News Nuggets January 2021

Dear Milton Society of America member,

It may be the dead of winter, but if Edward Phillips was right that in writing Paradise Lost Milton’s “vein never happily flowed but from the autumnal equinoctial to the vernal,” the recent productivity of our membership suggests they’ve taken inspiration from his example. For evidence, just take a look below:

Member Publications, Talks, Awards, and Activities

1) Timothy Harrison has just published a new book, Coming To: Consciousness and Natality in Early Modern England, with the University of Chicago Press.

2) Jason Kerr recently published an article in The Seventeenth Century on Elizabeth Attaway, familiar to Miltonists as an early reader of the divorce tracts.

3) Henry Weinfield‘s poem, “Paradise Lost: A Poem in Twelve Books: The Shorter Version,” originally read at the Milton Society of America Annual Dinner in 2016, is included in his collection of poems, As the Crow Flieswhich will be available from Dos Madres Press this winter 2021 ($19.00).

4) MSA Exec Committee Member Amrita Dhar has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to complete her book project on Milton’s Blind Language.

5) Gordon Teskey published Spenserian Moments (Harvard, 2019), and his Paradise Lost: Authoritative Text, Sources and Backgrounds, Criticism is now in its second edition (W. W. Norton and Company, 2020).

6) Irene Montori has just published Milton, the Sublime and Dramas of Choice. Figures of Heroic and Literary Virtue. Rome: 2020.

7) Ayelet C. Langer’s “Milton’s Aristotelian Transformations in the Representation of Regenerative Change” is in the latest issue of Modern Philology (118.3 / February 2021).

8) MSA Exec Committee Member John Garrison has just published Ovid and Masculinity in English Renaissance Literature (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2021), co-edited with Goran Stanivukovic. The volume contains chapters on Milton and essays by MSA members, including Kyle PivettiMelissa SanchezIan Moulton, and MSA Secretary Eric Song.

9) Angelica Duran invites you to join and/or consider giving your students extra credit for virtually attending Week 1 of the 70th-anniversary instantiation of Purdue’s Books & Coffee event, which features a Young Adult (YA) fantasy fiction that takes its title from and directly engages with Paradise Lost, and that includes the 2013 MSA Honored Scholar John Rumrich in the “Acknowledgements,” since he was the author’s inspiring undergraduate instructor.

  • A Discussion with Sandra Fernandez Rhoads, author of Mortal Sight: Books & Coffee, co-sponsored by the Purdue Student Union Board and English Department, Thursday, February 4, 2020, 4:00–5:00 PM EST (pre-events 4:00–4:30 PM EST, author discussion 4:30–5:00 PM EST). For more details, including the live-stream link, click on “Week 1” of this link.
  • For Mortal Sight and its trailer see here and here.

MSA @ the 2021 RSA
Just past the vernal equinox, the MSA will try to go Milton one better and keep scholarly and creative productivity high at the 2021 Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting. This year’s RSA will be held virtually, in two three-day blocks (in order to accommodate panels rolled over from the cancelled 2020 conference). The meeting days and times are April 13–15, 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. EDT / April 20–22, 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Details and times are still being worked out, but we have a wealth of MSA-sponsored panels.

1) Milton & Globalization: The Arts
Chair: MSA Treasurer Lauren Shohet

  • Sandra Fernandez Rhoads, “Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Young Adult Fantasy Fiction “Colliding Line Duology”
  • Richard Kenton Webb, “An Artist’s Response to the Synergies of Drawing and Painting Paradise Lost

Respondent: MSA President Angelica Duran

2) Milton & Globalization: Variations on/of Reading
Chair: MSA President Angelica Duran

  • Margaret Kean, “Reading Paradise Regained in the Age of COVID-19”
  • Matthew Dolloff, “A Young Adult Paradise Lost and the Politics of Twentieth-Century Ecuador”
  • Mario Murgia Elizalde, “Translating Milton’s Sonnets into (Mostly) Mexican Spanish and in the Twenty-first Century”

3) Milton & the Grounds of Reinterpretation
Chair: MSA Exec Comm Member Marissa Nicosia

  • Paul Cefalu, “The Use and Abuse of Eternal Life: Interpreting the Tree of Life in Paradise Lost
  • Edward Jones, “Nomenclature, Taxes, and Misunderstandings about Milton in the Restoration”
  • Nathaniel Likert, “Milton and the Cambridge School of Allegory”
  • Raphael Magarik, “Did Milton Read the Zohar? or, How Milton Became Jewish”

