Category

BATS

BATS

Teaching First-Year Composition with the William Blake Archive

I am happy to report that I have finished my last spellcheck list, and will be switching tasks to assist with image mark-up. Not an unwelcome “vicissitude,”

in the sense of the “Grateful vicissitude” of the perfectly-balanced changes from light to darkness that Milton describes in Paradise Lost. But I will miss the curiosities that I came across while checking Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly for spelling errors.

Continue reading
BATS

The Oxford Comma and the Rogue Apostrophe: Editorial Principles and Punctuation in the Blake Archive

The Oxford comma is having its moment in the spotlight in recent news, after it was used to clinch a legal case in favor of the five drivers in O’Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy who, according to the interpretation of policy in the absence of the comma, were therefore found to be eligible for overtime pay. And grammar geeks on the side of the Oxford comma have been rejoicing.

Continue reading
BATS

Blake’s Aniconic Arboreals

“What if God was one of us?” asks singer-songwriter Joan Osborne. It’s actually not that hard to imagine God as a person. Many are familiar with the image of God as the deity appears in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam: an old, imperious man with flowing hair and beard. For many raised in Judeo-Christian traditions, the portrayal of Alanis Morissette as God in the movie Dogma is as far from that image as the imagination strays. Beyond this narrow anthropomorphism, however, lie countless aniconic representations of divinity.

Continue reading
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.

Continue reading
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.

Continue reading
BATS

Preview of the Technical Summary for the Blake Archive’s New Site

The Blake Archive will soon be launching its new site, housed on UNC servers. Here is a preview of the site’s Technical Summary:

System Architecture and Basic Front-End Navigation

The new Blake Archive site does not use some of the technologies that the old site did, such as Java and ImageSizer, and the entire architecture of the old site’s web application has been replaced. The new application is divided into four parts: the site proper, meaning our archive of Blake’s works; a collection of back issues from Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly; our blog; and The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake edited by David Erdman.

Continue reading
BATS, Uncategorized

Teaching Blake in a Time of Trump

In addition to my position as a project assistant at the Blake Archive, I teach in the Art Department at UNC Chapel Hill. This fall I am teaching an advanced undergraduate course called “Art in an Age of Revolution” that surveys visual culture of Europe and the Americas from the middle of the eighteenth century to the July Revolution of 1830. From the beginning of the semester, I have encouraged my students to draw thematic connections between the historical material presented in class and contemporary discourse on revolution and politics at large. On Tuesday morning, with Sunday’s presidential debate still fresh in everyone’s minds, a class discussion that began with Blake’s designs for John Gabriel Stedman’s Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam grew into a debate on contemporary rhetoric about sexual consent and the intertwined issues of empathy and difference, particularly in relation to protests like the Black Lives Matter movement.

bb499.1.2.com.100 bb499.1.8.com.100

John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, 1796, object 2, “A Negro hung alive by the Ribs to a Gallows” (left) and object 8, “Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave” (right), William Blake Archive.
Continue reading
BATS, Digital Humanities

Subjective Image Processing?

In my role as Assistant Project Manager, I respond to the many requests for reproducing content from the William Blake Archive, of which the overwhelming majority are for images (a surprise to me). One of the most memorable request so far was a patron asking if he could screen-print one of the images on his home stereo cover. While this was a strange request and much different than the normal reproduction requests for publication, it tells us that the images in the archive contain a tremendous power outside of academic use. I wondered how I can locate that power.

Continue reading