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Blake’s Afterlife: Howard Finster, the Backwoods Blake

About one-hundred miles north of Atlanta, a colorful, otherworldly folk art environment stands in Summerville, Georgia. Self-taught artist Howard Finster (1916-2001) began work on his Paradise Garden in 1961, using materials such as glass, concrete, and discarded objects to create six sacred buildings. Today, the site remains as a monument to Finster’s prolific life, religious fervor, and distinctive artworks.

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BAND, Digital Humanities

Insights from a Doubly Digital Humanist

This semester I enrolled in a course entitled “Digital History: Historical Worlds, Virtual Worlds, Virtual Museums”— thoroughly intrigued by the course’s description which promised to teach me to “harness emerging technologies to educate the public about the past.” It seemed familiar, yet distant enough from my existing skill set to be rewarding.

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BAND, Digital Humanities, XML

Songs of Innocent XML

The top of the XML tree for William Blake, An Island in the Moon, Copy 1 (1784–85), page 1, www.blakearchive.org/bad/bb74.1.xml.

One of my responsibilities as an Andrew W. Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow at the University of Rochester is contributing to an established digital humanities project. For that reason, I am the newest member of the Blake Archive North Division team. While I do not have a background in William Blake’s works or those of his contemporaries, I study U.S. religious and cultural history, so Blake’s talk of a unity in religion and his flirtation with Swedenborg’s tiered heaven echo what I’ve read in American sources. Blake’s visions are wild and, unlike many religious innovators, he actually drew and painted them.

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BAND

Color-to-Character Relationships in America a Prophecy

In a departure from my previous investigation into Blake’s use of color, which focused on brightness and change over time, I have here considered the possible relationships between the mythological characters and the overall palette of a copy. For this project, I’ve focused on copies A, M, and O of America a Prophecy, looking at the depictions of the characters Urizen, Orc, and Albion.

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BAND

Why the Magnifying Glass is Awesome!

While we were working our way through proofing the new batch of Blake’s letters a few months back, I had a better chance that I had ever had before to learn just how useful the magnifying glass can be.

The testing site is pretty much identical to the public site, so like the public site it has the magnifying glass which made it possible to take a magnified look at objects during proofing. This came in handy when trying to make important calls about questionable letters.

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BAND

Evaluating Color in Heaven and Hell

Majoring in both English Literature and Computational Linguistics and enrolling in Linear Algebra for my personal pleasure, my undergraduate career is best described as idiosyncratic. Creating a project through the Blake Archive presented me with an abundance of options at the intersection of my two major fields but I decided to experiment with a realm I am less than familiar with: color theory.

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BAND

Songs of Instruments and Entrancement: BAND’s Summer Hits

With a hearty batch of letters now up on the site and just a few remaining weeks of summer stretching before us, BAND has eased into a temporary state of repose. Our office is a little quieter, our meetings are a little shorter, and our work schedules— briefly unhindered by semester stressors and publication deadlines— allow for longer gazes outside the office window and, if we’re emboldened by our beloved office neighbor’s closed door, music.

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BAND

How to say that a work lacks binding

At the William Blake Archive, we rely heavily on precedent when making important editorial decisions. In other words, when unsure what to do about a certain metadata field or how to deal with something unusual in the textual transcription for a given work, we check to see what we did in similar situations in previously published works.

For example, when working on Blake’s letters, I needed a review on how to handle the textual transcription for lines with lots of cross-outs and overwrites.

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BAND, Digital Humanities

A Watermark Mystery

Sometimes in archival work, you find yourself on these “side quests,” tracking down a paradoxically indispensable yet trivial bit of information. Such a quest came up after the last round of receipt proofing. A member of the Archive noticed that a handful of the receipts had watermarks with a range of visibility. Receipt number 26 had a particularly faint watermark that evaded straightforward identification. As this information—when present—is typically included in the publications, it was necessary to figure out if this watermark was visible enough to describe.

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