International Milton Symposium - IMS12

17-21 June 2019, Palais Universitaire, Strasbourg

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Friday 21 June 2019

08h30-09h45: Panel sessions 10

(10a) Paradise Regained III - Chair: David Ainsworth (subjet to change) (Room 112)

Brendan Prawdzik (Assistant Teaching Professor of English, The Pennyslvania State University, USA): “The Biosemiotics of Milton’s Paradise Regained

In Matter of Revolution, John Rogers aligned Milton with a “vitalist moment” when authors identified apocalyptic agency with the living force of plants. Other authors, including Karen Edwards, Joanna Picciotto, and myself, have discovered profound meaning in the botany of Milton’s Garden.

This paper considers a different type of material systemic profess that breaks from the linear temporality exemplified by Raphael’s self-sublimating flower, which represents the “track of time” of human improvement. William Harvey’s discovery of blood circulation, Robert Hooke’s illustrations of “minute bodies” in Micrographia (1665), and Antony Leeuwenhoek’s discovery and description of bacteria (“animalcules”) in the late 1660s contribute to an emerging discourse of microbiology and biological systems—including those of reproduction and disease.

This paper situates John Milton’s Paradise Regained (1671) within this context. In several works, most notably Areopagitica (1643), Milton describes books and literary authority in ways that implicate the body and its reproductive fluid. As Milton’s view of Christian history changed to one of skepticism and resignation, it also depended upon deferral and possible rebirth. The paper argues that Paradise Regained rewrites the book and literary authority as, if not viral, then as a self-sustaining system dislodged from linear temporality and from Apocalyptic and progressivist accounts of history. Paradise Regained does so through language of repetition and circularity reinforced by the poem’s emphasis on rebirth and renewal.

Luiz Fernando Ferreira Sà (Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil): “The Lists of Paradise Regained: An Economy of the Full and the Empty”

This article works from Madeleine Jeay’s Le Commerce des Mots (2006), Umberto Eco’s Infinity of Lists (2009), and Bernard Sève’s Philosophie des Listes (2010) to understand the abundance of lists in John Milton’s Paradise Regained. This project begins with the presupposition that lists matter for culture, for art, for philosophy, for literature, and for signification or “mundanization” in general. Lists point towards that which is not present, that which is inarticulate, and that which cannot be expressed or understood in plain descriptive or narrative terms. Lists formed and informed the hybrid Renaissance culture that Milton inherited and put to use in his major epic poems because they were called to act as artistic devices describing experiences that extended beyond the limits of human language, such as the Fall, the tempter, the redeemer or the regaining of paradise. The desire or the necessity to collect pieces of the world, fragments of moments, accompanied by the attempt to make an im-possible narrative of events, is a mission that has been assigned to literature in general and a mission to which Milton returns with a renewed impetus in the short epic. The lists in Paradise Regained emerge from the following conditions: the fantasy of chaos remaining an unfulfilled horizon, the complicated coherence among things escaping the worst disorder, and the tortuous cohesive power of analogy barely unifying a worldview by holding the chaos of reality at bay. In sum, the lists in the short epic would mark, as a manifestation, the trace, like the shadow, of the intractable fallen world within the very act of worldliness (much like the creation of an alternative Christian ethos and referred to before as “mundanization”), always leaving a space of nothingness necessarily paradoxical and in some ways astonishingly so. The lists, thus, in their expansions and at their widest levels, always resonate with a power that accentuates the trace or the language of that which was/is irretrievably lost, henceforth always foreign and forever undecidable, like an otherworldly song sung on a field of steles.

(10b) Satan and Mimetic Desire in Paradise Lost - Chair: Bjoern Quiring (Room 113)

Ethan Guagliardo (Assistant Professor of Western Languages and Literatures, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey): “The Majesty of Darkness: Mimetic Desire and Political Affect in Paradise Lost

Ovid’s Fasti describes the birth of the goddess Maiestas as heralding a transition from equality to hierarchy. Before none sought precedence, but after she ascends Olympus in regal splendor, “every god” began “modeling his countenance on hers,” and by the magic of mimetic desire, “respect for dignity immediately made its way into their minds.” The story, apparently Ovid’s invention, reflects the transition from a republican notion of majesty—the maiestas populi Romani—to a monarchical one, where majesty adheres to the physical body and countenance of Augustus. This latter notion continued into early modernity, where “majesty” often invoked the sensible and numinous experience of kingly authority (OED, “majesty,” 4a). We encounter various dimensions of majesty’s affective and sensible qualities throughout Paradise Lost, from Satan “majestic though in ruin” (2.305) to Adam and Eve’s “naked majesty” (4.290). This paper examines how Milton redefines majesty in anti-royalist terms by focusing particularly on “the majesty of darkness” (2.266), a feature of Milton’s God often treated by critics in terms of His sublimity and ineffability but which Mammon raises in the Ovidian context of imitation, conjecturing that just as God imitated demonic darkness, so the devils can imitate God’s light—as indeed Satan, “idol of majesty divine” (6.101), already had.

