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Name: Elizabeth Cook

PhD: English Literature

Thesis Title: ‘Conceptualising Paradise: Seventeenth Century Ecology and the Adaptation of Genre in the Works of John Milton’

Thesis Description:

My thesis aims to expand upon the existing body of work in the field of 'green Milton studies' through a exploration of the various genres that link to the concept of a human 'longing for Paradise' or 'longing for a return to Eden' in his works; chiefly, Paradise Lost and Lycidas. It aims to argue that Milton exhibits a definite 'ecological consciousness' in these works, and that this can be seen both in his use of more traditional contemporary genres such as the pastoral, but also far older traditions, including classical and the medieval dream-vision genre. It will conduct an exploration of the history of the concept of the human longing for or return to paradise (as in Christian tradition), or, as in older genres such as classical - the Elysian Fields, for example - and how each of these is at play in Milton's work. It will argue that Milton's skilful re-working and adaptation of these genres serves to highlight his status as a both poet driven by this longing and one who exhibits an 'ecological consciousness' inspired by his own historical and environmental context.

Supervisors and Institution(s):

Dr. Hugh Adlington, University of Birmingham

Dr. Joe Wallace, University of Birmingham

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities

  • Member of E-COST Action Group 'Oceans Past Platform' Working Group 4 as of January 2016


  • Joint organiser of upcoming Birmingham Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS) Annual Conference: 'Green Britain: Nationhood and the Environment 1500-1750' (25 June 2016)


Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Role:
Seminar tutor, first year Poetry module, University of Birmingham

Conference Papers


  • Society for Renaissance Studies Biennial Conference, 19th-20th July 2016

          ‘Contextualising the Early Modern Leviathan’


  • Oceans Past Platform Working Groups 2 and 4 Workshop, European Cetacean Society Conference, Universo de Memorias, Madeira, 13th March 2016

         ‘Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Early Modern Sea Mammal’


  • ‘Underwater Worlds: Aquatic Visions in Art, Science and Literature’, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), 15-16 September 2015

          ‘Contextualising the Early Modern Leviathan’

  • ‘Green Knowledge’: Association for Literature and the Environment (UK & Ireland) Biennial Conference, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, 2-4 September 2015

          ‘Knowing the Garden: Finding our Roots in John Milton’s Eden’


  • Perspectives on Non-Human Bodies: Regulating and Contemplating the Vulnerable, Law School, University of Birmingham, November 2014

    ‘The Role of Literature in Human-Animal Relations’

  • Literature and Conflict: English Graduate Conference, University of Birmingham, 20th June 2014

    ‘The Conflict Between the Self and the Biosphere in Milton’s Paradise Lost’

Other Research Interests:

  • History of Animal Welfare
  • Environmental History
  • Historical Geography


Social Media Presence:

  • Twitter @Elizabeth_maryc
  • LinkedIn: Elizabeth Cook

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