Edwards, Karen L.

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Edwards, Karen L.


ADDRESSES: Office— Department of English, University of Exeter, Room 203, Queen’s Bldg., The Queen’s Drive, Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ, England. E-mail— [email protected]

CAREER: Writer, historian, scholar, and educator. College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY, visiting assistant professor of English, 1979-80; Kenyon College, Gambier, OH, assistant professor, 1980-87, associate professor of English, 1987-92; University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, England, lecturer, 1992-2004, senior lecturer in English, 2004—.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 1996-97; Audrey Lumsden Kouvel fellow, Newberry Library, 1996-97; Exeter University Research Committee grant, 1999; British Academy Overseas Conference Grant, 2005.


Milton and the Natural World: Science and Poetry in “Paradise Lost,” Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Contributor to Milton and the Ends of Time: Essays on the Apocalypse and the Millennium, edited by Juliet Cummins, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2003, and A Concise Companion to Milton, edited by Angelica Duran, Blackwell, 2006.

SIDELIGHTS: Karen L. Edwards is a senior lecturer in English at the University of Exeter in England. Her academic interests include Renaissance literature, the works of poet John Milton, and the confluence of natural history and literature. In Milton and the Natural World: Science and Poetry in “Paradise Lost,” Edwards explores in depth “the full extent of Milton’s debt and contribution to experimental science in the seventeenth century and, in particular, to his imaginative and creative engagements with the natural world,” noted Jayne Archer in the Renaissance Journal. Milton, according to Edwards, would have considered it his duty as a writer and intellectual to be conversant with all the learning of his time, even that which was being discredited and that which was still considered speculative. Edwards considers how this knowledge was synthesized by Milton and how it appeared within the passages of Paradise Lost. Reviewer Peter Harrison, writing in Metascience, noted that “it is the central thesis of this book that John Milton’s masterpiece [Paradise Lost] provides evidence of its author’s familiarity with current trends in natural history and of his willingness to press them into the service of his epic vision.” In addition to addressing Milton’s knowledge of science and his use of that knowledge in the creation of his literary works, Edwards’s book also “gives a useful account of the state of natural history during the middle decades of the seventeenth century, presented in a style that is both informative and entertaining,” Harrison noted.

“This is an important book, full of new scholarly information and cherished ideas,” commented Sara Van Den Berg in the Renaissance Quarterly.“In its own terms... it succeeds brilliantly, not only joining but also greatly expanding upon other reevaluations of Milton’s naturalism and materialism,” stated Catherine Gimelli Martin in Modern Philology.“Karen Edwards’ close readings of passages from Paradise Lost are clearly informed by years of research and teaching. The book is beautifully written, too, with fresh ideas vividly expressed on every page,” Van Den Berg remarked. “Written with grace and clarity, Edwards’s work is an education for the twenty-first-century reader,” Archer concluded.



Metascience, March, 2002, Peter Harrison, “John Milton, Scientist,” review of Milton and the Natural World: Science and Poetry in “Paradise Lost.”

Modern Philology, November, 2001, Catherine Gimelli Martin, review of Milton and the Natural World, p. 299.

Renaissance Journal, June, 2001, Jayne Archer, review of Milton and the Natural World.

Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 2003, Sara Van Den Berg, review of Milton and the Natural World, p. 250.*