41701: the rest of term

Essential Information

Given the circumstances thrust upon us, and the extreme inconvenience for you all as students, it's my duty to make course completion as painless as possible.

1. You are welcome to revise your first paper, whether you have had a chance to meet with me or no. For reasons I have been unable to disclose, Norton has removed “The Exequy” from its website. In its place, I hereby supply the text from the University of Toronto. 

I'd be happy to teleconference with you via ZOOM (see link below) if that would help. If you choose to revise,  the final version of the item is due no later than Friday, 1 May, 9 a.m., via email

2. The exam over the first half of the course is due as before: Friday, 27 March, 9 a.m. via email. You are welcome to revise, and, as with the paper, we can use ZOOM if you like. If you choose to redo,  the final version of the item is due no later than Friday, 1 May, 9 a.m., via email.

3. We'll cover Paradise Lost by short assignments (5) to approximate class meetings rather than by formal papers or exams (see below).

Download ZOOMl




Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Herrick, Lovelace, Carew, Waller: what common field marks do they share to identify them as poets of their time? Or, what one specific thing do they all have in common?

Besides maleness, that is. This is a take-home examination. Detail and specificity, as well as adventurous thinking, are definitely prized here. Since this is an exam rather than a formal paper, strict adherence to the conventions and formatting of formal writing are not necessarily required. At the same time, please consult the Writing Papers webpage as well as the brief guide to Analytical Writing below.


4-5 pp. 

reputable sources if you care to use them

due Friday, 27 March  9 a.m. via email: stapletm@pfw.edu

no late papers 

The grade on your  exam is approximate. This means that you may revise  for a better grade. However, you really have to revise the exam, not simply "correct" errors. 

Normally, I would require an office conference, but the circumstances prevent us from doing so. If you'd like to videoconference, we can try ZOOM.  

 The due date for the revision is any time before  Friday, 1 May, 9 a.m., via email

note well: I always acknowledge an email submission. If I DON'T acknowledge after a reasonable period of time, it means I didn't get the paper. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up in this case, not mine. 


Paradise lost

Paradise Lost  is challenging for beginners. Below, I've appended a brief guide to stimulate thinking as you work your way through the epic; a chart to explain how the convention of in medias res operates in the poem; and an explanation of two of its more unfamiliar subjects to twenty-first-century audiences: Eve and the idea of sexuality before the Fall; and an audio of the entire thing.   

I cannot stress this enough: Paradise Lost is much easier to understand if you listen to it while you read. Since Milton was blind when he composed it, dictating it to his daughters and others who acted as amanuenses, it is very much an oral work.  I own a few different readings of the epic on CD and online, but a fairly decent reading free of charge is on LibriVox, by Thomas Copeland. He's a touch dramatic, as you'll see, but he reads slowly, which is a great help.

LibriVox Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost guide

Magnificent Paradise Lost in medias res chart

Grandmother Eve and  Prelapsarian  Sexuality

Each Monday, beginning on 30 March, I'll post a link to a prompt in this space to which you'll respond, the results from you due the following Friday, beginning 3 April. These assignments will be short, 2 pp., and specific. They should be submitted like our regular papers and exams, a Word document attached to an email, due each Friday by 9 a.m. They cannot be late. If you miss the deadline: 0 for the assignment. stapletm@pfw.edu

Along with every prompt, I'll try to create a mini-lecture on PL designed to assist  you in navigating the poem and the assignment. The back of our Norton Critical Edition has several essays that should help, and if you're interested in interpretation, you'll enjoy them or profit from them, or both.

There will be five of these prompts, plus one for extra credit. The logistics are simple. If you do all five, 90 pts., the equivalent of an A, will be averaged in with your two previous paper and exam grades, or your revisions of these. If you miss one: 80 pts. = B, and so on. Of course, the sixth, extra prompt can make up for one you missed.  These are credit-only. I'll return them with comments.

Prompt 1: 30 March, due 3 April

Prompt 2:  6 April, due 10 April

Prompt 3: 13 April, due 17 April

Prompt 4: 20 April, due 24 April

Prompt 5 (plus extra credit)  27 April, due 1 May


analytical writing




How does your quoted evidence relate to the point you're making? Which words or phrases make reference to the concept you're trying to explain, and why does your evidence matter?




Paragraphs should be focused on a single topic, with topic sentences, evidence, and analysis. They should not consist of a series of broad, unrelated statements.




Which words and phrases seem especially important in each quotation as they relate to the other quotations?




When it's time to analyze, avoid needless summary unless the meaning of a given passage is unclear or at issue.  Why does something matter? Why is it important? What insight can you bring to the material?




When it's time to summarize, try to extract the basics from a given passage, scene, or chapter. Try to be as accurate as possible.