Renee Peggs | January 12, 2017
Laura Knoppers, a professor in Notre Dame’s Department of English, has been named the Honored Scholar of the Year for 2016 by the Milton Society of America.
Recognizing lifetime achievement in the field of Milton studies, the award places Knoppers among an elite group of the world’s top Miltonists.
“It’s very gratifying and quite an honor to receive this award, especially as it recognizes not just a single book or group of essays but an overall contribution to shaping the field,” Knoppers said.
She is the second faculty member in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters to receive the award. Stephen Fallon, a professor in the Program of Liberal Studies and the Department of English, was named an Honored Scholar in 2010.
Knoppers’ outstanding contributions to the field of Milton studies began with her first book, Historicizing Milton: Spectacle, Power, and Poetry in Restoration England, published in 1994.
Up to that point, scholars had long regarded Milton as belonging philosophically to the earlier 17th century, a relic in the Restoration who turned away from politics to focus on a paradise within.
Historicizing Milton changed that—showing how Milton’s major poems respond specifically and powerfully to royalist spectacles at the beginning of the Restoration Era. Knoppers showed new links between Milton’s political prose and his poetry, demonstrating how literature can be actively shaped by, and in turn shape, current history.