[Milton-L] Appropriation of Areopagitica

Kevin Donovan Kevin.Donovan at mtsu.edu
Thu Aug 2 13:01:17 EDT 2018

Members of this list may be interested to know that the current furore over proposals to allow 3D printing of firearms in the U.S. surprisingly intersects with Milton studies. David Harper's essay "The Scanning of Error" in the collection Milton, Materialism, and Embodiment (Duquesne UP, 2017) examines the "political appropriation" of Areopagitica in a manifesto by the gun activist Cody Wilson, who cited Milton's tract in defense of his disseminating free designs for a fully functional, print-at-home gun.  Areopagitica's argument against the law passed in 1644 requiring that books be licensed before publication apparently was deemed by Wilson to provide an intellectual precedent and justification-or, as Wilson called it, a "spiritual analogue"-for his project of facilitating "the endless, unregulated production of guns." Harper demonstrates various ways in which Milton's protest against a particular kind of regulation of printed books is ill suited to a defense of unregulated "printing" of firearms.

Here's a link to a description of Milton, Materialism, and Embodiment at Penn State UP's website:

Kevin J. Donovan
Professor and Graduate Program Director
English Department, Peck Hall 316
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 70
Murfreesboro TN 37132
Ph: 615-898-2665

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