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BATS

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.

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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.
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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.

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BATS, XML

Is That a Rock or a Severed Head? Creating Textual Tags for Blake’s Pen and Ink Drawings

The William Blake Archive recently published seventeen pen and ink drawings by Blake that span the majority of his artistic career. As one of the art historians on staff at the WBA, I was tasked with the responsibility of creating XML documents to accompany each of the works—files that we call Blake Archive Documents or BADs. These BADs are incredibly important as they include not only textual descriptions of the drawings but also tagged search terms, which enable the new drawings to be plugged into the existing search function of the WBA.

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