4) Reading Milton in the Present
Chair: MSA Secretary Eric Song

  • James (Tom) Clayton, “Milton in Coalition: Antagonism and Indifference in Civil-War Era Prose”
  • Matthew Mullin, “The Spiritual Biopolitics of John Milton’s Blindness”
  • De’Aris Rhymes, “From Light to Darkness: Exploring Racialized Language in Paradise Lost
  • MSA Treasurer Lauren Shohet, “Media, Matrix, and Milton’s Eve”

5) Milton, Matter, and Vision

  • MSA Exec Comm Member Steve Fallon, “Milton and Monism, Again”
  • Thomas Vozar, “Physical Sublimity in Paradise Lost
  • James Nohrnberg, “Revisiting the Argus-Hermes Myth in Paradise Lost and Re-Reading It Back into the Poem”
  • Vanita Neekalanta, “Paradise Lost Under Heaven: Divine Spectatoryship, Surveillance, and Anxiety in Milton’s Epic”

6) Post-Critical Milton

  • Joe Moshenska, “Polychronic Milton: The 1645 Poems
  • Hannah Crawforth, “Milton and Metahistory”
  • Ben Labreche, “Critique, Political Theology, and Raising Hell”

Respondent: Leah Whittington, Harvard U.

7) Blinds and Windows: Milton in Emerging Media
Chair: Wendy Furman-Adams

  • Camille Adnot. “From Milton’s Paradise Lost to Blake’s Milton: Making Dark and Light Materialize”
  • MSA President Angelica Duran, “Milton Visualized for Children, ca. 1900–2004”
  • Jonathan Olson, “Steve Orlando’s Comic Book Adaptation of Paradise Lost”

8) Spenser, Milton, Ireland – co-sponsored with the International Spenser Society
Chair: MSA Treasurer Lauren Shohet

  • Daniel Vitkus, ““Milton’s Anti-Imperial Turn: Rewriting Spenserian Virtue inParadise Regained.”
  • Zainab Cheema, “Spenser and Milton’s Ireland: The Spanish Connection.”
  • Sujata Iyengar, “‘Decolonizing’ Spenser and Milton through multicultural and diasporic Irish verse and students’ creative responses.”
  • Yulia Ryzhik, Laughter of Gods and Men in Milton and Spenser

News from Friends and Affiliate Organizations

Edward Raupp writes from the South Caucasus with news of the formation of the Milton Society of Georgia as a registered scholarly nonprofit organization.

The aims of the Society are:

  • To bring together a community of scholars interested in the life and works of John Milton.
  • To encourage production of literary works associated with John Milton.
  • To issue publications about John Milton.
  • To hold meetings at which Milton’s works will be studied and discussed.

Membership is free and open to anyone with an interest in English language and literature. If you would like to join, send a message to

Calls for Papers, Proposals, Applications

The annual International John Bunyan Society (IJBS) Early Career Essay Prize recognizes the cutting-edge research of junior scholars in the field of early modern religion and dissent; applicants can submit an essay up to 8,000 words (e.g. part of a chapter or a draft of an article or a written version of a conference paper) by 1 March 2021 to the Society’s General Secretary, Robert W. Daniel, via

The competition is open to PhD students and post-doctoral researchers up to two years after their viva. To be eligible, applicants MUST be members of the IJBS. More details here.

Unexpected Milton Sightings

The New York Times obituary for Virginia Mollenkott, the pioneering lesbian evangelical scholar of the Bible, contains this claim about where her scholarship on the Bible’s support for women’s and LGBTQ rights began:

“Dr. Mollenkott earned a master’s degree in English at Temple University and her Ph.D. at New York University. Her dissertation was on John Milton, the 17th-century English poet who wrote ‘Paradise Lost,’ and her deep dive into his work liberated her thinking about the Bible. She began to read it more critically, as a literary as well as sacred text. In studying Milton’s writings about love and marriage, and about divorce over incompatibility, she found the resolve to divorce Mr. Mollenkott [the man she had married to ‘cure’ her homosexuality] in 1973.”


Until next time, friends—

Brooke (
MSA Vice-President

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