ENGL 3583 Milton

Instructor Contact:

Dr. Rachael Deagman

E-mail: deagman@colorado.edu

The best way to reach me is by email. You should expect a response within a few hours, unless you contact me after 8pm, in which case you’ll receive a response first thing in the morning.

Instructor Bio:

I hold a Ph.D. in English Literature from Duke University, an M.A. in English from CUBoulder, and a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia. I was a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Wake Forest University for three years prior to coming to CU-Boulder. My interdisciplinary research focuses on literature and architectural history across genres: prose, poetry and drama.

About the Course:

In this course we will read the prose and poetry of John Milton: one of the most intellectually gifted thinkers and technically resourceful writers in the English language. We begin with Milton’s early poetry to gain insight into his familial relationships, early friendships, and the centrality of vocation to his life. His greatness as a young poet becomes evident when he writes “Lycidas” – a poem Tennyson describes as a touchstone of poetic taste. We encounter a more mature Milton in his prose: writing that situates him within a complex, and at times hostile, political and religious environment in seventeenth-century England. We bring to bear all of these resources to study Milton’s attempt to “justify the ways of God to man” in his epic poem Paradise Lost; his retelling of the Fall of Man stands as one of the greatest literary achievements in the English language. We complete the term with Samson Agonistes: Milton’s late dramatic poem.


  • Students who read closely and carefully and who actively participate in the work of the course will have the ability to do the following by the end of term:
  • Explain the social and historical contexts of seventeenth-century England
  • Identify Milton’s position in a turbulent political climate including his opposition to monarchy and support for representative government
  • Discuss Milton’s unorthodox theology with an understanding of the complexities of sin, free will, and salvation
  • Describe the formal aspects of Milton’s poetry such as the elegy and epic
  • Recognize Milton’s use of poetic devices such as elision and caesura
  • Analyze complex poetry with close attention to language
  • Write clear, concise, analytical prose

Required Text:

Kerrigan, William, John Rumrich and Stephen M. Fallon, eds. The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton. New York: The Modern Library, 2007. Print.

Please do not substitute with other editions of Milton’s work. The reading assignments for this class will not make sense to you if you’re working from another edition. You may purchase this text at the CU Bookstore, order the book from an online bookseller, or check to see if the library has a copy.


Each week, you will have three tasks to complete:

  1. A reading assignment
  2. View a lecture
  3. A discussion and follow-up post.

In addition, you will write a midterm and final essay. You will receive detailed instructions for how to complete each assignment.


Your final grade for this course will reflect the quality of reading and writing you produce; it also depends on the quality of your participation in the work of the course. Thus, your thoughtful responses to the texts, your active participation in discussion posts, and your overall level of effort will greatly contribute to your final grade.

The percentage breakdown is as follows:

  • Syllabus Quiz: 5%
  • Discussion Posts: 40%
  • Midterm Essay: 20%
  • Final Essay: 35%

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search Buff Portal and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.


Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado