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Catholic and Reformed: John Milton and Italian Religion
March 23, 2009 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Solmsen Fellow (2008-2009)
English, University of Memphis
The paper asks a question that hasn’t been addressed for over 50 years: how and why did a young, virtually unknown, and staunchly Protestant poet manage to make so many friends among aristocratic and famous Italian Catholics, including several priests, during his year-long visit to Italy? Why did he ignore standard warnings against “evil” Italy, and why does he relate no religious misunderstandings or other obstacles arising between himself and his hosts? Why did he almost exclusively use their tributes to preface his first volume of verse, and in what sense did these experiences make John Milton who he turned out to be? These are biographical questions, but the project also focuses heavily on theoretical questions involving paradigm formation, reception theory, and the “death” and rebirth of major authors.
Catherine G. Martin is Solmsen Fellow at the Institute. She specializes in early modern literature, religion, philosophy, and rhetoric (chiefly allegory). She has written two books and edited two essay collections, and won prizes from the Milton Society of America as well as the John Donne Society. She is currently expanding her main areas of expertise (England and France) to include early modern Italy.