Milton and the New Scientific Age represents significant advantages over all previous volumes on the subject of Milton and science, as it includes contributions from top scholars and prominent beginners in a broad number of fields. Most of these fields have long dominated work in both Milton and seventeenth-century studies, but they have previously not included the relatively new and revolutionary topic of early modern chemistry, physiology, and medicine. Previously this subject was confined to the history of science, with little if any attention to its literary development, even though it prominently appears in John Milton's Paradise Lost, which also includes early "science fiction" speculations on aliens ignored by most readers. Both of these oversights are corrected in this essay collection, while more traditional areas of research have been updated. They include Milton's relationship both to Bacon and the later or Royal Society Baconians, his views on astronomy, and his "vitalist" views on biology and cosmology. In treating these topics, our contributors are not mired in speculations about whether or not Milton was on the cutting edge of early science or science fiction, for, as nearly all of them show, the idea of a "cutting edge" is deeply anachronistic at a time when most scientists and scientific enthusiasts held both fully modern and backward-looking beliefs. By treating these combinations contextually, Milton's literary contributions to the "new science" are significantly clarified along with his many contemporary sources, all of which merit study in their own right.
Dr. Catherine Martin received her Ph.D at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Martin's chief interests lie in sixteenth and seventeenth century literature and philosophy, specializing particularly in the lyric, religious, and epic poetry of the period. Her first book on Paradise Lost won the Milton Society of America's James Holly Hanford Award, its highest honor. Her recent work on the latter two centers particularly on their French and Italian influences and connections. She has also published on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, although more extensively on John Donne and Francis Bacon. Forthcoming works will continue to revisit Bacon's legacy in both science (in this period better understood as empirical method in various arts) and in early science fiction. Last but hardly least, Dr. Martin teaches the writings of the "first feminists" who appeared in the seventeenth century and has edited an important essay collection entitled Milton and Gender (Cambridge, 2004)