Book Discussion – Milton’s "Paradise Lost": A Three-Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi
What makes Milton’s Paradise Lost one of the most revered and celebrated works in Western literature? How does it draw on its mighty predecessors in the epic tradition—Dante’s Divine Comedy, Virgil’s Aeneid, Homer’s Iliad, and Odyssey, among others—and yet create new and original forms of its own? And what makes the themes and issues of this English Renaissance poem vitally relevant to our world today and the issues that we face in our contemporary lives?
Written when Milton was in his fifties - blind, bitterly disappointed by the Restoration and in danger of execution - Paradise Lost's apparent ambivalence towards authority has led to intense debate about whether it manages to 'justify the ways of God to men', or exposes the cruelty of Christianity.
In this three-part course, led by award-winner author and professor Joseph Luzzi, we will explore the intellectual and literary riches of Milton’s great work “tick” as together we consider what gives the poem its remarkable inventiveness and relevance to our world today.
We invite you to explore the lecture outlines below for additional details. And to experience additional seminars and courses being led by Dr. Luzzi, please click here.
Lecture One: The War in Heaven Our first session will introduce us to the major issues and concerns of Milton’s epic poem, especially the rebellion of God’s one-time favorite Lucifer (Satan) and his relation to Adam and Eve, as we focus on Paradise Lost, Books 1–4. Lecture Two: Questions of Creation Our second session will take us through the ongoing dramatic struggles between the fallen angels and their heavenly counterparts, paying special attention to the sections describing God’s creation of the world, as we focus on Paradise Lost, Books 5–8.
Lecture Three: On Human Disobedience Our third and final session will explore the issues and consequences related to Adam and Eve’s transgression of God’s will and its effects on the aftermath of humankind, as we focus on Aeneid, Books 9–12.
Joseph Luzzi received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, where he has taught since 2002 after being a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education, he is the author of 5 books, including My Two Italies, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection. His work has been translated into multiple languages and his many awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. In 2017 he was named Cittadino Onorario/Honorary Citizen in Acri, Calabria, his Italian parents’ birthplace. His next book is Botticelli’s Secret: The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance, which will be published by W. W. Norton. Professor Luzzi is the founder of the Virtual Book Club, an online community of readers dedicated to exploring some of the best books ever written. Learn more at JosephLuzzi.com.
How does it work?
This is a three-part course held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.
When will I receive the Zoom link?
Your link to enter the Zoom room will be the same for all three sessions. It will be sent to the email address used to place your order 30 minutes prior to each lecture's start time.
Is there a reading list in advance?
Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. Professor Luzzi recommends this edition of the book: Milton, Paradise Lost (Penguin, 2003)
How long are the lectures?
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.
How much is the course?
The course is $105 USD for three lectures.
Is a recording available?
Yes. All registered participants will be sent a recording link within 48 hours of each session's conclusion.