Reading Paradise Lost

King's College London

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Reading Paradise Lost

  • Host University

    King's College London

  • Location

    London, England

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • UK Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    This module offers students a unique opportunity to spend a whole semester reading one single poem, albeit a very large one: John Milton?s Paradise Lost (1674). One of the greatest works of English literature, this epic consists of twelve books, most of which we will devote a whole week to reading and talking about. Taking in a range of issues including love, marriage, religion, politics, education, freedom of speech, and the rights of rulers and citizens within a free commonwealth, we will see why Milton still has so much to say to us. Where other modules have introduced students to single books of the poem, we will ask what the experience of immersing ourselves in the whole can teach us as readers. What does it mean to read a whole work in such detail? And how does attending to Milton in this way affect our sense of his place in the literary canon? As one critic recently asked, ?Is Milton better than Shakespeare?? These are all questions we will debate in two-hour weekly seminars.
    We will draw upon a range of criticism of the poem, considering the changing ways in which Milton has been read over time. As such, the course will provide an overview of literary criticism itself, through the lens of this single poem. Seeing how critics have treated Paradise Lost from the time of its composition to our own historical moment will allow us to gain new understanding of the poem and of our role as readers. Because reading and writing are considered inextricable from one another in the Early Modern period, we will use exercises in literary imitation in order to read Milton more closely by trying to write like him. These short tasks, which will be assigned on a weekly basis, are designed as a way of making Milton more approachable, and will be designed to be as simple as possible. By the end of the course you will know Paradise Lost from the inside out.
    Preparatory reading:
    We will be using Alastair Fowler?s edition of Paradise Lost for the Longman Annotated Poets series. This is the only book you will require for this course.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.