[Milton-L] response to Richard Strier, et al, on Greenblatt

Crystal L Bartolovich clbartol at syr.edu
Wed Sep 16 13:20:32 EDT 2015

Totally agree with Richard that Greenblatt appears to give up too easily
in that piece.  

But, on the other hand, I must admit that I have had to shift the teaching
of my upper division Milton class considerably over the years. When I
first started teaching as a grad student in the 1980s, I could presume
that most students could get Shakespeare AND Milton on their own and so I
spent class time only on broader critical and historical issues.  I
definitely cannot make that assumption with Milton now or an alarming
number of students would fail.

Even honors students truly cannot read Milton at first AT ALL.  So, at the
beginning of the term, I have to have the students read a few lines out
loud and venture to say what they mean‹ every student, in turn, in every
class.  THIS IS REALLY REALLY HARD for my students (who are not U Chicago
undergrads, admittedly) to do, but between this rigorous in-class work,
and ample paraphrasing homework, most of them DO get it, and we can spend
time on more sophisticated questions of interpretation.

But some of them require very considerable coaching during office hours
until the very end, and a few fail.  So I don¹t think that the diagnosis
of less verbal facility is false, but rather that there are antidotes
other than throwing in the towel and letting them make films or
whatever‹and that those other remedies are more valuable.

By far I get the most notes of appreciation from Milton students, saying
how proud they are that they stuck the course out and how much they

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