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BAND, Digital Humanities

Instagram as Archive: Blake and Digital Art Culture

Exciting news: the William Blake Archive now has an Instagram. This additional platform will enable Blake’s materials to reach new audiences through a primarily visual application, bringing decades of digital archival work into the pocket-sized cellular devices of over one billion active monthly users worldwide. Both known for ease of access and for interweaving the visual with the textual, Instagram and the William Blake Archive are a natural fit for one another.

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The History of Hell

Hell’s Printing Press, the blog of The Blake Archive and Blake Quarterly, is more than a decade old at this point, so it isn’t surprising that the hyperlinks found in the oldest entries don’t always work. To make the blog as user-friendly as possible I decided that it would make for a worthwhile winter break project to go through the old entries and fix or update as many broken links as can feasibly be fixed or updated.

Like any good editor, I’ve been conscientious about what kind of changes I’ve made and followed a strict policy of “when in doubt, don’t touch it!” Out of respect for authorial integrity, I don’t want any posts to link to anything categorically different from what the original authors intended to link to, even if it might seem to me to fulfill a similar purpose.

To put it another way, I don’t want to do anything that might make it look like someone from the future came in and meddled with the old posts. However, I do feel strongly that if you’re reading an old post which contains links to sites and pages that are still extant, you ought to be able to link to the extant versions of those sites and pages even if the url has changed at some point in the last decade.

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Visual Poetics & Blake’s Afterlife: Florine Stettheimer

New York saloniste Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944) was born nearly fifty years after William Blake’s death. Yet this wealthy American woman produced a body of artworks that bear remarkable resemblances to Blake’s illustrations. The two share many qualities: both were equal parts poet and visual artist, both produced works with highly idiosyncratic pictorial styles, and both had reputations as unconventional individuals. Continue reading
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The Artist, the Poet, and the Proofreader

The relationship between vivid, poetic language and visual art has always intrigued me. As an undergrad, I majored in studio art and English, and naturally see the two creative disciplines as more alike than they are different. Coming from this interdisciplinary perspective, I’m fascinated with Blake’s unique body of work but was surprised to find that, until the late 20th century, research on Blake was generally divided between art history and literary studies (“Plan of the Archive”).

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BAND, XML

A Few (Small) Hiccups with the Receipts

It’s been a while since the last update on the “Receipts Project,” and so I thought I’d share a quick summary of what we’re up to with these strange scraps of paper, which throw up the most unexpected of challenges despite their modest size. As the receipts are scheduled for publication early next year, we’re currently at the stage of proofing and revision, and trying to deal with the following issues:

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What I learned from Blake’s account of the Scofield Incident

Transcribing and proofing literary work for digital publication can be a lot like translating. You get to know the content far better than you would from even an extremely slow and careful reading, because you’ve seen every sentence so many times. This was the experience I had several years ago when learning to translate Dostoevsky’s Хозяйка (The Landlady) for my language exam, and it was the experience I had this spring and summer while proofing a new batch of Blake letters for eventual publication. Throughout this process, William Blake’s August 16th 1803 letter to Thomas Butts became a particular favorite of mine (Find the complete text here: http://erdman.blakearchive.org/#b15).

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The Diffusion of Blake Letters

The Blake Archive Northern Division has been hard at work transcribing and proofing the next installment of Blake letters for eventual publication, hopefully within the next year. There are currently 53 letters in the Blake Archive, and this next batch will contain another 28. These two batches comprise all of the Blake letters for which we have the images in our possession. This naturally raises the question, what other letters are out there for which we might be interested in obtaining images? I recently spent some time investigating the matter to figure out how many other Blake letters there are and where those letters are located.

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BAND, Digital Humanities

From William Seward to William Blake—and Back Again: Lessons Learned from the William Blake Archive

As part of my duties as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Digital Humanities, I am required to serve as a Research Assistant for one of the many digital humanities projects at the University of Rochester. I was drawn to the William Blake Archive for several reasons. First, the Archive is a foundational DH project. Its depth and multi-institutional workflow serve as a model for onlookers hoping to recreate a successful digital collaboration. Selfishly though, I was also drawn to the William Blake Archive with an intent to gain more experience in XML, TEI, and digital-documentary editing. I hoped to adapt elements of the William Blake Archive for a more recent digital project ongoing at the University of Rochester, the Seward Family Digital Archive.

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