Monday, December 16, 2013

My Experience with Milton

Literati at their finest.
To start off, I had to take this last opportunity to post a picture of Paradise Lost, the band that has plagued all of our research efforts.

Now on to the story of my paper. I didn't come up with the idea for my topic by any noble means. I just enjoy disagreeing with people. I thought that it was just too easy to read Adam as symbolic of humanity and asked myself, "why could that be wrong?" Since it's so much more fun to prove people wrong than it is to prove them right, I stuck with that topic and it turned into what I hope is a decent paper. (If not, I blame the Fall.)

I developed my argument mainly through the text of Paradise Lost itself. When I met with Dr. Burton during the semester, he told me that I have a good idea, but I am lacking the "so what?" implications of my argument. So, I expanded my paper to include the concept that if Adam is read as the paradigm of humanity, it contradicts what Milton felt about Renaissance Humanity and Christianity. I found a lot of primary source material in Of Education and other Christian doctrine texts that supported my new claim.

I struggled to find any secondary sources that support my argument, but Dr. Burton suggested that I find secondary sources that I can argue against. As I've already mentioned, I really enjoy disagreeing with people and that really worked to my advantage when I approached these sources under a new mindset. Just a few suggestions from Dr. Burton really changed the direction of my paper for the better, which is essentially social proofing in action. The other sources I went to for social proof weren't as effective, but I learned a lot just from finding people to try and work with. People I now follow on Twitter or Facebook groups have spent a lot of time and effort looking at these topics and it was helpful to find live communities who are engaged in Milton studies and get a feel for contemporary dialogue.

I hope that, whether or not people agree with the argument my paper is making, they will still find the essence of the article to be helpful. By this I mean that it is important to not make interpretive assumptions but to branch out and find out new information on ideas we may just be taking for granted and weren't necessarily grounded in fact.

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