[Milton-L] Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom

gilliaca at jmu.edu gilliaca at jmu.edu
Wed Aug 2 22:55:38 EDT 2006

>They can be useful in the classroom to define a crux to be 
>examined--one has to start somewhere.

Precisely. I expect I am getting curmudgeonly as I approach 
retirement, but I feel like the place from which one starts 
in teaching Milton to undergraduates gets more remote every 
time. I teach the course alterating with a colleague, so it's 
every 2nd or 3rd year. It seems like each successive 
beginning starts further away from the text, in that 
students, with some exceptions, bring less and less 

1. experience in reading older literature

2. experience in reading poetry other than modern self-
referential lyric

3. knowledge of history - US or English

4. general knowledge - like why the rooster crowing in 
L'Allegro fits the theme of fertility and sexuality

5. vocabulary

6. knowledge of the Bible 

7. knowledge of Greek/Roman myths

They are not unwilling to learn, by any means, but the whole 
enterprise of reading Milton must feel very very uphill for 
many who have lots of intelligence to apply to it.


Cynthia A. Gilliatt
English Department, JMU
JMU Safe Zones participant
"You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people you hate." Fr. John Weston

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