Digital Humanities at U.C. Berkeley: Milton

Mellon grant advances Berkeley’s Digital Humanities

By Public Affairs, UC Berkeley | December 2, 2014

With a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UC Berkeley will be making major advances in the integration of digital tools and technologies in humanities scholarship and teaching.

“Digital tools and methods such as data visualization, GIS, statistics, and text mining can have a transformative effect on research and teaching in the humanities, particularly with the mass digitization of texts and artwork. But they are unfamiliar to many humanities scholars and learning to use them effectively requires an investment of time and resources,” said Anthony J. Cascardi, UC Berkeley’s Irving and Jean Stone Dean of Arts and Humanities and principal investigator on the grant.

Comus in Art

Miltonists will be very interested in Jan Piggott’s new study of the artistic impact of Milton’s Comus:

Piggott, Jan. “Milton's Comus: from Text to Stage, the Fine Arts, and Book-illustration, c. 1750-1850.” [23 illustrations] British Art Journal XV.2 (Winter 2014-15), 18-32.

This essay reflects the remarkably sustained involvement of the Fine Arts with Milton’s composition, suggesting an impact far greater than its modest status in literary criticism. Above all it makes clear from its artistic reflections that the work has had a sustained performance history, which has inspired many of these treatments (including several modern productions at U.C. Berkeley, as recorded on our website at The essay should prove to be a required reference for all future treatments of the Masque. With best wishes, Hugh Richmond

Milton Marathon: University of Richmond

Schwartz, Louis 9:42 AM (14 minutes ago)

Just letting people who might be in or near the Richmond, VA area on February 28th know that my seminar students will be hosting a marathon reading of Paradise Lost on Saturday February 28th.

We’ll start at 7:30 pm in the Whitehurst Living Room, in Whitehurst Hall (near the Richmond College Dorms on the University of Richmond campus). The reading will continue through dawn on Sunday morning.

All are welcome to participate. Simply feel free to join the readers’ circle and to stay for all or just part of the night. Bring a copy of the poem, if you have one. Copies will also be available at the reading, if you don’t. Light refreshments (and lots of coffee!) will also be available, but feel free to bring your own food and/or drink to share.

For more information, please contact Louis Schwartz (804)-289-8315 or email:

The War Between Michael and Lucifer

C. S. Lewis Society Bay Area Book and Film Club Meets bi-weekly Wednesdays

Wednesday, January 14 and 28, 2015: Soldier Boy: The War Between Michael & Lucifer, by Raymond Dennehy; leader/moderator, José Yulo, Ph.D. A Socratic dialogue between heaven and hell, Soldier Boy follows in the rich tradition of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters.

"Paradise Lost" as Oral Epic


Hugh Macrae Richmond

Much literature was written for oral performance or may gain from it, not just drama but lyrics and narratives, as the successful staging of many a novel confirms. Specifically, many early epics were composed for recitation, from Homer’s Iliad to the Chanson de Roland. Teaching is mostly oral performance, requiring dynamism, pacing, diversity, and progression. Our experience at U.C. Berkeley is that performance by theatre professionals, faculty, or students themselves greatly increases the impact and intelligibility of most assigned texts. In addition to numerous plays of Shakespeare, and both Milton’s Comus and Paradise Lost, we have successfully staged works as different as dialogues of Plato, St. Paul’s letters, incantations by the witch Celestina of Rojas, speeches of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and even parts of Pope’s The Rape of the Lock,

Why Milton's Satan is Retro

Why Milton’s Satan is Retro.
Hugh Macrae Richmond U.C. Berkeley

In my sequence of Miltonic images on Flickr the most popular is one of Milton’s Satan – he may even out-rate Vampires. And I worry that this image appeals so much because recent discussion of Satan’ s “psychology” in “Paradise Lost” often seems too literal - absolutely anthropomorphic and archaically “realistic.” For he is not a human being, but an angel – and angels are not complex, variable human psychologies, just an affirming agency of a higher power.


Intelligence Squared has released a podcast of a 'debate,' Shakespeare vs Milton: The Kings of English Literature, chaired on June 22nd 2014 by Erica Wagner between Professor James Shapiro (Columbia University) and Professor Nigel Smith (Princeton University), extolling Shakespeare and Milton, respectively . It is accessible at:

Advocate for Shakespeare
James Shapiro
Professor of English at Columbia University and author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare.

Advocate for Milton
Nigel Smith
Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature at Princeton University and author of Is Milton better than Shakespeare?