Professor Hud Hudson
Office: Bond Hall 311 
Office Hours: W 10:00-11:30

PHIL 417
Bond Hall 111

Tue/Thu 12:00-1:15



John Milton Paradise Lost
Gordon Teskey, Editor
(W.W. Norton & Company, 2004).



Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung
Glittering Vices

(Brazos Press, 2009).



In this seminar we will critically examine the role of engaging literature when doing philosophy, and we will carefully read and discuss John Milton's Paradise Lost, emphasizing the philosophical themes and problems raised by the poem.

Each student enrolled in the course will be responsible for the following work:

(i)  giving a 40-minute class presentation on an assigned topic and leading class discussion afterward

(ii)  submitting four 700-800 word critical responses to the assigned readings for the seminar topics (student's choice -- with the exception of topic I (The Fall) and your own presentation topic)

(iii)  submitting two carefully crafted questions (one pair for each of the fifteen seminar topics -- with the exception of topic I (The Fall) and your own presentation topic)

(iv)  submitting an 1,800-2,400 word revision which takes into account my comments on one of your original critical responses (student's choice of which one of the four responses to revise)

Your presentation will be worth 20% of your final grade for the course.  Each original reading response will be worth 10% of your final grade for the course.  The revised reading response will be worth 40% of your final grade for the course.  I will explain my expectations for the presentations and reading responses on the first day of class.  Each pair of discussion questions will be marked as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.  Beginning with the third unsatisfactory mark on a pair of discussion questions, you will be penalized 1% on your final grade for the course.  Questions can be submitted only on days you are present for the class meeting.  An absence will result in an automatic unsatisfactory mark for the questions due that day.

Presentation topics will be assigned on the first day of class, and I will schedule brief individual conferences with each of you at the beginning of the quarter to discuss the content of your assigned topic.  You have 40 minutes.  Do not present for less than 40 minutes.  Do not present for more than 45 minutes.  Practice.  Practice some more.  In preparing your presentation, you should do some serious research into your topic on your own.  Become very familiar with your subject matter.  Afterwards, you will be expected to lead discussion and to answer questions from the members of the seminar about your presentation and the readings for your topic for the remainder of the class period.  Your presentation will earn up to 20 points -- the total of your scores in the following four areas: 

(i)  0-5 points: staying within the 40-45 minute time limit

(ii)  0-5 points: explanation of the topic and making clear exactly what is at issue

(iii)  0-5 points: discussion and critical evaluation of the topic (with emphasis on the relation between your topic and Paradise Lost)

(iv)  0-5 points: overall quality of presentation (e.g., clarity, delivery, level of preparedness, responses to questions from the audience)

Critical responses to the readings are your opportunity to put your philosophical skills to work.  You have had several courses in philosophy at this point in your undergraduate career.  You know how to identify and reconstruct arguments that appear in a variety of contexts.  You know how to identify and expose suppressed premises.  You know how to clarify, question, attack, and defend claims.  Put that know-how to work on these mini-essays!

Take the composing of your discussion questions seriously.  Don't simply jot down something twenty minutes before class that you are somewhat puzzled or curious about.  Craft questions that you will be willing to ask the presenter in the presence of your peers, questions that illuminate something of philosophical importance in the readings, questions that pose challenges and problems or that point toward potential solutions to challenges and problems, questions that can lead to fruitful philosophical discussion.  Much of what you will be able to get out of this seminar will depend on the quality of our group interaction in response to the readings and presentations.  This is a chance for you to make a significant and individual contribution to our joint experience.

I will open the course by offering some remarks on the Philosophy of Literature and on Paradise Lost designed to guide the rest of our seminar.  Beginning on October 10th, class meetings will have the following structure:  I will take (roughly) 15 minutes at the beginning of the hour to conduct a bit of review or to introduce new material related to our seminar themes.  Our speaker for the day will then treat us to a 40-minute lecture drawn from the readings assigned for that meeting and will lead class discussion on the readings and presentation for the remainder of the class period.

Finally, please note my policy on late assignments:  The deadline for submitting an original reading response or a set of discussion questions is 12:05 in class.  After that -- it's late.  A late reading response will be penalized 2 (out of a possible 10) points.  A late set of discussion questions will automatically be marked unsatisfactory.  (I'm sorry to impose this rule, but recent seminars have been impaired by students who are printing at the last minute and arriving 10-20 minutes late to class.  I want to be respectful to our presenters and to minimize this kind of disruption this term.)  The deadline for submitting your final revision and your self-assessment (to be explained below) is 5pm on Monday, December 11th.  After that -- it's late.  You must submit both your revision and your completed self-assessment questionnaire as email attachments to  A revision or questionnaire that is submitted within 24 hours after it is due will result in an 7% penalty on your final grade for the course.  A revision or questionnaire that is submitted 24-48 hours after it is due will result in a 15% penalty on your final grade for the course.  I will not accept submissions after 5pm on Wednesday, December 13th.



Attendance is not a requirement for the course, and you do not need to contact me to inform me that you will miss a meeting of the class.  If you do miss class, however, it is your responsibility to get notes from one of your colleagues.  Office hours are not designed for lecturing or for introducing new material.  You are, though, welcome to come talk to me about any questions you have once you work through the notes.

