Blake in Our Time Symposium

Blake in Our Time: A Symposium Celebrating the Future of Blake Studies & the Legacy of G.E. Bentley Jr.

A reminder that this symposium will take place on Saturday, 28 August at Victoria University in the University of Waterloo. Speakers at the event include Robert N. Essick, Joseph Viscomi, Mary Lynn Johnson, and Angus Whitehead.

There is no charge for attending the event, but registration is required. Further details can be found at the university web site, including a registration form, and inquiries can be made to Professor Karen Mulhallen.

Burning Bright: two events in July

As well as a number of Blake displays and exhibitions currently on show for the Summer (see Blakean Summer Shows for more information), two events are taking place next month in the UK that will be of interest to Blake followers.

The first is Burning Bright in Concert, organised by the Blake Society. Tymon Dogg has set seventeen of William Blake’s poems to music?and will perform a selection of these on July 6, 6.30-8.00 pm at the City of Westminster Archives Centre. A singer-songwriter for more than 40 years, he has worked with artists as varied as The Clash and The Moody Blues. He is currently working with Susan de Muth, who has directed several theatre pieces including?‘The Greatest Ever dada Show’, to create a theatrical spectacle based on the songs.

Also, a reminder that St Aldgate’s Church, Oxford will host a two-day conference on Blake, Gender and Sexuality in the Twenty-First Century on July 15-16. The conference will explore present and future directions opened up since publication of Irene Taylor’s “The Woman Scaly”, exploring how critics have wrestled and struggled with, delighted in and savoured, Blake’s provocative and abundant sexual visions. The event will celebrate and build upon past knowledge as it reaches toward likely concerns of the future.

Forthcoming conferences and events

A number of conferences and symposia dealing with aspects of Blake’s work are to be held over the coming months.

The first of these, a two-day conference on Digital Romanticisms on May 22-23 at the University of Tokyo, is not devoted exclusively to Blake but will include a large contingent of international scholars exploring changes in the definition and rationale of romantic studies that have occurred due to recent technological innovations. While exploring romantic studies generally can accommodate such issues as reproducibility, transfer, ownership, access, and dissemination, several papers are devoted to exploring the impact of such elements as the Blake Archive and the challenges posed by Web 2.0 technologies. For further information, see the HASTAC listing.

St Aldgate’s Church, Oxford will host a two-day conference on Blake, Gender and Sexuality in the Twenty-First Century, on July 15-16. The conference will explore present and future directions opened up since publication of Irene Taylor’s “The Woman Scaly”, exploring how critics have wrestled and struggled with, delighted in and savoured, Blake’s provocative and abundant sexual visions. The event will celebrate and build upon past knowledge as it reaches toward likely concerns of the future. It will also be preceded by a workshop at Tate Britain focussing on the new Blake acquisitions by the gallery.

On August 28, there will be a symposium on Blake In Our Time at Victoria University, part of the University of Toronto. This celebrates the legacy of G. E. Bentley and looks to the future of Blake studies, with We encourage papers exploring new directions and approaches to the study of Blake using manuscript archives, new online resources, forgeries and oddities, Blake’s commercial engravings, and variations in Blake’s illuminated books, as well as studies of the major collections amassed by private scholar-collectors.

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New releases and forthcoming events

Just released is Chase the Devil, a new album by Gary Lucas and Dean Bowman, which draws inspiration from Blake, Blind Willie Johnson and Shlomo Carlebach among others. Lucas, who played and recorded with a number of artists including Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley and Lou Reed over the years, has been attracting reviews that describe his guitar-playing as driven by an almost religious fervour on tracks such as “In Christ There Is No East or West” and “Out on the Rolling Sea”. Of particular note for Blake followers is the inclusion of a version of “Jerusalem” that combines Lucas’s bluesy, sliding guitar to good effect with Bowman’s clear voice.

An exhibition around Carl Jung’s “Red Book” at the Library of Congress shows how Blake was one of his influences. The 205-page manuscript had been locked away after his death until a facsimile was published by Norton last year, and demonstrates his technique of what he calls “active imagination”, elaborating the stream of his unconscious. Prints of Blake, alongside Tibetan mandalas and books of alchemy, are part of the exhibition that will run from June 17 till August 18. Another exhibition, “Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art since the 1960s” at the San Antonio Museum of Arts, draws on Blake and Hieronymous Bosch as precursors, and runs till August 1.

Of forthcoming talks, lectures and conferences, Victoria University is holding a Symposium, “Blake In Our Time”, celebrating the life and work of renowned Blake scholar, G. E. Bentley, Jr., on August 28. On July 15-16, “Blake, Gender and Sexuality in the Twenty-First Century”, organised by Helen Bruder and Tristanne Connolly, will be running at the Christopher Room, Aldgate Church, Oxford, and the “Digital Romanticisms” conference at the University of Tokyo on May 22-23 will include a number of speakers discussing Blake’s work in the digital age.

Finally, The Blake Society also recently posted a reminder that it will be running its annual celebration of Blake’s life and work at his grave in Bunhill Fields. Anyone can come and participate, and this year Robin Hatton-Gore, the gardener in charge of the cemetary for many years, will talk about the topography of the site. The event takes place at noon on Sunday, August 15.