A shift in gaze has occurred in the study of the early modern period, one which has begun to examine the Western world in a more global and comprehensive context. This shift has been extensively written upon with regards to a historical consideration by researchers like Nabil Matar, Jeremy Brotton, Gerald MacLean, and others. This “re-orientation”, as MacLean calls it, has extended itself into the realm of literature studies, though Shakespeare and his works have been the focus of much of the scholarship circulating today. While the Bard has much to tell us, in the spirit of this expansion my thesis will focus on the work of another early modernist: poet, activist, and scholar John Milton. Utilizing both the knowledge provided by historicist scholars for contextualization and the critical apparatus of scholars like Gil Anidjar and Daniel Vitkus as a framework, my thesis will work to examine the possibility of the Islamic holy text, the Qur’an, as an influence for Milton. Focusing on the text of Samson Agonistes as a site for this influence and interaction, it will be my intention to deconstruct specific passages from Milton’s text and verses from the Qur’an in order to expose a thematic and dialectic connection between these two seemingly incongruous corpi. I will accomplish this through a careful deconstruction of elements of monotheistic religious violence and political theology as well as an examination of the inclusion or exclusion of certain events, people, or themes in Milton’s text which deviate from their Judeo-Christian origins. Finally, I will discuss the early modern Christians’ historical fear of Islamic conversion and conquer alongside an examination of Samson’s destruction of the Philistine temple in the context of political theology, in an attempt at elucidating the link between this historical fear of “turning Turk” and the supposed justification for violence against an ideological other that drives Samson towards his violent and self-conclusive act. Through this research I intend to broaden the scope of Miltonic and early modern literature studies in the hopes of creating a more global and considerate understanding of Milton’s texts.


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Thesis Completion





Gleyzon, Francois-Xavier


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities




Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis