Public lecture by Professor Catherine Belsey

Professor Catherine Belsey Milton’s Ghost Story This lecture will engage anyone interested in literature, history, cultural history or philosophy.

Event date: Wednesday, 4 March 2015 at 5.00 PM


Professor Catherine Belsey




University of Derby, Kedleston Road site, Derby Campus, DE22 1GB


Lecture Theatre OL1

About the event:

The author of Paradise Lost is not known for ghost stories, but Milton’s poignant sonnet on the apparition of his dead wife coincides with a major rehabilitation of ghosts in the 1650s and beyond. Although Enlightenment rationalism was busy discrediting the supernatural, ghosts fought back under the slogan, ‘no spirit, no God’.

Any number of stories about the return of dead relatives at the time revolved around the nature of ghosts — how they looked, what they did, what they were. Perhaps the death of loved ones takes us into territory reason can’t acknowledge. On the other hand, the possibility arises that grief for his wife is not the only theme of Milton’s short poem. Does it, after all, centre on another loss entirely?

About the speaker:

Professor Belsey is a hugely influential scholar and inspirational speaker - her books include Critical Practice (1980/2002), The Subject of Tragedy (1985), John Milton: Language, Gender, Power (1988), Desire: Love Stories in Western Culture (1994), Shakespeare and the Loss of Eden (1999), Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (2002), Culture and the Real (2005), Why Shakespeare? (2007), Shakespeare in Theory and Practice (2008) and A Future for Criticism (2011).

For more information on the lecture, please contact Dr Robin Sims, Programme Leader for English on 01332 591874 or email