Abstract

Google Blake

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.