Birmingham City University, School of English Guest Seminar

Wed 21 Feb 2018, 4.30 pm, C423

‘Apt Numbers: On Line Citations of Paradise Lost‘, by Dr David Currell, American University of Beirut

Abstract ‘Apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another’: so Milton describes the features of his verse line in Paradise Lost. This presentation considers how practices of citation and extraction engage the epic as a lineated text, in ways that typically interrupt or ignore its usual linear publication. Looking at the OED, Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and Twitter, and connecting the logic of these textual spaces to practices already established in the early modern period (namely, ‘consultation reading’ and commonplacing), I consider the evolving history of line citations and online citations of Paradise Lost. Taking the lead from Milton’s own phrasing, but shifting from prosody to data visualization, I close with some ideas and open questions about a quantitative approach to the reception history of literary works.

Bio David Currell is Assistant Professor of English at the American University of Beirut. He works especially on classical reception (the focus of his long-term project, Epic Satire, and of essays in Shakespeare Survey and Critical Survey) and on the global reception of Milton (represented by essays in English Studies and the collection Fall Narratives). With Islam Issa he is coediting the collection Digital Milton.

School of English

Birmingham City University

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