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ND prof. honored by society

Amanda Gray | Friday, November 5, 2010

Professor Stephen Fallon said he has devoted 36 years to the study of the works of English poet John Milton.

Fallon, who teaches in the Program of Liberal Studies and English department, was recently awarded the Milton Society of America’s Honored Scholar Award for 2011.He said this lifetime achievement award for his work with Milton caught him off guard.

“I was completely surprised,” he said.

Fallon said the Milton Society of America assembles a committee who the looks at Milton scholars before selecting the candidate they think most deserves the award. The program started giving the Honored Scholar Award in 1948 with notable recipients including C. S. Lewis, Stanley Fish and Barbara Lewlaski.

In a University press release, Professor John Sitter, chair of Notre Dame’s English department, said the Honored Scholar Award was the equivalent to Nobel Prize for “Miltonists.”

“[Milton] is an extraordinary writer,” Fallon said. “His poetry is breathtakingly beautiful.”

Milton, who lived in the 17th Century, focused on philosophy, religion and natural philosophy — the equivalent to today’s sciences, Fallon said.

“I started reading Milton closely as a sophomore in college,” he said. “As a junior I knew I wanted to study him as my research.”

Fallon wrote two books on Milton and published many articles as well as co-editing an edition of Milton’s famed poem “Paradise Lost.”

“He was a person of great historical focus and courage,” Fallon said. “He put his life on the line for his work and he was living in a very tumultuous time.”

Fallon currently teaches a graduate class on Milton and will be teaching an additional course on Milton and Shakespeare next semester.

“When I started out in this profession, I knew I wanted to teach. I love teaching,” he said. “But I also wanted to reach a point where I could influence the way Milton is taught and read. Receiving the award is a visible sign that what I write about Milton has reached a point among my peers and what I write has influence the way Milton is taught.”

As a part of the award, Fallon will be giving an address at the Milton Society of America’s annual meeting, held in Los Angeles this year. Fallon said his topic is about Milton and contradiction.

“I’m grateful to Notre Dame for a place where I can do my scholarship and teach,” he said. “There are great research resources — and great students.”