page
Phone 828-545-3293 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: An intensive study of Milton's poetry with an emphasis on Comus, Samson Agonistes, and Paradise Lost.  

COURSE RATIONALE: Like Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Wordsworth, John Milton is a major figure in British literature. His work is much discussed and read even today, and his writings have influenced countless others through the years. For sheer learning and poetic prowess, he is unmatched in the English language. In addition, he wrote prolifically on matters of state, politics, marriage, and theology, and, thus, illustrates much about the seventeenth century English milieu. For these and other reasons he deserves our attention today.



John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose ed. by Merritt Hughes
A Reader's Guide to John Milton by Marjorie Hope Nicolson
A Preface to Paradise Lost by C. S. Lewis
Strongly recommended:
A Handbook to Literature, Eds. William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th ed), Ed. Joseph Gibaldi.
Also, see Oxford Reference Online www.oxfordreference.com for some basic reference assistance.  It contains desktop access to 100 key Oxford dictionaries and reference works. The Core Collection brings together 100 language and subject dictionaries and reference works - containing well over 60,000 pages - into a single cross-searchable resource. 
Also, see the Oxford English Dictionary, the grandfather of all dictionaries at http://www.oed.com/

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The central objective of this course is to expose you to a careful reading and study of the major poetic works of Milton. Because Milton’s poetry is often a statement about his life and beliefs, a secondary objective will be a general knowledge of his life and the political, social, and religious temper of seventeenth century England. A final objective will be an examination of Milton's extensive use of the Bible in his poetry.

Additionally, there are several questions we will consider as we work through Milton’s poetry, including, but not limited to:

  1. What accounts for the fact that Milton’s poetry is aesthetically beautiful, poetically powerful, and spiritually informative 
  2. What are the important literary qualities of Milton's minor poems
  3. How pivotal is a knowledge of Scripture when reading, analyzing, and interpreting Milton?
  4. What is his "view" of Scripture? Which biblical texts most inform Milton’s poetry, especially Paradise Lost
  5. In considering Milton’s life, what is the value of a comprehensive education informed by both classical and Christian traditions.
  6. What is Milton’s view of the relationship between passion and reason, flesh and spirit, body and soul, matter and spirit? Is his view biblical
  7. What is Milton’s view of marriage? Of the "proper" relationship between husbands and wives?
  8. Who is the real hero of Paradise Lost and why?  
  1. That you read and analyze several of Milton’s major short poems.
  2. That you read and analyze Milton’s poetic masterpiece, Paradise Lost.
  3. That you be able to define a secondary (or literary) epic, and describe its key literary characteristics.
  4. That you write a book review concerning the work of Milton.
  5. That you write a long analytic research paper or complete a creative project.
  6. That you learn to value the literature covered in this course as something that can enrich your life, revealing the complexity of the human experience and informing your spiritual life.


Week 1 Introduction; Milton's life; Early prose and selected poems

Week 2 "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso"

Week 3 Comus

Week 4 Samson Agonistes 


Week 5  Paradise Lost; Introduction and Book I

Week 6 Book II

Week 7 Book III


Week 8 Book IV

Week 9 Book V

Weeks 10-11 Books VI, VII, and VIII


Week 12 Book IX

Week 13 Books X and XI

Week 14  Book XII


  1. There will be tests, essays, and journals that will count 60% of your grade in the course.
  2. A book review on one of the books from the course bibliography (see below) will count 10% (due by midnight, November 11, 2018).
  3. You will write an analytical paper (1,500 to 2,500 words) or develop a creative project on some aspect of Paradise Lost; due by Dec. 2, 2018. This paper or project will count 10% of your final grade.
  4. The remaining 20% will come from your class participation, discussion, regular attendance, homework, reserve and supplemental reading, group work, and various short writing assignments.
  5. There are a total of 1000 pts possible in the course. Final grades will be compiled using the following guidelines:
1000-900    A to A-
899-800      B+ to B-
799-700      C+ to C-
699-600      D+ to D-
599-0          F       
LIBRARY: All students are encouraged to take advantage of the services and resources available from the library.  You can search the online catalog and the library’s databases by going to http://www.montreat.edu/library/

