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John Milton at 400

The Joseph A. Wittreich Collection, A Gift in Honor of Stuart Curran on the Occasion of His Retirement
Portrait of John Milton

On exhibit: April 6th - August 17th, 2009

2008 marked the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton (1608-1674), poet, religious and political polemicist, and revolutionary. One of the greatest poets of the English language, Milton is the author of major lyric poems as well as of "Lycidas," Comus (A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle)Samson AgonistesParadise Lost, and Paradise Regained, all of them read and studied throughout the English-speaking world. His Areopagitica is a central document in the history of developing attitudes towards uncensored speech and a free press. He also wrote a history of Britain and works on Christian doctrine, education, and freedom of worship. Siding with the Republicans during the English Civil War, he opposed the monarchy generally and Charles I specifically, argued against Church of England practices that, he believed, smacked too closely of Roman Catholicism, and served as international spokesman for the Commonwealth government of Oliver Cromwell. Not only one of the greatest of English writers, he is also among the most interesting figures of England's seventeenth century.

This exhibition honors Stuart Curran, Vartan Gregorian Professor of English and former Director of the Center for Italian Studies, on the occasion of his retirement. Drawing primarily on a collection given in 2008 to honor Professor Curran on this same occasion, the exhibition and the collection on which it is based both depend on the generosity of Joseph A. Wittreich, Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. An extensively published specialist on Milton who has also written about Shakespeare and Blake, among others, Professor Wittreich is Professor Curran's partner.

Stuart Curran's degrees come from the University of Michigan and Harvard. He taught at Wisconsin and John Hopkins before coming to Penn. He is the author of critical studies and a bibliography of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Poetic Form and British Romanticism, and has edited the Cambridge Companion to British RomanticismThe Poems of Charlotte Smith, and -- in fourteen volumes -- The Works of Charlotte Smith. Women poets of the Romantic period are a specialty, and his work has helped reorient early nineteenth-century English literary studies to an awareness and appreciation of women romanticists, hitherto largely ignored by scholars and readers. He has also edited works by Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley. At Penn, he has taught and lectured on Milton.

This exhibition has been curated by Simran Thadani.

Exhibition opening: Thursday, April 16th, 5:30pm

free and open to the public (please show photo ID at entrance)

Exhibition opening, with remarks by Joseph A. Wittreich and Stuart Curran, followed by a reception.

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