[Milton-L] Paradise Lost, Hell, Ecology, and Industry

Sara van den Berg vandens at slu.edu
Mon Apr 23 19:14:00 EDT 2007

Justin Barnes Kolb wrote:
> Hello,
> This project might be a little unformed but I thought I'd put some feelers out. I'm kicking around a vague idea for a Murfreesboro conference paper on PL. It would be about the role of mining, industry, smithing, gunnery, and various other technological manipulations of metal and earth in Hell and the actions of the devils. At the moment I'm thinking of a sort of ecocritical reading, with the infernal and strenuous novelty and ingenuity of the devils contrasted to the gentle gardening of Adam and Eve in Eden. I though it might be interesting to examine the relationship between Milton's ideas about nature, improvement, and work and the ideas of the Diggers. I'm also considering a tenuous, if possibiy interesting analogy, between the "darkness visible" of Hell and a world lit by the burning of fossil fuels.
> Can anyone recommend some good critical texts on Milton and ecology, ideas of nature and work from the period, or any work on technology and culture in Milton?
> Thanks,
> Justin Kolb
> UW-Madison
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For ideas about nature in the period, do check Carolyn Merchant's /The 
Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution/, as well 
as some earlier work in intellectual history: Eric LaGuardia, /Nature 
Redeemed: Order in Three Renaissance Poems/ and Arthur O. Lovejoy's 
essay on the meanings of "nature."  About work, see John Guillory,  
"Dalila's House: /Samson Agonistes/ and the Sexual Division of Labor" in 
/Rewriting the Renaissance/, ed Ferguson et al.  Recent writings that 
might be especially relevant include Diane McColley's essay, "Ecology 
and Empire," and Kenneth Hiltner's book, /Milton and Ecology/.  Hope 
some of these will be useful, but they may only be tangential to your 
interesting project.

Sara van den Berg

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