BIBLIOGRAPHY (available on 3-day reserve):

Achinstein, Sharon.  Milton and the Revolutionary Reader.
Blessington, Francis. Paradise Lost: A Student's Companion to the Poem.
Bloom, Harold, ed.  John Milton.
Bush, Douglas.  English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century, 1600-1660.
------------.  Paradise Lost in Our Time.
Danielson, Dennis. The Cambridge Companion to Milton.
Ferry, Anne.  Milton's Epic Voice: The Narrator in Paradise Lost.
Fish, Stanley.  Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost.
Hanford, James H. John Milton, Englishman.
Kermode, Frank. The Living Milton.
King, John N.  Milton and Religious Controversy: Satire and Polemic in Paradise Lost.
Kishlansky, Mark.  A Monarchy Transformed:  Britain 1603-1714.
Martz, Louise Lohr.   Milton, Poet of Exile.
Milton, John.  Paradise Lost (Casebook).
Mulryan, John.  Milton and the Middle Ages.
Nicolson, Marjorie. John Milton: A Reader's Guide to His Poetry.
Rumrich, John P.  Milton Unbound: Controversy and Reinterpretation.
Schwartz, Regina M.  Remembering and Repeating: On Milton's Theology and Poetics.
Sims, James. The Bible in Milton’s Epics.
------------ and Leland Ryken, eds. Milton and Scriptural Tradition: The Bible into Poetry.
Steadman, John.  Milton's Biblical and Classical Imagery.
Thorpe, James. John Milton: The Inner Life.
Tillyard, E. M. W. The Elizabethan World Picture.
------------.  Studies in Milton.
Walker, Julia, ed. Milton and the Idea of Woman.
Wilson, A. N. The Life of John Milton.


To write a successful essay, you will need to follow a process of brainstorming, planning, writing, and revising your essays.  The Writing Center tutors will work with you one-on-one on any or all stages of the writing process.  This academic service is available to assist you in becoming a confident and competent writer.  The Writing Center is not an editing service but a dynamic space for learning about writing through thoughtful conversations with peer tutors.  Sessions usually last 20 minutes, but please be aware that more than one session may be necessary in the process of writing an essay. 

The Writing Center is located in Library 105 and is open Sunday – Thursday.  Our normal hours of operation are between 6:00 and 11:00 pm.  An appointment is not necessary, but please be aware that the Writing Center is crowded when a professor assigns a Writing Center visit to a whole class, so don’t wait until the last minute.  You may contact Dr. Kimberly Angle at kangle@montreat.edu if you have questions.  We are now offering Daytime Writing Scholars to be available during limited hours in the Thrive for writing consultations.  Hours will be posted in the Thrive Center and on the library/Thrive Center web page.  Daytime Writing Scholars will also have contact information posted so that you can let them know you’re coming and/or send in your essay for them to read prior to the consultation.  In addition, please know that an excellent internet resource is available to you at all times‑‑Purdue University’s OWL (On‑line Writing Lab).  This site provides an authoritative resource for composition, grammar, and citation.  The address is http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY:  For all individual assignments students are expected to present their own work; documentation of research must follow the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Paper, 8th edition. Cases of academic dishonesty, including but not limited to cheating and plagiarism, will result in either failure of the assignment or the course.
FINAL COMMENTS: This syllabus and other details about the course, including your grades for the course, are available through the college's online platform, Moodle. Please email me at dking@montreat.edu if you need help with any aspect of the course.

For disability information, contact our Wesley Davis (Wesley.davis@montreat.edu) our Disability Services Coordinator.
I reserve the right to make minor changes to the syllabus and course requirements as we move through the semester.
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