English 422M: William Blake's Illuminated Poetry
May 1999

Dr. J. H. Jones
Office: 110 SC
Office Hours: M-F: 12:00-1:00 and by appointment.
Phone: 782-5537
E-mail: jhjones@jsucc.jsu.edu

I. Course Description:

This course will examine both the poetry and accompanying illustrations of William Blake's composite art as they appear in both conventional printed sources and newly created on-line archives.

II. Objectives:

William Blake (1757-1827) has been variously described as a visionary, mystic, rebel, iconoclast, and even, as the famous nineteenth-century literary critic Leigh Hunt did, "an unfortunate lunatic."  Little known in his day, Blake developed poetry, art, and ideas that put him at odds with his contemporaries but which have grown in appreciation ever since.  What makes Blake so unique is that he combines ideas and media in startling and challenging ways.  Nowhere do these combinations become more apparent than in his illuminated poetry--the works that Blake wrote, illustrated, engraved, and printed himself.  This course will study Blake's poetry as he produced it, complete with illustrations, including those found in the on-line Blake Archive.  (See other useful links below.)  Among the topics we will consider include Blake's printmaking process, the juxtaposition of image and text, the unusual dissemination of his work, his opposition to his fellow engravers, artists, and poets, and his philosophies of art and life.

III. Requirements and evaluation:

A. Class attendance:
English Department attendance policy requires students to attend 75% of all class meetings. This policy begins on the first day of class. Since students who arrive late to class are marked absent, they must notify the instructor of their attendance at the end the class. A student may make up a missed examination only if the absence is excused. Work should be made up as soon as possible. Journal collections may not be made up. Forms for excused absences can be obtained from 228 SC and should be accompanied by other documentation.

B. Class requirements:
1. Two typed double-spaced research essays.  For the first essay, choose one of Blake's illuminated works listed on the syllabus in the first half of the term and, in approximately 4 pages, analyze a particular aspect of that work.  The second essay will extend that analysis to approximately 8 pages by including an illuminated work listed on the syllabus in the second half of the semester.  Both essays should take into account the illustrations and multiple versions (if applicable) of each work.  Many of the useful sources for your research are on reserve in the Houston Cole Library.  For manuscript mechanics, refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.  Papers are due at the beginning of class on the date they are due. Any paper turned in late will be penalized heavily (20% for the first essay; 25% for the second essay).

2. A mid-term examination (20%).

3. A final examination (25%).

4. A reading journal.  For each reading assignment, choose one plate that contains both text and illustration, and in two to three full paragraphs, discuss how the two aspects of Blake's art function together on that page.  Journals will be collected and evaluated periodically, so they should be brought to each class meeting. A student who misses a class when journals are collected and has an acceptable excuse will not be penalized (10%).

C. Grading: A, B, C, D, F.

IV. Texts:

A. Blake, William.  The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake.  Ed. David V. Erdman.  New York: Doubleday, 1988.

B. Blake, William.  The Illuminated Blake.  Annotated by David V. Erdman.  New York: Dover, 1992.

V. Disability Accommodations Statement:

Any individual who qualifies for reasonable accommodations under The Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 should contact the instructor immediately.
VI. Tentative Course Schedule*:

4 May: Introduction.
5 May: Last day to register or add a course.  All Religions Are One, There Is No Natural Religion [a-b], The Book of Thel.
6 May: Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
7 May: Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

10 May: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
11 May: Visions of the Daughters of Albion.
12 May: America a Prophecy.
13 MayFIRST ESSAY DUE.  Europe a Prophecy.

17 May: The [First] Book of Urizen, The Book of Ahania, The Book of Los, The Song of Los.
18 May:  Last day to drop without academic penaltyThe [First] Book of Urizen, The Book of Ahania, The Book of Los, The Song of Los.
19 May: Milton.
20 May: Milton.
21 May:  Milton.

24 May: Jerusalem.
25 May: Last day to drop passing or withdraw.  Jerusalem.
26 May:  Jerusalem.
27 MaySECOND ESSAY DUE.  Jerusalem.

*This schedule is subject to change either to tailor the course to meet the specific needs of this particular class or to accommodate extenuating circumstances. Students will be notified of changes in advanced.


Other Useful Links:
On-line Blake Concordance: Locate any word or phrase in Blake's works.  A most valuable resource.
Union College Blake Page: Good background information, especially on Blake's printing process.  Many other links included.
National Gallery of Victoria Exhibit: Now showing.

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