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

October 7, 2015

Blake In Photoshop, Part 2: Recovering Faded Text

Filed under: digital humanities — Tags: , , , — Eric Loy @ 2:00 am

A few months ago, I wrote a post that introduced the idea of experimenting with the Archive’s cache of high-resolution digital photography in Photoshop. Experimentation has continued and has provided some interesting results. It’s difficult to label the experiments as successes or failures—the stakes aren’t that high yet. But in the DH/Zen-like spirit of play and working-without-aiming, let’s continue with the fun. (more…)

August 22, 2015

Publication Announcement – There is No Natural Religion copies A, D, and M

Filed under: Publications — Tags: , — Andrea H. Everett @ 9:19 pm

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of There is No Natural Religion copies A, D, and M, from the British Museum, Houghton Library, and Victoria and Albert Museum respectively. They join copy B, from Yale Center for British Art, copy C, from the Library of Congress, and copies G1-2 and L, from the Morgan Library and Museum. The Archive now has all seven extant copies of this illuminated book, making There is No Natural Religion the sixth illuminated book with its entire publishing history reproduced in the Archive, joining The Song of LosMilton a Poem, All Religions are One, The Book of Ahania, and The Book of Los. The Archive will add (more…)

May 29, 2015

Publication Announcement – Water color illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy

Filed under: Publications — Tags: , — Andrea H. Everett @ 9:41 am

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of a fully searchable electronic edition of Blake’s water color illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Archive first published these in January 2005 in our Preview mode. This republication substantially increases the number and range of Blake’s pictorial motifs available for searching on the Archive. The 7 engravings illustrating Dante’s poem continue to be available in the Archive in Preview mode. (more…)

May 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Sarah Jones @ 3:16 pm

Spring 2015 issue coverThe Blake Quarterly published its spring issue recently. It includes our annual “Blake in the Marketplace” feature by Robert N. Essick (who’s also one of the editors of the Blake Archive). “Marketplace” is always hefty on details but light in tone; there are lots of illustrations and the illustration captions, often in the form of mini-essays, are legendary. Elsewhere in the issue, Paul Miner explores Blake’s attitude to royalty (George III, Charlotte, and Marie Antoinette) and Jeff Mertz reviews Karl Kroeber’s Blake in a Post-Secular Era: Early Prophecies, written at the end of his life and brought to fruition by his former student Joseph Viscomi. Lastly, Joseph Wittreich uses two recently published books about William Hayley (one a collection of essays and the other a selection of his poetry) to discuss not only Hayley but also the reception history of Milton.

The Blake Quarterly site is

May 6, 2015

Poetical Sketches, Take 2

Filed under: digital humanities, XML — Tags: , , , , — mwils31 @ 11:11 am

Work that happens in a linear fashion is, generally, very boring. Our work on Blake’s typographical piece Poetical Sketches has certainly avoided that problem.  (more…)

May 1, 2015

Ancient of Days project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jones @ 2:02 pm

AncientSometimes we hear of worthy projects for which funds are being raised, such as the Blake Society’s initiative to purchase Blake’s cottage in Felpham. Another, on a slightly smaller scale, came to our attention recently. The following is excerpted from the original message:

My name is Gaelen Armstrong – I’m a Canadian metal artist currently residing in the US. My collaborator and I are admirers of William Blake, and we’re designing a project for reproducing Blake’s Ancient of Days as large copper bas reliefs.

Our Ancient of Days will be roughly 2′ x 4′ (x 3.5″, at its greatest depth), and will be pure copper. We’ll finish them with our handmade patinas and a variety of gold, silver, and brass brushplating. Each piece will be unique and substantial. We’ve made over 150 pieces of copper art together, and we’re excited to take on Blake’s masterpiece.

We’ve created a Kickstarter campaign to cover the last few materials needed to bring the project to fruition. Though there are a variety of rewards for smaller pledges, those who pledge $1500 or more will receive their own 2′ x 4′ relief of the Ancient of Days.

As a side note, pledges on Kickstarter are noted but no funds change hands unless the project meets its funding goal by the campaign’s deadline. (So there’s no risk of supporting a project that only gets partial funding, and therefore remains unfulfilled.)

The link for the campaign is It runs until 8 May 2015.

April 30, 2015

Blake in Photoshop (Part 1 of…)

Filed under: BAND, digital humanities — Tags: , , — Eric Loy @ 11:00 am

We’ve blogged quite a bit about our recent work creating an experimental edition of The Four Zoas. That sort of work has been on the encoding/display end of things. And while that work is ongoing, I’ve since become occupied with digital imaging and the potential editorial/archival uses for digital software, like Adobe Photoshop.

When I first sat down to a computer with some of these questions in mind, it took about five minutes to realize I needed full, lossless, high-resolution files to see anything in meaningful detail. I was able to work out a few techniques for recovering faded text (which I will blog about in the future), but some immediate questions our Rochester group had involved compressed files vs. high-resolution. So, dear reader, if you’ll permit me, today I’m going to respond to the group in blog form with some quick explanations and comparative screenshots. (more…)

April 22, 2015

“dance & sport in summer”: overhauling the transcription guidelines

Filed under: BAND, digital humanities — Tags: , , — Laura Whitebell @ 1:25 pm

We’re approaching the end of semester here, and, as you all know, “summer vacation” in the wonderful world of academia doesn’t mean time off but time to actually try and get work done. Accordingly, over the last few weeks, I’ve been putting my ducks in a row and trying to organize my projects for the summer. The task at the top of my list is to update our transcription guidelines and tag set, and (hopefully) to put them into some sort of format that we can eventually make public for users of the Blake Archive. This project isn’t as snoozeworthy as it sounds: I’m actually looking forward to incorporating the transcription decisions that we’ve made over the last few years and seeing what kind of editorial rationale emerges (assuming, of course, that there has been some method to our madness). (more…)

April 2, 2015

Where will we next see Blake? Fakes, forgeries and last night’s TV

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , — meghanholly @ 10:17 am

Currently a Film and Media Preservation Student, masquerading under the heading of English, I am by no means a Blake Scholar. So after I started working for the archive last fall I was always pleasantly surprised when I encountered a reference to Blake in my everyday life. It was like running into a new acquaintance when and where you least expect to. First I saw him referenced in a painting of book spines at MoMA. Then some friends I visited had a beautiful reproduction of one of his illuminated works hanging in their bedroom. Most recently I spotted Blake while watching an episode of USA’s White Collar. The show, which features reformed art thief and talented forger Neal Caffrey, also featured a fake Blake! The specific episode from season five entitled “Live Feed” featured a forged copy of William Blake’s “Last Judgement.” Intrigued by the idea of someone creating a forgery based on the work of William Blake I took to the internet to see what I could find on the subject. (more…)

March 25, 2015

Stopping to smell the roses: more thoughts on DH and collaboration

Filed under: BAND, digital humanities — Tags: , , , , , , — Laura Whitebell @ 2:59 pm

We have been fortunate to have a series of visiting Digital Humanities scholars at the University of Rochester over the last few months, and while all of their projects and approaches have been very different, most have still emphasized the importance of collaboration in their work. We’ve written a post about the topic before, but this time I want to focus more generally on the different kinds of group work we engage in at BAND. (more…)

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