The Cynic Sang: The (Un)Official Blog of the William Blake Archive

July 2, 2014

On This Day: 2 July

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , , , — Laura Whitebell @ 1:46 pm

I’ve always been a fan of those “On This Day” features you often see in newspapers and now online. This is probably picked up from my Dad who has a wonderful memory for dates and can usually be relied upon to find and remember the most random coincidences (for example, did you know that Kublai Khan and Bruce Springsteen share a birthday?). As we get ready for 4 July celebrations here in the US, I thought I’d spend this post thinking about today, a less remembered date but significant in its own way.

So here we go: On This Day, 2 July, the Battle of Marston Moor was fought, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific Ocean, a UFO crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, and Hermann Hesse celebrated his birthday. Also on 2 July (note that seamless transition), Blake wrote a letter to his patron and friend, George Cumberland. (more…)

June 18, 2014

“find Thee a friend”: Blake, Thomas Butts, and Patronage

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , , — Shannon Jaime @ 2:18 pm

In the past month, I’ve transitioned from working on Blake’s letters and begun transcribing and building the BAD for “The Phoenix,” a newly discovered work by Blake whose provenance is (most conveniently) recorded in Bentley’s Blake Books supplement, one of BAND’s go-to reference works. Written in various shades of colored ink (and in a careful, vastly neater hand than Blake’s normal handwriting), “The Phoenix” is a brief, charming piece of verse dedicated to Mrs. Elizabeth Butts, wife of Thomas Butts, a clerk in the office of Britain’s Commissionary General of Musters and one of Blake’s main patrons from the years 1794-1806. (more…)

June 11, 2014

A Transcription Puzzle: “then She bore Pale desire”, Part 3

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , , , — Andrea H. Everett @ 2:16 pm

In my last post, we were left wondering what the “P&S.” or “E&S.” written at the bottom of one of the “Pale desire” manuscript pages could mean.  (If you haven’t been keeping up, you can find the first and second installments of our saga here and here.)  Well, Sandy and I both took a stab at it. (more…)

May 21, 2014

A Transcription Puzzle: “then She bore Pale desire”, Part 2

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , , , — Andrea H. Everett @ 11:41 am

The other week, I posted an entry concerning my transcription of a set of manuscript pages beginning “then She bore Pale desire”. At the bottom of one of the pages, what seems to be an abbreviation is written in pencil marks that have either faded over time or were initially written with a series of light strokes. Here’s the image again:

Andrea2 (more…)

May 8, 2014

A Transcription Puzzle: “then She bore Pale desire”, Part 1

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , , , — Andrea H. Everett @ 11:00 am

I am currently in the process of transcribing some of Blake’s manuscript material beginning “then She bore Pale desire” and have run into some difficulty. At the bottom of object 5, Blake adds additional text in a rough hand using pencil. (The majority of the object is covered in brown ink.) I can read the text at the bottom right (which is an addition, the placement of which is indicated by a line). However, there is also what appears to be an abbreviation at the bottom left. I cannot make it out with certainty, and it is not connected to the rest of the text (in any obvious way, at least). (more…)

April 17, 2014

“till the Cold is gone”: Blake, Rochester NY and talking about the weather

Filed under: BAND, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Laura Whitebell @ 1:23 pm

Being British, one of my favourite pastimes is talking about the weather (usually in a tone of complaint whilst drinking a cup of tea, of course), and I’ve always considered myself to be rather good at it — that is, until I moved to western New York. The Rochester snow makes a bit of British rain seem like a pleasant shower, a February blizzard makes London fog charmingly atmospheric and the dramatic temperature fluctuations make grabbing your coat in the morning as simple as remembering to brush your teeth. This week, for example, has seen alterations in weather from 80 degrees and sunshine to 25 degrees and snow (27° to -3° for our Celsius-loving readers). Anyway, as I was thinking this over, I started wondering what Blake thought about the weather. (more…)

April 8, 2014

Day of DH 2014

Filed under: BAND, Day of DH, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Laura Whitebell @ 5:30 pm

