Milton is probably the most misunderstood, and consequently the most underrated, poet in English literature. Readers — at every level of sophistication — tend to treat his texts as versified sermons, erroneously assuming that his works demand the kind of pious, Sunday School responses they are in fact designed to subvert. The Milton I know writes dazzlingly self-aware interrogations of our conventional notions and responses presented in richly textured, sensuously diverting language. In this course, I hope to show you just how beautiful, wonderful, and strange Milton really is. Although we will give some brief attention to the historical contexts, literary backgrounds, and religious and philosophical controversies of the period, our primary emphasis will be on the delicate, cautious work of reading Milton’s texts — reading them sensitively, with an eye and ear for nuance and complexity.