English 250

Research Seminar: William Blake

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2008 Goldsmith, Steven
Goldsmith, Steven
W 3-6 108 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Ackroyd, P.: Blake: A Biography Erdman, D., ed.: The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake Johnson, M. and Grant, J., eds.: Blake?s Poetry and Designs Oe, K.: Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age For in this Period the Poets Work is Done: and all the Great Events of Time start forth & are concievd in such a Period? Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery.


What does Blake mean by ?the Poets Work,? and how can that work be achieved ?Within a Moment? that has the length of a historical ?Period? but is also as brief as ?a Pulsation of the Artery?? We will read enough of Blake?s poetry to let us grapple with the questions raised by his last illuminated epics, Milton and Jerusalem, but we will also use our readings to interrogate the relationship between poetic and other forms of labor, especially artisanal and political labor. We will set Blake?s singular aesthetic practices within the relevant contexts of his own era (1790s radicalism, 18th century religious dissent, transatlantic sentimentalism and social reform, Romantic period economies of book and print production) while also considering our own critical contexts, where Blake has come to stand for critical agency itself and thus for the transformative potential of experimental art. Attention to the posthumous work of poetry?what Derrida generally calls teleiopoesis?will lead us to ask why Blake matters to new historicists and new formalists alike, and why the Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe turns a reading of Blake into the organizing activity of his novel Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age.

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