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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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).Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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
In the six months since my last blog post, I have continued working through Adam McCune’s wordlists to check for misspellings in Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly. I have moved from lowercase to uppercase, from s-z to S-Z. I’m about 60% through the second list, and have been training with Katherine Calvin to work on image markup next, a process which Adam Engel has described in a previous post. My time spent sporadically drifting between issues, my editorial swerve guided by individual words, is coming to an end (at least for now). But as I move away from this task, I would be remiss if I did not mention how much I have learned in the process of wandering through the randomness of single-occurrence words.Continue reading
Working for the William Blake Archive has been exceptionally exciting this semester. Two major project teams are striving to arrive at a better understanding of how to encode some of Blake’s least audience-friendly works: The Four Zoas and his marginalia. The process of approaching these works has required patience, and for every successful moment there have been multiple failures. But these failures are not meaningless, or at least I like to think so. My recent encoding attempts of Blake’s marginalia have not been used by the team as a model of what to do. Quite the opposite, my encoding attempts have consistently been used by the team as examples of what we want to avoid, and I think that’s useful.Continue reading
It’s no secret, given Mike’s recent preview of the technical summary and tweets like this
— Alan Liu (@alanyliu) February 10, 2016
that the Blake Archive is undergoing a top-to-bottom cosmetic and structural redesign, the kind that takes thousands of hours and elicits oohs and aahs when it’s revealed.Continue reading
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
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.