[Milton-L] Credited Wiki

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Fri Nov 3 17:38:54 EDT 2017

My friends: Mr. Lindall is obviously teasing us all. And remember 'de gustibus.' A friend sent me a note about the students at Indiana University wishing to 'censor' a Grant Wood painting which includes --in a negative light-- some people dressed in KKK robes. The painting in question reflects a moment in Indiana history when the influence of the KKK in state government was exposed and the state was embarassed enough to take action against it. Of course, there are still KKK chapters in Indiana and, for all I know, in every state in the union. But there are also persons who believe in alien abduction and Satanic rituals being performed in Pizza Parlors in Washington D.C. ... or was that child sex slaves?  I remember when Butler University, back I think in the late seventies? decided to circulate and publish student evaluations. I taught a sophomore, non-major course called "The Changing Image of Man" which included a Gilgamesh version, Matthew's Gospel from the N.T., Voltaire's Candide, ... you get the picture. I think the final text was Flaubert's 'Un Cour Simple' (in translation). Well, three or four students reported that all we ever talked about in the course was sex and violence and they hated the course and me. The following semester, and you're not surprised to read it, I know, my enrollment in that class tripled and we had to find a bigger classroom. Proof again that there's no such thing as bad publicity.

I know things are harder now for those of you teaching, what with the notion that to find another's language or dress or physical appearance or politics or religion, ad infinitum must not be judged no matter what extent the person has gone to in order to attract judgement (hello Mr. Lindall) for fear of being accused of insensitivity and cultural oppression.  I remember, for instance, various groups on campus used to announce days when people should wear certain colors to support them and their cause. I'm sure that wouldn't work now because other groups would find ways to mock those trying to appear sympathetic to the group sponsoring the color. If I were teaching Milton or Blake or Hemingway or Faulkner or Homer or Aristophanes or Rabelais or Voltaire or Twain or Hawthorne or Melville or Donne or Dylan Thomas these days I believe I would post the following notice on my door:

Dr. Watt will almost certainly offend students' religious, political, aesthetic, digestive, and emotional beliefs, attitudes, affiliations and affections on a regular basis as the study of literature involves the complete range of human behaviour and thought across a span from the beginnings of literacy around 2100 B.C.E. with the Epic of Gilgamesh to the most recent novels, short stories, poems, plays and film scripts. Inside that relatively narrow space (five or six thousand years) of homo sapiens' existence on the planet (which is currently estimated at around 200,000 years ) just about everything said or done has been 'offensive' to some other members of the species and censorship is as old as obscenity and blasphemy.

Indeed, one man's deeply held beliefs are almost certainly another man's heresy.  if you want to study medicine, you must study disease as well as health --and if you want to study literature you must study curses as well as blessings and evil deeds as well as heroic ones. I cannot, therefore, promise you that what you read will not offend as much as delight you, knowing that what delights one of you is bound to offend another.

Nor can I claim that what I think about what we study will not offend as many as it pleases. It isn't my job to prevent your being offended; it's to encourage you to think for yourself and let those offended by your conclusions find a way to demonstrate the error[s] in your reasoning -- or shut the fuck up.

I loathe those of every stripe pursuing perfection and passionately hope one day they find it choking them to death.

fondly yours, unless you prefer my contempt,

jim watt
From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on behalf of Hannibal Hamlin <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, November 3, 2017 11:46:30 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Credited Wiki

I agree with Louis that the text only confirms the impression that the painting is racist and reflects deep confusion about race in America as well as about Paradise Lost. It may be honest and perhaps even on some level well-intentioned, but it is misguided and disturbing (and not in a good way).


On Fri, Nov 3, 2017 at 1:31 PM, Shoulson, Jeffrey <jeffrey.shoulson at uconn.edu<mailto:jeffrey.shoulson at uconn.edu>> wrote:
It’s truly ghastly.

Jeffrey Shoulson, Ph.D.
Interim Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives
Doris and Simon Konover Chair in Judaic Studies
Professor of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages
University of Connecticut
352 Mansfield Road, Unit 1086
Storrs, CT 06268-1086

(o) 860.486.6115<tel:(860)%20486-6115>
(m) 305.742.6973<tel:(305)%20742-6973>
(f) 860.486.6379<tel:(860)%20486-6379>

On Nov 3, 2017, at 1:22 PM, Margaret Thickstun <mthickst at hamilton.edu<mailto:mthickst at hamilton.edu>> wrote:

We may all have looked, but I would have to agree with Salwa about this portrait. It is appalling.

On Fri, Nov 3, 2017 at 12:53 PM, Salwa <skhoddam at cox.net<mailto:skhoddam at cox.net>> wrote:

Dear All,

Maybe I’m too sensitive, or maybe I misinterpreted it, but I’m insulted by Terrance Lindall’s Milton Portrait.

I do wish that such postings do not find their way into our Milton Discussion List. I do appreciate it though that the Wiki source was credited.


Salwa Khoddam, PhD.

Professor of English, Emerita

Oklahoma City University

From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu>] On Behalf Of Terrance Lindall
Sent: Friday, November 3, 2017 11:37 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Subject: [Milton-L] Credited Wiki

Dear Guys:

I credited the Wiki source on my Wordpress site and WIX Site. Thanks for pointing out my sloppiness. At the glorious age of 73 one gets a bit lazy.

I used to be a good scholar, original research, solid reasoning and meticulous crediting. Strong suit was logic. My Milton professor said in praise on my final exam that I still have in my archives,  "Milton would have reasoned thus!" Graduated Magna Cum Laude with double majors and a double minor.

I see Wordpress got over 90 views on that one day. Thanks for looking.

Have you seen my latest Milton Portrait:


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