Date of Degree

2-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

English

Advisor

Feisal G. Mohamed

Committee Members

Carrie Hintz

William Fisher

Subject Categories

Biblical Studies | Continental Philosophy | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Literature in English, British Isles | Rhetoric

Keywords

John Milton, subjectivity, paradisal recovery, Paradise Lost, return, messianic

Abstract

This study focuses on the discovery of subjectivity through the recovery of lost paradise in Milton’s late poems, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. This theme revolves around the tension between the affective and the empirical, which also configure the spheres of the sacred and the profane. I explore how the irresistibly emancipatory impulse of recovering lost paradise compels Miltonic subjects to seek ways to return to their originary state or the divine ensemble. During this process, the subject is engaged with his own incapacity or privation while reaching into the sphere of unknown potentiality. In particular, the ideas of Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Freud, and Jacque Lacan among others, all greatly help scrutinize the impulses of returning and renewal at the key moments of the texts pregnant with potential of revelation with regard to the messianic time, sphere of indistinction, status of event, and the real of the subject.

These late poems also revolve around the existence of forms of life understood through the concept of the threshold or a limit point at which the subject is given an opportunity to reach into the infinite and the unknown. What Milton’s late works have shown is that the poet presents a powerful restoration scheme aimed at optimizing human potentiality v through myth and engaging in the critical stance of recovery of a lost paradise as the poet’s act of radical politics. Thematizing the recovery of the lost paradise through awakening to the subject’s own potentiality, these late poems accentuate their subjects’ attempt at returning to the originary state, which has been rendered undecidable and indistinct and thus full of potentials.

This study therefore explores how the captivating moments of self-introspection or self-indulgence reveal the potentiality or impotentiality of attaining selfhood, while the Miltonic subjects lead themselves into or through the site of indistinction. Ultimately in these poems focused on renewal, the Miltonic subject grows appreciably to harness the restorative force, via affirmation or negation, in order to “found his temptation” or achieve enlightenment.

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