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So then what happened?

Seven months ago I wrote a blog titled “Some Promising Forays into Transcribing Blake’s Marginalia.” Much has changed!

After months of grappling with the logistical and philosophical challenges involved in marginalia transcription, we now have what we think will be the actual marginalia tag-set moving forward (though to be sure, there are a few questions we’re saving for Blake Camp). 

As a follow up to the “Promising Forays” I want to provide a brief quasi-narrative description of how we got from point A to point B. 

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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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Bringing Together Team Color Code and Team Marginalia

Caught off guard by the fact that it’s my turn to write a blog post, I’ve decided to write about the recents attempts we’ve undertaken at BAND for a shotgun wedding between Team Color Code and Team Marginalia. It all started when the Marginalia people realized that, Blake’s annotations being what they were, it was extremely confusing to constantly differentiate between which words were part of the original typographic edition and which were Blake’s comments in an .xml document.

We thought it would be much less muddled if we could completely separate the typographic text and Blake’s hand in two distinct layers.For this purpose, TCC’s use of seemed useful, since it allows us to indicate multiple strata of writing in the same physical space. (For more on TCC’s use of – “Setting the stage, losing the line” http://www.19.bbk.ac.uk/articles/10.16995/ntn.728/) Unlike Blake’s letters and other manuscripts, The Four Zoas and the marginalia share another feature – the text is not written in one large block but in (sometimes) discrete chunks on various parts of the page. This favored the use of , so that we could separate out different comments based on where they are placed on the page.

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Lavater, p.118

So, to decide whether these two teams could harmoniously share these new tags, we had a meeting. It was crowded, loud and enthusiastic, and Morris and Anna couldn’t even fit inside the room. I think the whole department realized that something important was going on.The following are a couple of things we solved and some new problems we had as a result.

Eric suggested that since TM’s use of was significantly different, we could use and to designate the two kinds of text. This works wonders, since now we have a better way of identifying the stages than the vague and . But, as Eric also pointed out, in order to use the term, we would have to be consistent with TCC”s use . Thus, if Blake crossed out a line of annotation and rewrote it, we would need an additional stage for that line. How would we fit that into the new TM schema? What would we even call it?

We decided that we would use for the typographic text in the first stage, and use the necessary zones (header, footer, right margin, left margin and textblock) depending on where the comments are placed in the annotation stage. While that worked well for most of the documents, Blake’s comments often crossed over zone boundaries and upset all our plans.

We’re still figuring out what to do next. As Shannon said, I’m under the oath of strictest secrecy to divulge our current plans, but I’m sure the next blog posts will reveal a little more of what we’re up to.

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Fuseli’s “Night Mare” in Tweets: Social Media, Academic Circles, and the Public-Facing Projects of WBA and BIQ

“Oh dear – a night mare,” the tweet read. A familiar image popped up on my Twitter feed just the other day, of an engraving of Henry Fuseli’s “The Night Mare” (1795), referencing the Blake Archive Twitter account and shared from a 2008 issue of the Blake Illustrated Quarterly (BIQ) by Anke Timmermann, historian of medieval and early modern alchemy, medicine, and science, former Munby Fellow at Cambridge University Library (2013/14), and antiquarian bookseller at Bernard Quaritch Ltd.

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Marks of weakness: Marginalia and Comments 

Since I’ve just joined Team Marginalia, Laura said it might be useful for me to take a look at a few books and articles that discuss marginalia in general and Blake’s in particular. I’ve been browsing through them in the last couple of days and I thought others might find a few of their remarks about marginalia to be of interest. For instance, while Mark O’Connell’s article in the New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-marginal-obsession-with-marginalia) considers the reader’s collaborative engagement with other readers a fundamental affordance of marginalia, he also emphasizes the intimate nature of marginalia as writing – the private, often perhaps emotional conversation between book and reader that it might be indecent to peep into. Jason Snart on the other hand views Blake’s marginalia as disruptive. The “mark”  poses a challenge to the monolithic authority of the printed text, exposing its weakness and thereby opening it up for argument, discussion, appropriation and rejection (Jason Snart, The Torn Book 124). He focuses more on the competitive nature of marginalia rather than the qualities of affection  and intimacy. Here are examples of cases where Blake agrees vehemently with the author and where he equally vehemently disagrees:

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A Groundhog Summer

This summer, members of BAND have made serious headway on numerous projects. Receipts and letters have been transcribed and edited, many transcriptions have been proofread, provenance information has been collected, and Teams Marginalia and Color Code have been working to make guidelines for these projects as a whole.

As I wrap up my work with the Archive, I decided to deviate from posting specifically about my work, instead, choosing to write about a family of groundhogs living outside the window of the Archive Office. If you follow us on Twitter, you may have read Sarah’s posts about them in late May. Regardless, they provided much amusement for us working at the Archive over the summer. Sometimes, we’d take breaks to watch the young groundhogs playing, and on more than one occasion, we found ourselves looking up information about them online–in lieu of working on Blake…

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Some Promising Forays into Transcribing Blake’s Marginalia

Early last week Team Marginalia decided we were finally ready to develop a test tagset for transcribing Blake’s marginalia. We spent a lot of time trying out this new tagset using Blake’s annotated copy of J.C. Lavater’s Aphorisms on Man

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The above image is a pair of pages from Blake’s annotated copy of Aphorisms on Man. When we transcribe, we will be treating each page, not each pair of pages, as an object.

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BAND, Digital Humanities, Uncategorized

Why we should be talking more: office chat and DH

When I look back over many of the most recent blog posts—Rachel’s about how to use notes with a sense of audience, Oishani’s about Blake’s quirky punctuation, my own about the differences between red wax seals and wafers, and other posts from the past several months—I am not surprised to realize that many of these posts began in the William Blake Archive office as informal conversations about digital editing. I remember Oishani asking my input about how to encode a period under a superscript, and I recall spending the better part of an hour with Laura and Lisa discussing why and how we decide that a letter is sealed by wax or wafer. These conversations are illustrative of one of the greatest benefits of digital humanities projects: the opportunity to collaborate and work with a team of scholars from a variety of backgrounds.

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BAND, Uncategorized

Focusing on Audience: How Notes can Help!

Recently, Oishani posted about the different choices scholars have made in their transcriptions of the “quirky” punctuation in Blake’s receipts. Currently, the protocol has been to attach a note to the specific line of the transcription in which these punctuation discrepancies occur. However, as Oishani points out, though Bentley and Keynes do not treat punctuation systematically, we still have many nearly identical notes about minute differences in punctuation. What is the importance in noting these differences? Should we focus on punctuation in the receipts on a larger scale? Oishani ends her post asking us to consider if it would be more useful to have individual notes on each of the receipts, or to have a set of notes that covers the entire set of receipts and discusses recurring issues like punctuation in detail?

 

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Details, Disagreements, and Decisions

While finishing up work on a set of Blake’s letters from the Westminster Archives, I ran across a question that has made me a minor expert on a very minor piece of history: the difference between wafers and wax seals in nineteenth-century England. My curiosity about the difference in these two methods of sealing letters came about when I encountered the following seal on Blake’s Letter to Mr. Butts, 10 January 1802:

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