Ágnes Bató (PhD Student, University of Szeged, Hungary): “Satanic L/Imitations”

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Phil 2:6)

Being or not being the image of God is an ontological given in Paradise Lost, but also the root of conflict, rebellion and fall. In my research I explore different interpretations of imitating God. The background of my study is René Girard’s theory of mimetic desire (1961), and I claim that the origin of desire is imitation, both desire and imitation aimed at becoming like God. Milton’s Satan epitomizes the mimetic cycle described by Girard; and I go on to assert that even though the satanic imitation successfully empowers the archangel to be the antagonist of God, at the same time it delimits him and reduces him into a subject miming his model. Evil, thus, has mimetic origins. The epic, I suggest, in this way describes the meaning-making process that originates from the primary ontological fact that defines human existence, being the image of God. While this is a given to man, the archangel also intends to make sense of his own existence on the basis of this condition. The temptation, in effect, is his attempt to reinterpret imitation and reinforce the satanic type of mimetic behavior.

(10c) Reception of Milton in the 19th Century - Chair: Martin Dzelzainis (Room 118)

Hugh Adlington (Dr., Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham, G.-B.): “Milton for the People? Radical, Liberal, and Nonconformist Readers, 1800-1900”

This paper examines fresh evidence of Milton’s reception in nineteenth-century Britain. Previous studies have focused on Victorian attitudes to Milton’s politics (Nelson, 1963) and his influence on the literature of the period (Nardo, 2003; Gray, 2009), but little has been said of the engagements of a wider range of Victorian readers with Milton’s prose and poetry. Partly this is because of the scattered nature of the evidence. Archival sources, including printed and manuscript autobiographical texts, letters, and inventories and records from public, circulating and working-class libraries, as well as Sunday schools and working men’s and women’s clubs, can be hard to access and search. Educational and publishing contexts are easier to reconstruct, but yield only general impressions of a society’s engagement with Milton. What is needed is a combined approach, bringing together institutional records and the individual testimonies of both elite and non-elite Victorian readers.

To that end, this paper focuses on two sources of evidence of the profound appeal Milton held for Liberal and nonconformist readers in Victorian Britain’s industrial cities. The first is an unpublished 60 pp. manuscript ‘Life of Milton’, written in 1864 by Joseph Chamberlain, then making his name as the Radical, Unitarian ‘Screw King’ of British manufacturing, and later to achieve high political office as Secretary of State for the Colonies (1895-1903). What role did Milton play in shaping the character and views of a man who went from being a republican, Little Englander in his youth, to the most prominent imperialist of his time in his maturity? The second source of evidence is the founding of the Milton Collection at the Library of Birmingham in 1882. The core of the collection is about 160 volumes of editions of Milton’s works and Miltonian commentary and criticism, given by Frank Wright (1853-1922), a Liberal politician, Baptist, and partner in the firm of Smith & Wright, makers of buttons and tin-plate. Wright donated the books in the hope that they might be made ‘the nucleus of a Milton Collection worthy of his name and that of our town’, and in its scale, richness of holdings, and compelling connection to Birmingham’s civic history, the Library of Birmingham’s Milton Collection is a hidden treasure – the largest dedicated Milton Collection outside of the United States by some margin. What can we learn from the records of its foundation, and from the books themselves, about late-nineteenth-century readership of Milton?

This paper builds on my earlier research on the reading of Milton by eighteenth-century classicists such as Richard Hurd (1720-1808), bishop of Worcester (presented at IMS 10 in Tokyo in 2012) and botanist and scholar Benjamin Stillingfleet (1702–1771) (presented at IMS 11 in Exeter in 2015).