If you need to contact me, email works best.  Email is appropriate for brief questions and comments or to set up a time to meet.  Please note that I have a firm policy against conducting substantive discussions about the class material or answering substantive questions by email.

Academic dishonesty is a serious infraction and will be dealt with severely.  It is the responsibility of students to read, to understand, and to uphold the standards for academic honesty in Appendix D of the university catalog.  Students are also responsible for knowing and adhering to the university's standards for Ethical Computing.

Western is committed to providing a campus community, workplace, and academic environment that is fully accessible to people of all abilities.  Under federal and state law, no qualified person will be denied access to participation in or the benefits of a university program or activity on the basis of a disability.  More information on accommodations is available through the university's  Disability Resources website.

Western's students enjoy the same basic rights, privileges, and freedoms granted to all members of society.  At the same time, acceptance of admission to the university carries with it an obligation to fulfill certain responsibilities as a member of our university community.  For more information on these expectations, see Western’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Code.

Western is committed to an environment free of discrimination and harassment.  Federal and state laws, as well as university policies, protect faculty, staff, and students against discrimination based on the following legally protected characteristics: Race, Color, Creed, Religion, National Origin, Sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), Age, Disability, Marital Status, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, Genetic Information, and Veteran Status. For more details, see the university's Equal Opportunity website.

Western encourages students to seek university assistance and support at the onset of an illness, difficulty, or crisis.  In the case of a medical concern or question, contact the Health Center (650-3400).  In the case of an emotional or psychological concern or question, contact the Counseling Center (650-3400).  In the case of a safety concern, contact the University Police (650-3555).  In the case of a family or personal emergency, contact the Dean of Students (650-3450).


The seminar is designed to help you come to learn about certain topics in philosophy and in the philosophy of literature and to assist you in developing and improving a range of skills.  Our emphases will be on critical reading, critical thinking, the careful reconstruction and critical evaluation of arguments, analytic writing, and effective speaking.

As part of the philosophy department's outcomes assessment plan, you will be required to complete a self-assessment questionnaire.  Please note that I will not submit your final grade for the course until you have submitted the self-assessment questionnaire.


COURSE OUTLINE          (SEPStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)




Opening Remarks on Philosophy of Literature and on Paradise Lost

10/03 Conferences Individual Conferences  on Topics I - VIII  (12:00pm - 2:00pm)
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Books I - VI
10/05 Conferences Individual Conferences on Topics IX - XV  (12:00pm - 2:00pm)
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Books VII - XII
10/10 Topic I The Fall



Paradise Lost -- Book I

  Speaker Sean
10/12   No Class




10/17 Topic II Theodicy



Paradise Lost -- Book I

    Tooley, Michael  "The Problem of Evil"  (Sections 4-8)  SEP




10/19 Topic III Hell

Paradise Lost -- Book I

    Talbott, Thomas  "Heaven and Hell in Christian Thought"  (Sections 1-4)  SEP




10/24 Topic IV Well-Being



Paradise Lost -- Book II
    Crisp, Roger  "Well-BeingSEP




10/26 Topic V Envy
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Book II
    DeYoung, Rebecca Konyndyk  "Envy"  Glittering Vices  (Brazos 2009)



10/31 Topic VI Freedom and Foreknowledge

Paradise Lost -- Book III

    Zagzebski, Linda  "Foreknowledge and Free Will" (Sections 1-3)  SEP
  Speaker Kane
11/02 Topic VII Atonement
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Book III
    Murray, Michael and Rea, Michael  "Philosophy and Christian Theology"  (Sections 1 and 4)  SEP
  Speaker Jesse




11/07 Topic VIII Self-Deception



Paradise Lost -- Book IV

    Deweese-Boyd, Ian  "Self-Deception"  (Sections 1-5)  SEP
  Speaker Wes



No Class
11/14 Topic IX Moral Luck

Paradise Lost -- Book IV

    Nelkin, Dana K.  "Moral LuckSEP
  Speaker Hannah
11/16 Topic X Pride
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Books V and VI
    Roberts, Robert C.  "The Vice of Pride"  Faith and Philosophy  Vol. 26, No. 2 (2009): 119-133
  Speaker Miranda
11/21 Topic XI Forbidden Knowledge
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Books VII and VIII
    Shattuck, Roger  "Six Categories of Forbidden Knowledge"  from Forbidden Knowledge  (Harvest Books 1997)






No Class
11/28 Topic XII Vainglory
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Book IX
    DeYoung, Rebecca Konyndyk  "Vainglory"  Glittering Vices  (Brazos 2009)
  Speaker Zach
11/30 Topic XIII Lust
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Book IX
    DeYoung, Rebecca Konyndyk  "Lust"  Glittering Vices  (Brazos 2009)
  Speaker Trevor
12/05 Topic XIV Blame
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Book X
    Tognazzini, Neal and Coates, Justin  "Blame"  (Section 2)  SEP
  Speaker Roxy
12/07 Topic XV O Happy Fault / O Fortunate Fall
  Readings Paradise Lost -- Books XI and XII
    Plantinga, Alvin  "Supralapsarianism or O Felix Culpa!"  in Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil  Peter van Inwagen, ed.  (Eerdmans 2004)
  Speaker Joshua



Both Revision and Self-Assessment Due by 5pm as Email Attachments to