[Milton-L] Poetry--and Prose

Hugh Wilson wilsonh at gram.edu
Mon Sep 5 19:00:33 EDT 2016


​Dear Professor Oventile,


With due respect to your irenic close, I can't help but notice the omission of Professor Urban and Professor Savoie in your critique.

Surely we are sufficiently self-disciplined so that we don't need a censor. Those who aspire to that role should be even-handed, but better yet, we needn't take time to admonish people for relatively innocuous comments. Until recently no one has even mentioned the elephant or the donkey sitting in the room. I wasn't even dreaming of addressing that contentious  conundrum.


Discussing Milton and the general state of the humanities seems appropriate for admirers of Milton's Areopagitica or John Stuart Mill's On Liberty.  Shouldn't we encourage discussion and debate rather than trying to arrest freedom of speech?


If anyone demurs, they have an easy recourse: they can always push the delete button.


Hugh F. Wilson, PhD

Professor, Department of English

  and Foreign Languages

Grambling State University

Grambling, LA 71245

Cell: (318) 548-9817

Home: (318) 254-1190

wilsonh at gram.edu


Entirely Optional Postscript.


At state universities in conservative states like Louisiana, most administrators are conservative or studiously,  astutely apolitical. I can't imagine what it is that Professor Savoie fears.  The evil winds of questionable doctrine don't always come from the leftward quarter. Thirty-one states have Republican governors.


I've taught at Kenyon, Texas Tech, SUNY-Plattsburgh and Grambling State.  Only the first might be said to have a consistently progressive bureaucracy.  All of the others are conservative, pseudo-liberal or prudently apolitical.  No one wants to offend those who hold the purse-strings if that can be avoided.


We all know that Milton is not stodgy, conservative or  reactionary.  If anyone objects to Milton on ideological grounds here at GSU--and I doubt that is the reason--it might be for the opposite reasons.  State institutions in conservative states are not notably progressive.


Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal are examples of governors who disdain the humanities in favor of shallow vocationalist

work-force development.  Even Obama made a thoughtless remark about majoring in art history and that made Kennedy's remarks refreshing. Public education has been de-funded in state after state. Since 2010, the number of  students enrolled in higher education in under-developed Louisiana has diminished by 10,000 as tuition has risen by 66%.  Only about 20% of the citizens in this state have a college degree.


In Louisiana, students are being funneled toward junior colleges where the humanities courses are vestigial, the teaching

loads are onerous and the adjunct faculty are being drained by wages approximating those at McDonald's.  In Louisiana, the

community colleges resemble academic sweat-shops that are almost entirely staffed by MA's teaching five course loads

(or whatever work they can get) per semester for meager pay.


Free-thought is not at issue.  As the reactionary Thomas Hobbes  remarked, "Thought is quick."  Free expression is another matter when tenure isn't accessible or when tenured faculty are being  threatened with lay-offs.


In public institutions where there are attempts to stifle or strangle the humanities, where there are attempts to curtail the canon, John Milton is among those old masters most at risk.






​




________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on behalf of Robert Oventile <rsoventile at earthlink.net>
Sent: Monday, September 5, 2016 3:39 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Poetry

Dear HFW, David, Nancy, and Milton-L participants:

Is the following comment


  1.  too obvious to be worth mentioning?
  2.  already stated in this or another thread somewhere?
  3.  an invitation to unproductive standoffs among firmly held positions?
  4.  mistaken?
  5.  worth saying?


The comment: The last person who would want to quarantine contemporary politics from a discussion of John Milton would be John Milton.

If any of 1-4, I withdraw the comment.

If at all 5, I look forward to any responses to the comment.

In solidarity with reasonable reasons, moderate hopes, and compassionate love,
Robert Oventile





On 9/5/16, 12:56 PM, "Hugh Wilson" <earlymodern at att.net> wrote:

When the humanities--as such--are under attack from
reactionary governors prompted by right-wing think tanks,
defenses of the humanities are always welcome. Mere
cynicism encourages capitulation to absurdity. If we care
about our profession, we must resist regressive trends.

A few years ago, when I offered to teach an extra class (on
Milton)--for free--my request was denied. The class was closed
and interested students were enrolled elsewhere before
I could appeal.

Academic freedom is tenuous at many institutions. Bureaucrats
often try to control freak the curricula and marginalize the faculty.
Work-force development is the managerial buzz word of the day.

Martha Nussbaum's Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs
the Humanities [ 2012] seems germane. In the short run, high
hopes may be naive, but hopelessness enervates and
discourages exertions for improvement.

The struggle continues.

HFW









On Monday, September 5, 2016 10:03 AM, David Urban <dvu2 at calvin.edu> wrote:





Hmmm . . . a lofty quotation by JFK on the Facebook page of "future presidential hopeful" Cory Booker.

The "poetry" that immediately comes to mind is Frank Sinatra singing  "High Hopes."

(Please note that the above somewhat cynical lines were intended for satirical entertainment purposes only, not intended to disparage any Milton-L participant nor endorse any political candidate, past, present, or future.  We now return to our regularly scheduled non-contemporary politics-based Milton-L programming.)

Peace, peace,

David
________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on behalf of Arlene Stiebel <amstiebel at aol.com>
Sent: Sunday, September 4, 2016 9:07:03 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Poetry

The nation lost more than we could imagine on November 22, 1963.  RIP, JFK.

Sent from my iPhone

> On Sep 4, 2016, at 4:14 PM, Nancy Charlton <charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Apropos of nothing, and not specifically Miltonic, I came upon this quotation from John F Kennedy, shared on Facebook by one future presidential  hopeful, Cory Booker.
>
> "When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses."
>
> JFK
>
> Nancy Charlton
> _______________________________________________
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> Milton-L at richmond.edu
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>
> Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/


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