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

Jeffrey Theis jtheis at salemstate.edu
Tue Apr 24 11:24:07 EDT 2007

McColley and Hiltner both are great choices. Diane's work on the arts of Eden in _A Gust for Paradise_ provides a nice counterpoint to the more Hellish "arts" of Satan and his technology. I don't have it here with me, but Mary Fenton's new book on place in Milton might also be worth a look. To be self-serving, you might also look at my essay "The Environmental Ethics of Paradise Lost" from MS 34. In the essay, I look at Satan, the Son, and Adam and Eve as having contrasting readings or providing contrasting models of the "to Till and keep" injunction. Satan's warfaring technology is a negative example of subduing the material world. You might also consider architecture as a kind of technology, and my essay "Milton's Principles of Architecture" is in ELR 35:1. That essay looks at the intersection between ecology/nature and architecture. Enough with marketing my own work. There are many, many good broader works on ecocriticism out there, but I'm not sure if your time constraints will allow for much more than Sara's suggestions.

Good luck with the project--it will be quite fun.


Jeffrey S. Theis
Assistant Professor; Department of English
311 Library (Office)
Mailing Address:
   Salem State College
   352 Lafayette Street
   Salem, MA 01970-5353
Phone:(978) 542-6845
E-Mail: jtheis at salemstate.edu 
Home Page: http://www.salemstate.edu/~jtheis/ 
>>> Justin Barnes Kolb <jbkolb at wisc.edu> 04/24/07 10:43 AM >>>
I actually have that book out from the library for a different project, so I'll jump right into it. Thanks.


----- Original Message -----
From: Sara van den Berg <vandens at slu.edu>
Date: Monday, April 23, 2007 7:50 pm
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Paradise Lost, Hell, Ecology, and Industry
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu

> Sara van den Berg wrote:
> > 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
> >>
> >
> This afternoon, after sending my earlier message, I happened to read 
> Daniel Tiffany's essay, "Lyric Substance: On Riddles, Materialism, and 
> Poetic Obscurity,"
>  which devotes one section to a discussion of Milton's "darkness 
> visible."  The essay is included in /Things/, ed. Bill Brown (U of 
> Chicago Press, 2004), which reprints a special issue of /Critical 
> Inquiry/.  
> Sara van den Berg
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