Laura Gill (Dr., School Tutor, University of Sussex, G.-B.): “The Victorian Milton and a Case of Anthropodermic Bibliopegy”

In 1830, a man named George Cudmore was executed for poisoning his wife; he was hung and dissected. Supposedly, Exeter bookseller W. Clifford later acquired his skin, tanned it, and used it to bind an 1852 edition of Milton’s Poetical Works. This paper examines Milton’s reception in the mid-nineteenth century through this strange edition of Milton’s poetry, and asks how such a gruesome binding of Milton’s text might prompt useful questions about Victorian and contemporary readings of Milton: what interpretative possibilities does this object present us with? What does this case of anthropodermic bibliopegy suggest about Victorian attitudes to Milton? How does this material intervention complicate ideas of authorship and ownership? How far does George Cudmore’s name come to overwrite John Milton’s, in our engagement with this object? In answering these questions, I propose an alternative way of reading the nineteenth-century reception of Paradise Lost, not as a text which manifests Milton’s overbearing poetic presence, as Harold Bloom famously argued, but as involving a materiality in which the act of creation is disturbed and diversified.

(10d) Prolusions - Chair: Robert Dulgarian (Room 119)

Benjamin Card (PhD Student, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA): “Milton and Suárez: Ironies and Indebtedness”

What can we make of Milton's anonymous citation of Francisco Suárez, the Doctor Eximus of the Society of Jesus, in his "Prolusion IV," first delivered orally as a university exercise at Cambridge and later published in his 1674 Epistolarum Familiarium? This paper argues that the young Milton's citation of Jesuit theology typifies the early modern university practice of scholastic disputation, where Protestant tutors such as the later Thomas Barlow assigned arch-Catholics because "the best Arguments, & Discourses of many parts of Logick... are in Suarez, & others."

But more centrally, this paper positions Milton's encounter with Suárez as an intellectually profitable one. Amid a lifetime of Catholic confrontation, Milton's citation of Suárez represents a rare moment of unironic engagement with a Catholic text. This paper seeks to draw two interventions from this. Just as the Spanish scholastics offer a source for Milton's Arminianism that has so far been underexplored by scholars of Milton's freedom such as Warren Chernaik and Benjamin Myers—though Suárez has been suggested by John Rogers — so does his scholastic training at Cambridge take on a more Catholic character than has previously been recognized. Recasting the famously polemical and disputatious Milton as fluent in a traditionally Catholic mode, this paper argues for a Milton more conceptually indebted to Catholic and Jesuit practice than allowed even in the cutting-edge work in Corthell and Corns' Milton and Catholicism.

Robert Dulgarian (Professor, Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA): “Reconsidering Milton’s Philosophical Exercises: new contexts for Milton’s Prolusions 4 and 5

In a 1962 dissertation, Thomas R. Hartmann identifies a number of passages of Milton’s Fourth Prolusion ‘In collegio: In rei cujuslibet interitu non datur resolutio ad materiam primam’ as quotations or close paraphrases of the 16th century Jesuit scholastic Francisco Suárez’s Disputationes metaphysicæ xiv.sec.3.§§22-25 and §§38-39. Hartmann’s textual and logical analysis of Milton’s use of Suárez in Prolusion 4 and Chrystostomus Javellus in Prolusion 5 almost wholly ignores the relation of the printed ‘prolusiones’ to their Cambridge academic context. By considering a range of manuscript and printed sources bearing upon the use of Suárez as a source for Cambridge disputations, general patterns of book-buying and text assignment, the relation of the respondent’s oration to the disputation that followed it, and the recent identification of the disputation topic to which a version of ‘Natura non pati senium’ was attached as an Act Verse, this paper will argue that Milton’s relation to the scholastic curriculum at Cambridge is by no means inimical or atypical for the 1630s; furthermore, Milton’s debt to scholastic philosophy and to Suárez in particular seems to have extended well beyond the Cambridge exercises and may be seen as informing the implied metaphysics of Paradise Lost.

(10e) Milton and Bucer - Catherine G. Martin (Room 124) (CANCELLED)

Thomas Fulton (Associate Professor of English, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA): “Biblical Interpretation and English Politics in Tyndale, Bucer, and Milton”

Milton is credited by the Oxford English Dictionary with the first use of “literalism” and the second use of “literalist,” and in both cases the term is used to call down the reading practices of his Presbyterian political opponents. In doing so, I argue, Milton consciously identifies a culturally dominant interpretive habit that stems from Protestant origins, as in Tyndale’s sweeping claim that “there is but one sense, which is the literal sense.” Milton's rejection of literalism occurs in 1643-44, during a crucial shift in his career in which he broke from the very Presbyterian parliament he supported in the first phases of the civil wars. In the anti-prelatical polemic in 1641-42, Milton adopted puritanical language that aspired to maintain the Reformation in its original form, using the extreme forms of sola scriptura practiced by such reformers as Tyndale and Bucer. Yet through the course of the commonwealth period, Milton underwent a series of radical shifts against Reformation biblicism. In this paper, I will explore how Milton uses Erasmus’s annotations and interpretive methods, seemingly drawn from his work on De Doctrina Christiana, to counter the strict Protestant readings of key biblical passages supporting divine right and theocratic forms of statehood.

