So I found this Conference in Tokyo talking about East-West, cross-cultural ties in literature and art looking for papers due last week. Sooo... I sent in an abstract. Professor Burton and lots of family and friends helped a ton with the polishing, but here's the final product:
An oriental reading of Paradise Lost and other writings resolves certain longstanding paradoxes in Milton's great works and reorients readers to his initial and intended meaning. Such paradoxes have come about due to gradual changes in our own culture resulting in an ultimate disconnect from the original culture and paradigm of Milton's time and place. A specific cross-culture norm that existed in both the Far East and in the West at the time Milton was writing was a value placed on what Western culture now condemns and terms the "passive." After WWII, our culture shifted out of this value system while China remained the same, making our reading of Paradise Lost and other Miltonic works imperfect and biased.
By valuing the passive in the same way as Eastern culture while reading Milton's great works, we not only eliminate some of the false assumptions on which the West's Anglocentric view has founded arguments about Milton's culture but also recover the intended meaning of his work. One such assumption is that heroism is parallel with action. This assumption is the foundation of the all too common Romanticizing of Satan in Paradise Lost. As Satan is the most active, ambitious character in Milton's work, many critics have made the mistake of setting him as a Romantic hero; however, acknowledging the centrality of passivity in Milton's work (and perhaps in the Christian message itself) undermines the romanticizing of Satan as a character. In other words, by Romanticizing Paradise Lost (or aligning it with the foreign and exotic), this de-Romanticizes Satan.
Keywords: Paradise Lost, Orientalism, Romanticism