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Reading Paradise Lost: An Introduction

April 23, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Milton’s Paradise Lost is one of the few epic poems in English that people still read, or anyway try to. Those who’ve tried know that it’s a challenging poem. To begin with, the syntax, or sentence structure, is difficult, influenced as it was by Latin epic poetry, in particular Virgil’s Aeneid; by classical oration in Latin & Greek; and by the high style of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. The result is a style of uncommon elegance and uncommon difficulty. And it’s not only the syntax that challenges us. Milton read just about all of the important secular and religious literature of his age and deployed allusions to this literature in complex patterns that heighten the style of his poem and immeasurably enrich its meaning—if you get the point of the allusions, that is. If you don’t, you’re lost in the bush, dear struggling reader! What Milton intended as a technique for enriching meaning has become, for you, a stumbling block.
In this class we’ll read parts of Milton’s poem together, aloud, so that we hear its rhythms and get the feel of how his syntax and patterns of allusions work in context to enrich style and meaning. Our experience in the classroom with Paradise Lost, and with poetry in general, convinces us that many of the problems that readers encounter when they try to read by themselves, usually silently, disappear when the text is read aloud by someone who “gets” it and can convey what he or she “gets” by reading it aloud—actually dramatizing it.
We’ll distribute annotated passages of Paradise Lost a couple of weeks before the class, and we’ll ask you to read what you can on your own. But keep in mind what we say about reading the poem aloud in the class itself: that we’ll be using the class as a workshop in learning how to read Paradise Lost. We’ll be in it together.

Lecturer: Dr. Terrence Riddell, Associate Professor of English, Quincy University Dr. Joe Messina, Emeritus Professor of English, Quincy University

POLIS is an opportunity for lifelong learning for seniors, 55+ years. There are two semesters each year requiring a membership fee of $15 per semester. Choose from 15 or more classes each semester. Classes are $4 each. Classes are casual in lecture format with no tests, plus cookies and coffee at break. Cancellations do occur due to inclement weather. Call the office at 217-228-5594 to hear cancellation messages. Attend a one time only class for free to see if POLIS is for you. Walk in. Sit down and enjoy.

For more information:
Call 217-228-5594
Email: polis@quincy.edu
Online: www.quincy.edu/academic/polis


April 23, 2019
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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