Annie Noblesse-Rocher (Professeur, Université de Strasbourg, France): « Milton lecteur de Bucer, à propos du divorce » (English paper)


(10f) Problems in Adapting Paradise Lost - Chair: Yuko Noro (Room 120)

Larisa Kocic-Zámbó (Senior Assistant Professor, University of Szeged, Hungary): “‘That Complication of Horrors’: The Genesis of Sin and Death and the Genre of Horror” (BBC radio) - CANCELLED

The title of my paper borrows from Voltaire’s scathing remark on the farfetched loathsomeness of Milton’s allegorical genesis of Sin and Death that is “distasteful without any purpose; … the filthy abomination of the thing certainly more obvious than the allegory.” Apart from few of his 18th-century readers and editors, critics and readers alike seem to share Voltaire distaste of the incestuous communication of Sin and Death, made especially obvious by the latest BBC radio dramatization of the poem by Michael Symmons Roberts. I wish to explore this particular reader-response (reaction) in the light of Noel Carroll’s work on the genre of horror which, he claims, incorporates (sans a narrative voice) the “appropriate way to respond to horror.” In reading Sin and Death as the monstrous characters of Paradise Lost – a category within horror genre very similar to these specific allegorical characters – I will rely on Mary Douglas study Purity and Danger correlating reactions of impurity with violations of schemes of cultural categorization. I also wish to highlight the minimal interpolation of the epic narrator, arguing it as a complementary aspect of Sin’s genesis narrative and its contribution to the epic’s primary narrative aim.

Ross T. Leasure (Professor, Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, USA): “West(world) of Eden: Adam & Eve and Teddy & Dolores” (HBO)

The publication of Frankenstein initiated the ineluctable link between Paradise Lost and that subsection of science fiction treating the creation of artificially intelligent life; subsequent scholarship has examined the relationship between Milton’s theodicy and both literary and cinematic pieces about robots or androids. The latest example of such a work is the HBO reboot series of Michael Crichton’s film, Westworld. At the heart of each are questions about the implications of deducing life from lifelessness, such as what obligations the creator has to his creatures, what it means to be created in the image of one’s creator, how memory informs identity, how suffering is in some way constitutive of sentience, what defines fundamental personhood, and so on. A scholarly analysis of the new series, in the context of other important antecedents, as it makes use of and/or otherwise modifies aspects of Paradise Lost, serves to unlock new ways of understanding how Westworld’s so-called hosts, especially Teddy and Dolores, are 21st-century re-instantiations of Milton’s Adam and Eve.

Gábor Ittzés (Associate Professor, Debrecen Reformed Theological University, Hungary): “Epic Chronology in Paradise Lost as an Essentially Contested Concept”

The question of epic chronology was raised by the earliest critics of Paradise Lost. Since their protestations that it was an impossible exercise to reconstruct one (which did not keep them from offering several proposals) to the reticence of the nineteenth century to tackle the issue to the renewed interest of the twentieth century which turned the question into a major critical locus but failed to achieve consensus to a reiterated call at the beginning of the new millennium, drawing explicitly on eighteenth-century arguments, to abandon the idea of a uniform single timeline of epic action altogether, critical tradition seems to have come full circle. What I propose in this paper is not so much an attempt to adjudicate between rival propositions or to clarify specific chronological cruces, although such moves also have their legitimacy, but to acknowledge the two-sidedness of the issue and reinterpret the critical tradition’s simultaneous preoccupation with and inability to fully resolve the problem of epic chronology. I suggest that this duality is best interpreted with the help of the term ‘essentially contested concept’, originally developed by W.B. Gallie. I argue that epic chronology in Paradise Lost indeed meets the criteria that place it in this category and then briefly consider what future critical discussion can gain from this recognition.

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09h45-10h15: Coffee break

10h15-12h00: Plenary session V by Stephen B. Dobranski (Distinguished University Professor, Georgia State University, Georgia, USA): "What Do Adam and Eve Look Like after the Fall, and Why Does It Matter?", and John Rogers (Professor of English, Yale, USA): "“Die he, or justice must?”: Paradise Lost and the Political Theology of Toleration" - Chair: Stephen M. Fallon (Room 119)

13h00-17h00: Gala lunch at Pavillon Joséphine, parc de l'Orangerie

17h00: Closing Speech

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Updated: 14 June 2019


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