[Milton-L] Leaving the Milton listserv

Jameela Lares Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
Sat Nov 4 17:29:38 EDT 2017

Thanks to Ryan, Katie, and Brandon for their comments.  One issue that might be noticed is that all of the productive Milton scholars on this list are overworked, especially if they are working for public universities with shrinking funds.  I estimate that my service duties have doubled since I started at USM 22 years ago.  Every new administrator must prove his/her worth but giving the professors in the trenches more to do. There is thus less time in general to post here on Milton-L, though I recognize that a number of wonderful scholars have done so in recent weeks and months, and I thank them.

I actually joined the Milton-L when one of my student complained that it was going downhill.  That was over 20 years ago.  The list has its ups and downs.


Jameela Lares
Professor of English
Charles W. Moorman Distinguished Professor, 2017-2019
The University of Southern Mississippi
108 College Drive #5037
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001

From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Brandon Taylor
Sent: Saturday, November 4, 2017 4:02 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at richmond.edu>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Leaving the Milton listserv

Hello, everyone. I have yet to reply to this list for any number of reasons, but I feel compelled to do so now. I am a PhD student in Milton Studies and I have been following this list for some time. I must say regrettably that I am firmly in agreement with Ryan Paul that the openness of this list is incredibly useful but it should also be managed carefully, at least with respect to explicit trolling, self-aggrandizement, or content that could easily be deemed as inflammatory.

All of these boxes have been firmly checked by the Terrance Lindall and I believe some measures should be taken to exclude said person from the email list to the benefit of the greater Milton community. When it comes to the argument of free speech, particularly in the case of belligerence, I am reminded of this quotation from Milton's Areopagitica: "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties." We must pay particular attention to Milton's qualification: according to conscience. Given the relative silence on this list, and the very well articulated points brought forward by Ryan Paul, I think the collective conscience of this group knows what measures must be taken, but we must find the courage to do so.

When I read the wonderful and engaging contributions of John Leonard or Richard Strier, I see very clearly the potential for this list. We should strive to do better.

With that in mind, I am not leaving this list. However, I am firmly and resolutely recommending that we no longer allow Terrance Lindall to circulate messages on this platform.

I am hoping that others agree and, if so, they will speak up.

Brandon Taylor

On Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 4:21 PM, Carol Barton, PhD, CPCM <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net<mailto:cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>> wrote:
I, for one, am sorry to see you both go—and I’m sorry for the quasi-“tolerance” among some members of the present-day Milton list that condones, even abets, this sort of thing.

One of the most endearing accomplishments of the Milton list, and indeed, the Miltonic community, until recent years was its civility, its genial embrace of *all* members (not just those with hefty OUP or CUP publications under their arms), and its abiding decency. I remember taking Tom Kranidas to his first Murfreesboro conference. He was astonished to be unable to tell the accomplished scholars from the newcomers by the way they engaged with or treated one another . . .  and when the likes of Kris and Charley and JTS and Stella Revard and ALabriola and Derek Wood and Bill Hunter and Balanchandra Rajan and the others of their generation (forgive me, any old friends whose names I’ve missed) were the constellations, every thread was a “must read.”

That isn’t the case, in recent years, and it’s sad.

I wish you both all the best, Katie and Ryan, and I’m sorry that I can’t say something more encouraging to convince you to stay. To do so would be hypocritical. I feel marginalized myself.

Best to all,

Carol Barton

On Nov 4, 2017, at 4:08 PM, Katie Calloway <Katie_Calloway at baylor.edu<mailto:Katie_Calloway at baylor.edu>> wrote:

Hello, list,

While I’ve enjoyed listening in on the discussions down the years, I will be following Ryan Paul off the listserv in solidarity.  (I realize this is not great loss as I’ve contributed maybe twice!)


Katie Calloway

Katherine Calloway
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English
Baylor University
One Bear Place #97404
Waco, TX  76798-7404
(254) 710-6883<tel:(254)%20710-6883>
Katie_Calloway at baylor.edu<mailto:Katie_Calloway at baylor.edu>

On Nov 4, 2017, at 2:43 PM, Ryan Paul <ryanspaul at gmail.com<mailto:ryanspaul at gmail.com>> wrote:

Dear All,

This is a note to say that I am leaving the Milton listerv.

I'm not a Miltonist per se, and I don't contribute often to the discussion, so my departure from the list probably won't mean much to many of you. But I think I at least have to make a small statement about why I'm leaving.
This list could be a lively, fascinating, and educational venue for us to share ideas. It is full of brilliant scholars with great minds. But, it has been hijacked by a troll spouting thinly veiled white supremacist rhetoric and self-promoting his two-bit, hack "artwork."
I appreciate the devotion to a Miltonic belief in the free exchange of controversial ideas that many of you have espoused. It is admirable, particularly in these days of acrimonious division. But I think your faith in our troll's better nature is misplaced.

Perhaps if you haven't spent much time in the dark underbelly of the internet, you don't recognize trolling for what it is. It is fairly clear, to me at least, that Terrance Lindall has no abiding interest in Milton, Milton studies, or in promoting collegial intellectual discourse. His only interests are self-promotion and spreading hatred; maybe there's a third rail there too: the sick pleasure trolls get from pushing people's buttons and making the marginalized feel even more so.
It seems that at least 50% of the emails I get from this list are about Lindall and his nonsense: whether to ban him, whether he's racist, whether or not Milton would approve. This does nothing to improve my understanding of Milton or 17th century poetry or any other related subject. All it does is fill my inbox with more free advertising for a quasi-fascist of very, very minor talents.

I know no one wants to play the role of Empson's God and moderate this listserv, but chaos and racist nonsense is not conducive to the pursuit of truth. As a Renaissance scholar and a person of color, I expected and hoped for much better from an academic community. I hope that this community will organize itself, bounce the alt right trolling with a permanent ban, and turn its attention to important, meaningful matters related to Milton. Until then, I'm out.

Peace and love to all of you,
And may Terrance Lindall one day be cured of the hatred that motivates him.

Ryan Paul
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