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Rethinking Teachability through the Esoteric Blake

Date published: 

July, 2016

In this essay, I reflect on how my experience of teaching William Blake’s Milton (comp. ca. 1804-1811) to graduate students was retrospectively transformed by reading Silvan Tomkins and Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics (1677) in a seminar that I subsequently taught on affect theory. Engaging with Spinoza’s and Tomkins’s respective writings on negative affects (such as shame and fear) and positive affects (such as joy) allowed me to discover in what I had been thinking of as a pedagogical failure an exciting pedagogical opportunity to rethink my unreflected assumptions about teaching and what constitutes teaching success. The key breakthrough came when, through a shift of perspective, I began to see that the shame and fear of not understanding Milton that my students (and on occasion, I) experienced was a version of the affective dramas, or “Mental Fight,” in Blake’s works and thus an essential aspect of the reading process rather than an obstacle to it.

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Blake’s Books and Digital Ecosystems

Date published: 

July, 2016

William Blake’s mastery of print media long presented a problem for readers of Blake who wished to experience the full range of his illuminated books. While The William Blake Archive offered a solution to access to the various copies, the formats for reading digital media have been too intrusive for conventional literary pedagogic experiences. As such, this paper explores the potential for a new generation of devices for opening up Blake’s works in a variety of ways and how that potential is itself affected by ecosystems and economic decisions that prevent easy, open access.

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Google Blake

Date published: 

July, 2016

This article outlines and models a simple web-browsing assignment and related research project designed to help students reflect critically on the propensity for William Blake’s illuminated books to break apart and circulate in pieces. The web-browsing assignment asks students to track how the present uses of a single Blake proverb call forth its potentials to mean different things, while the research project has them historicize some of those potentials. Together, the two assignments are designed to prompt classroom discussion of the ways that the semantic and situational instability of Blake’s proverbs might matter for thinking about the formal properties of the illuminated books as a medium, the culture that generated this medium, the cultures that continue to converge with it, and the complexity of the artistic project bound up with it.

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The Blake Society and Pedagogy Outside the Academy

Date published: 

July, 2016

This article explores what Blakean pedagogy can be through an examination of the United Kingdom’s Blake Society, a non-academic organization. The Blake Society works to promote greater recognition of William Blake’s life and activities but eschews the goals of scholarly knowledge production that often accompany academic Blake activities. Through an exploration of the Blake Society’s pedagogy, this article asks what resources and authority are necessary to do things with Blake.

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The Poems and the Books: Reading and Rereading Blake’s Songs

Date published: 

July, 2016

The first part of this essay suggests ways to teach the varying versions of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1794) in order to highlight different types of interpretive coherence as well as Blake’s idea of what a book is.  The second part of the essay considers the implications of teaching the Songs for what we might call a “Blakean pedagogy.”

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About this Volume

Date published: 

July, 2016

About this Volume

The present volume intervenes in the notion that pedagogy is of a secondary concern to Blake scholars by showing how William Blake’s work can invigorate the classroom. Contributors use Blake’s inspiration to create new teaching methodologies, propose new assignments, engage new public audiences, and critically explore the emergence of new technological modalities. Famously difficult, Blake nevertheless

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Blakean Textuality as Pedagogical Method

Date published: 

July, 2016

While many Blake scholars across several generations have drawn attention to the varied processes at play in the illuminated books, prophecy—the particular aspects of those unique textual objects designed to provide “instruction” by operating on readers—has never been fully brought into a unified framework. This essay seeks to do so. Gathering aspects of scholarship focused on textuality, readings grounded in reception dynamics, and psychoanalytic critical theories, the essay examines the Blakean work as pedagogical instrumentation, pursuing these concerns through The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790) and Milton (comp. ca. 1804-1811)—two enriched textual environments for tracing and unveiling such operations.

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Blakean Pedagogy: An Introduction to William Blake and Pedagogy

Date published: 

July, 2016

The present volume intervenes in the notion that pedagogy is of a secondary concern to Blake scholars by showing how William Blake’s work can invigorate the classroom. Contributors use Blake’s inspiration to create new teaching methodologies, propose new assignments, engage new public audiences, and critically explore the emergence of new technological modalities. Famously difficult, Blake nevertheless constructs crucial dialogues in fields from the digital humanities to manuscript history and affect theory. This volume shows how teachers can take advantage of his holistic approach to pedagogy—his insistence that teaching is entangled with every part of our lives—to contest standard approaches to Blake in the literature classroom.

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William Blake and Pedagogy

Date published: 

July, 2016

The present Romantic Circles Pedagogies volume intervenes in the notion that pedagogy is of a secondary concern to Blake scholars by showing how William Blake’s work can invigorate the classroom.  Contributors use Blake’s inspiration to create new teaching methodologies, propose new assignments, engage new public audiences, and critically explore the emergence of new technological modalities.  Famously difficult, Blake nevertheless constructs crucial dialogues in fields from the digital humanities to manuscript history and affect theory.  This volume shows how teachers can take advantage of his holistic approach to pedagogy—his insistence that teaching is entangled with every part of our lives—to contest standard approaches to Blake in the literature classroom.

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