Spring 2014

Spenser and Milton:  Poetry Inventing a Nation

Listed in: English, as ENGL-445


Peter Berek (Section 01)


Adapting legends of King Arthur, and with inventiveness that in our own time might have turned to science fiction, Edmund Spenser creates the first English epic poem. The Fairy Queen (1590) engages romantic love, gender roles, religious controversy, and Elizabethan politics. Modeling himself on classical predecessors, Spenser through his career shapes the idea of a national poet. John Milton, possessed by Jerusalem, Greece, and Rome and committed to the English revolution, follows Spenser in creating himself as bard of a redeemed nation in the greatest of English long poems, Paradise Lost (1667). Canonized yet occasionally reviled, both poets are the subject of critical controversies raising questions about the nature of poetry and its relationship to its own time and ours.

Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Berek.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to junior and senior majors.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014