Type of Submission

Podium Presentation

Keywords

Milton, homosexuality, 21st century, England, Renaissance, gay marriage, platonic love

Abstract

Scholar David Hawkes refers to John Milton as a “Hero of Our Time.” Milton’s written works, including his poetry and political treatises, contain cultural and theological insight applicable not only to his 17th Century English culture, but 21st Century American culture as well. As homosexuality continues to enter the public sphere in Western society, many scholars are uncovering past insights about how sexuality has evolved. Milton’s literary texts provide insight into his own sexual orientation and how people viewed human sexuality post-English Renaissance. Homosexuality is a broad topic, but Milton’s works give insight into three main areas—homosexual sex, sexual orientation, and gay marriage. In his own Protestant Puritan life, Milton believed that the physical act of homosexual sex was sinful; during his life, the government stigmatized the act as a crime punishable by death. While some scholars argue that Milton had a homoerotic relationship with his close friend Charles Diodati, an analysis of their letters to each other and Milton’s elegy to Diodati after his death prove counter. In early modern England, philosophers highly valued male love in Platonic terms, similar to the contemporary idea of a bromance; Milton and Diodati’s relationship was not sexual or romantic. However, Milton’s views about divorce and his political tracts leave room to include the legality of gay marriage. Milton believed that the government should not interfere with marriage, that gender roles should be egalitarian, and that the goal of marriage should be an intellectual union of two people to glorify God. Therefore, his arguments, set in a contemporary context, allow for the legalization of gay marriage. Milton had an extreme influence on poetry, literature, theology, politics, and thinking in his day, and his wisdom continues to envelop current ideology. It is the duty of twenty-first century scholars to learn from the past and apply it to the present in all social issues.

Faculty Sponsor or Advisor’s Name

Dr. Peggy Wilfong

Campus Venue

Stevens Student Center, Room 240

Location

Cedarville, OH

Start Date

4-1-2015 1:30 PM

End Date

4-1-2015 1:45 PM

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

A Queer Poet in a Queer Time.pdf (514 kB)
PowerPoint

 
Apr 1st, 1:30 PM Apr 1st, 1:45 PM

A Queer Poet in a Queer Time: John Milton and Homosexuality

Cedarville, OH

Scholar David Hawkes refers to John Milton as a “Hero of Our Time.” Milton’s written works, including his poetry and political treatises, contain cultural and theological insight applicable not only to his 17th Century English culture, but 21st Century American culture as well. As homosexuality continues to enter the public sphere in Western society, many scholars are uncovering past insights about how sexuality has evolved. Milton’s literary texts provide insight into his own sexual orientation and how people viewed human sexuality post-English Renaissance. Homosexuality is a broad topic, but Milton’s works give insight into three main areas—homosexual sex, sexual orientation, and gay marriage. In his own Protestant Puritan life, Milton believed that the physical act of homosexual sex was sinful; during his life, the government stigmatized the act as a crime punishable by death. While some scholars argue that Milton had a homoerotic relationship with his close friend Charles Diodati, an analysis of their letters to each other and Milton’s elegy to Diodati after his death prove counter. In early modern England, philosophers highly valued male love in Platonic terms, similar to the contemporary idea of a bromance; Milton and Diodati’s relationship was not sexual or romantic. However, Milton’s views about divorce and his political tracts leave room to include the legality of gay marriage. Milton believed that the government should not interfere with marriage, that gender roles should be egalitarian, and that the goal of marriage should be an intellectual union of two people to glorify God. Therefore, his arguments, set in a contemporary context, allow for the legalization of gay marriage. Milton had an extreme influence on poetry, literature, theology, politics, and thinking in his day, and his wisdom continues to envelop current ideology. It is the duty of twenty-first century scholars to learn from the past and apply it to the present in all social issues.

 

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