Milton's Modernities (MLA 2014)

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Milton Society of America
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The term "early modern" implies that writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries should have a place in our thought on the nature of modernity. This panel will explore that implication with a focus on John Milton, who has been described in recent criticism as delirious in his vacillation between modern authorship and pre-modern shamanism (G. Teskey), as having under-explored post-modern affinities for poetic ambiguity (J. Wittreich), as critiquing the bourgeois aesthetic ideology gaining traction in the late seventeenth century (V. Kahn), as illumining post-secularity in his negotiations of reason and belief (F. Mohamed), as resisting religious ceremonialism at the historical moment of God leaving the world (R. Schwartz), and as presciently scorning late modernity's ever-increasing urge toward image-making (D. Hawkes).

Especially desirable are abstracts engaging the ways in which reading Milton invites us to expand our definition of modernity beyond narrowly conceived materialist and secularist formulations. Authors may take as their focus Milton's immediate historical context or pertinent moments of his later influence. They may wish to explore, but are not limited to, Milton's relationship to the following: the epistemological functions of reason, belief, and imagination; the theological turn in current philosophy; the nature of language and literary authorship; and definitions of political liberty that supplement and critique Enlightenment liberalism.

Please send 500-word abstracts or eight-page papers to Ken Hiltner ( and Feisal Mohamed ( by March 15, 2013.