Welcome to BAND’s 2014 Day of DH post where we answer the question, “just what do digital humanists do?” (more…)

March 5, 2014

To the Letters

Filed under: BAND, XML — Tags: , , , — Shannon Jaime @ 11:00 am

Since re-grouping in January, the members of BAND have been working earnestly on a variety of new and ongoing projects, including Blake’s Descriptive Catalogue, Receipts, The French Revolution, Chaucer, Prospectus, The Four Zoas, Genesis, Tiriel, and additional groups of Blake’s letters. In an effort to do more shameless plugging for our imminent letters publication, I’d like to share why I decided to continue with the letters project. (more…)

February 19, 2014

The Undergraduate Experience Part II

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , , , , — Laura Whitebell @ 11:00 am

By Megan Wilson

Like Margaret, I am an undergraduate at the William Blake Archive with the University of Rochester (BAND). I must commend Margaret on her spot on description of what it is like to work at the Blake Archive. (more…)

August 14, 2012

Blake Archive at ADE 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — nwasmoen @ 5:54 pm

This past week in Charlottesville, I had the opportunity to attend two events hosted by the Association for Documentary Editing (ADE). The first of these was “camp edit,” or the Institute for Editing Historical Documents. In a week of seminars we covered a range of editing and publishing topics, from transcription, document search, and annotation to project management, modes of publication, and fundraising. I was glad to find this year’s program emphasized questions raised by digital technologies in addition to its core curriculum of transcription, annotation, proofing, indexing, project management, and publication. A session on digital tools for editing led by Andy Jewell, of the Willa Cather Archive and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was supplemented by conversations linking traditional scholarly editing topics to some of Andy’s experiences in the digital realm at UNL and before that with the Whitman Archive.

Some topics from the old core curriculum appeared less relevant to our work at the Blake Archive at first, but I found many underlying principles could inform our own practices, even where the means may be quite different. For example, during the session on indexing led by William Ferraro of the George Washington papers, I wasn’t sure that I would gain much practical knowledge as an assistant to a digital project without a traditional book index. As the seminar continued, however, I found myself thinking of indexing less as a way to direct users to specific pages in a book and more as a practice in the kind of constrained vocabulary description and document linking that power the searching, browsing, and sorting within a digital edition. We may have more options for how we structure those connections in a digital edition, but there is no less of a premium on transparency, usefulness, and efficiency for users in the way we structure relationships between objects and content.

Having previous to my ADE experience spent little time around historical editions, I never quite got used to all the talk of “documents” at camp edit or in the ADE meeting that followed it. At the Blake Archive we usually only say “documents” to refer to the documentation we generate in the process of editing “works” and “objects”. This difference in speaking had me thinking about the questions I wanted to address in my own presentation to the ADE regarding how the manuscripts and letters projects in the Blake Archive have brought about some interesting changes in the way that editorial definitions based on the earlier illuminated books and visual designs have been applied and rationalized. I gleaned from the enthusiastic reception of an earlier presenter’s questioning of the durability of digital editions (she said she’d migrate to a digital edition when someone could show her how to read an electronic text without electricity, bringing to my mind the Olympic ads for NBC’s upcoming post-apocalyptic “Revolution”) that my intended discussion of some of the peculiarities of our XML tag set for manuscript transcriptions might not be the most compelling choice for the group assembled. In my presentation about the letters in our edition not in Blake’s hand, titled “Complicated Correspondence: Editing the Letters William Blake Did Not Write,” I expanded on some of the less overtly technical repercussions of earlier precedents set in the Blake Archive to the work we’re doing now on new types of objects and works. My argument was that the usages of “works”, “copies,” and “objects,” even when used as literally and diplomatically as they have been in the Blake Archive, become another layer of technology mediating users’ access to content. As much a technology as the codex or digital machines used to flip or navigate pages, these terms require continual re-inspection as they are applied to new ends.

Along these lines, I am excited to hear our editors are planning to push more of the documentation for the Archive onto the public site in the near future. Hopefully such a move will encourage us to keep our editorial machinery well oiled, in addition to providing a resource for other editorial projects.

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