English 250

Research Seminar: William Blake

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2005 Goldsmith, Steven
Goldsmith, Steven
M 3-6 202 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Erdman, D., ed.: The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake; Ackroyd, P.: Blake: A Biography; 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 conceived in such a Period-- Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery.

What does Blake mean by ""the Poets Work,"" achieved ""Within a Moment"" that is also a ""Period""? To take up this question, we will read enough of Blake's poetry to let us grapple with one or both of his late illuminated epics: Milton and Jerusalem. But we will also use our study of Blake to interrogate the relationship between poetic and other forms of labor, especially artisanal and political labor. We will try to set Blake's singular aesthetic practices within two relevant contexts: his own (1790s radicalism, 18th-century religious dissent, Romantic era economies of book and print production) and ours, where Blake has come to stand for critical agency itself and thus for the political potential of poetry. 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 or how Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe challenges our understanding of literary history when he makes reading Blake the organizing activity of : Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age, the title of which, like my epigraph above on poetic labor and time, comes from Blake's : Milton. "

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