Slack Update

In the fall, BAND (our group in Rochester) decided to try out the Slack app. Growing group numbers and...

Dante giveaway

Last October we gave away a reproduction print, but we weren’t done there. To continue our celebration of volume 50 of the...

Little Boys Lost

A few years ago I was having drinks with someone I had recently met through an interdisciplinary research/reading group...

To-dos

I’ve more or less finished the Blake Quarterly winter issue and will be publishing it next week. The months...

William Blake Archive: Redesigned

In collaboration with UNC Libraries and ITS Research Computing, the William Blake Archive is launching on 12 December 2016...
BAND
Slack Update
Blake Quarterly
Dante giveaway
BATS, Digital Humanities
Little Boys Lost
Blake Quarterly
To-dos
Publications
William Blake Archive: Redesigned
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About Us

 

Welcome to our blog!

 

This is the collaborative blog for the William Blake Archive and Blake/ An Illustrated Quarterly, wherein we discuss recent and upcoming projects, digital humanities, and William Blake.

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BAND

Slack Update

In the fall, BAND (our group in Rochester) decided to try out the Slack app.

Growing group numbers and starting more complicated and diverse projects led us to try out a communication platform that was built to handle such dynamic work environments. It was/is an experiment, and I promised to check back after a semester to reflect on how the experiment was going. Here’s my report:

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BATS, Digital Humanities

Little Boys Lost

A few years ago I was having drinks with someone I had recently met through an interdisciplinary research/reading group at the University of North Carolina. He was a geneticist. In the course of our conversation he confided that he no longer read books, especially those books having to do with literature. Since everything reduced to genetic coding, which revealed itself in its own inscrutable (to me, even though he tried to explain it) language, all macrocosmic products of human artistry were epiphenomenal, superfluous. We were just humming flesh lumps elaborately but programmatically spun out from inherited scripts. He stared hard into his ice cubes as he said this. I’d quote him, but I can’t remember his exact words.

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Blake Quarterly

To-dos

I’ve more or less finished the Blake Quarterly winter issue and will be publishing it next week. The months ahead are traditionally good to me, as the centerpiece of our spring issue is the sales review by Bob Essick, which is a dream to edit. When I’m working on an issue I’m usually focused on the contents and on getting it out on time, to the exclusion of all but basic journal housekeeping tasks, such as updating IP addresses for institutional subscriptions or sending renewal reminders to individual subscribers.  The prospect of a few easier months, however, has my thoughts turning to two small but potentially insidious words: special project.

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Publications

William Blake Archive: Redesigned

In collaboration with UNC Libraries and ITS Research Computing, the William Blake Archive is launching on 12 December 2016 a complete and transformative redesign of its website. This new site, www.blakearchive.org, retains all of the features of the previous site, which had become so indispensable to Blake scholars, and offers vast improvements, making it easier than ever for educators and scholars to access and study Blake’s inimitable works.

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BAND, XML

Do we know what we’re estimating?

One of many things that working on the separate plates has gotten me thinking about is how we conceptualize units of space. Doing the textual transcriptions for the separate plates requires that we use a lot of <space/> and <vspace/> tags. Inside these elements, we use the attribute “extent=” to describe the size of the space. The difficulty of this is that I never feel like I have any idea what it is we’re counting. It seems like the standard instruction in the matter is to put down a rough guess and wait until it’s up on the testing site to ensure the accuracy of the number. This makes sense, but it would seem that even to put in a rough guess a person would need to have some idea what the unit is. Consulting the “Filling out an XML BAD File” on the WIP site doesn’t provide any help in the matter.

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BAND

A Newbie Learns to Read Blake

Since this is my first semester working with the Blake Archive—and all of my previous interaction with Blake’s work has consisted of reading his poems in relative isolation in my house—my main concern has been trying to understand Blake’s handwriting and figure out how the XML tag set works. More specifically, I have been trying to identify the places in the text where Blake scribbles over words or crosses them out. In some instances, the word underneath may be legible, but as a newcomer to reading Blake’s original manuscripts, I have trouble asserting anything with authority. Similarly, it has been difficult deciphering the way in which Blake renders some individual letters. For example, his “s” often looks like an “f” and his periods sometimes look like commas. I realize that recognizing things quickly is an issue of experience, and I do find that copyediting the XML against the original images of the letters is very helpful. The process of working backwards—looking at the XML, then the handwriting—seems far more useful than trying to look at the letter and blindly translate Blake’s handwriting.

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Blake Quarterly

Throwing Out and Linking In

A tension between Morris and me (more of a comic routine, really) is that I’m always throwing out things in which he sees value. By value, I mean value for posterity. For instance, this summer I purged the filing cabinet in my office of files for some old Blake Quarterly issues, much to his dismay. We joke that at least I don’t work in rare books (The Gutenberg Bible? That old thing? I put it in the bin last week).

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BAND, XML

The Problem of Metamarks

This semester we’re looking at some of the unique features of the Blake marginalia, and some of the challenges of representing them accurately with TEI elements. One element we’re considering is <metamark>. But what exactly is a metamark?

This is how it’s described on the main website, which is frequently repeated elsewhere online:

<metamark> contains or describes any kind of graphic or written signal within a document the function of which is to determine how it should be read rather than forming part of the actual content of the document.

Note the extreme ambiguity of this description, e.g. about what the ‘it’ actually means. The metamark is a graphic or signal which is supposed to determine how it should be read — ‘it’, meaning of course not the metamark but the document, in which you find the metamark. Not that this brief description gives any indication as to what limits or bounds that ‘document’ or what kind of scope it has for telling the reader how this document (the paragraph, the page, the chapter?) should be read.

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BATS, XML

Sisyphus and Consistency

My recent projects as Editorial Assistant at the William Blake Archive have shared a mission: to ensure the consistency of the Archive’s text. My last project was to go through the Blake Archive Documents (BADs) and capitalize the C’s, P’s, and O’s in the words “Copy,” “Plate,” and “Object” (and their plurals) whenever they refer to specific copies, plates, or objects. My current project is to enter Bob Essick’s revisions to the lists of related works for each object, so that when the redesigned Archive is unveiled, it will have the most comprehensive, accurate, and consistent information possible.

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