William Blake Archive Upgrade

The William Blake Archive. In collaboration with UNC Libraries and ITS Research Computing, the William Blake Archive is launching on 12 December 2016 a complete and transformative redesign of its website. This new site, www.blakearchive.org, retains all of the features of the previous site, which had become so indispensable to Blake scholars, and offers vast improvements, making it easier than ever for educators and scholars to access and study Blake’s inimitable works.


The Blake Archive, one of the pre-eminent digital humanities sites in the world, is a hypermedia archive of Blake's poetry and art that is sponsored by the Library of Congress and supported by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Rochester. Past support came from the Getty Grant Program, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Archive integrates, for the first time, all of Blake's visual and literary work. It comprises almost 7000 high-resolution digital images of Blake’s illuminated books, paintings, drawings, manuscripts, and engravings drawn from over 45 of the world’s great research libraries and museums.


William Blake Archive Homepage


The redesigned Archive is faster and easier to navigate, is aesthetically more appealing, and offers a more robust search feature. Users may view color corrected digital images of Blake’s works at their true size, and enlarge and rotate these images to examine the text and illustrations in detail. The images are accompanied by diplomatic transcriptions and editors’ notes, as well as illustration descriptions that make it possible to search Blake’s works for visual motifs. The Archive also provides full bibliographic and provenance information for each digital edition it publishes. Though the Archive retains its focus on the material conditions of Blake’s art, presenting images in the context of works and copies, such as The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Copy B, the newly designed site contextualizes each work, copy, and object in a network of relations. Users of the site can view each Blakean object alongside objects in the same copy, objects printed from the same matrix, objects from the same production sequence, and objects with similar designs. This contextualization, which draws on the expertise of the Archive’s editors, enables comparisons across time, medium, and genre, and foregrounds the immense variety and the recurring themes of Blake’s art.  


The Archive was conceived in 1993—long before the term “digital humanities” was coined—by Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi. Developed at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, it has been hosted by UNC Libraries since 2006. The Archive, which has published 134 fully searchable and scalable digital editions of Blake’s works in all genres, became the first digital scholarly edition to receive the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition (2003) and the first to receive its Approved Edition seal (2005)—landmarks in the history of the digital humanities. The project’s standards and practices have themselves been the subject of considerable scholarship: there are over 50 chapters, essays, MA theses, and reviews on the Archive, its origins, history, development, and use; see Articles about the Archive in the About the Archive section of the site.  


The Marriage of Heaven and Hell copy I, plate 3, Gallery Mode, with true size images, enlargement, and transcription.


In late 2013, under the leadership of the Archive’s editors, the redesign team began architecting the new site. In early 2014, the team joined with UNC’s Libraries and ITS Research Computing to re-conceptualize the public face of the Archive, using tip-of-technology programming languages and aesthetic practices. With its new back end built on the open source object-relational database system PostgreSQL and the search platform Solr, and its front end composed in the AngularJS framework, fit for dynamic views demanded by the complexities of Blake's works, the Archive will again set the gold standard for digital humanities projects.  


The Archive’s redesign team was headed by co-editor Joseph Viscomi and comprises Consultant on Special Projects (and former Project Manager) Ashley Reed, Managing Editor Joseph Fletcher, and Assistant Editor Michael Fox, who as system architect designed the new front and back end, and contributed programming. Special thanks goes to Frank Yonnetti at DesignHammer for implementing the foundation of the interface. Assistant Project Manager Grant Glass joined the team in 2016. Further development and financial support came from Sarah Michalak, UNC’s University Librarian and Associate Provost, Chris Kielt, Vice Chancellor and CIO, and Mike Barker, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Research Computing, who collaborated with a team from UNC Libraries under Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies and Information Technology Timothy J. Shearer, to assist the Archive in realizing the new design. The Archive is especially grateful for the work of Nathan Rice, from Research Computing, and Luke Aeschleman, from the Libraries, whose programming and web design assistance were vital to the completion of the redesign.     Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors Joseph Fletcher, managing editor, Michael Fox, assistant editor The William Blake Archive  


Journal Publishes Digital Scholarship Produced by English Undergraduates

I Lit EPortfolio

E-Poetry, E-Portfolio ImageThe Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy has published Daniel Anderson and Emily Shepherd's article "I Lit: An E-Portfolio,  E-Poetry Exhibit" in its latest issue. The piece was developed as part of work in an ENGL 150, Introduction to Literary Studies course in which students explored the relationships between poetry in print and electronic forms. The article provides theoretical and pedagogical background related to the uses of electronic portfolios in education and curates over fifty videos produced by students in the course. According to the journal editor, the "I Lit: An E-Poetry, E-Portfolio Exhibit" multimedia article "provides an example of the kind of scholarship we hope to see more of at JITP, i.e. scholarship that leverages the affordances of technology to present its theses, analyses and evidences more effectively."  Emily Shepherd studies history, English, and education. She wants to become a middle school teacher and is interested in literacy and working with English Language Learners. She is particularly interested in incorporating multimedia composition in the classroom, which can be an effective method of engaging ELL students. For a full-screen experience and to view these materials as they are collected as part of the class site developed for the project, please see http://ilit.altscholarship.com/.


Prof. Jessica Wolfe to discuss "Ironic epithets in Renaissance literature" at international colloquium in Rome

Jessica Wolfe is the sole American scholar to participate in an international colloquium, "Homer in Europe / Omero in Europa," to be held in Rome on 23-25 November 2016, at the Institut Nederlandais of Rome and at the Palazzo Spada. She will be speaking (in French) on "Ironic epithets in Renaissance literature," a paper drawn from materials related to her 2015 book on the reception of Homer in the European Renaissance. 

Program information is available here (in French and Italian).

Jessica Wolfe is a Professor in the English and Comparative Literature Department, the Director of the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS), and the Director of the Program in Comparative Literature.

Prof. Heidi Kim discusses "Taken from the Paradise Isle" at DENSHO

Heidi Kim, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, was a participant in the inaugural Scholars’ Roundtable hosted by Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project in Seattle, Washington. She and other prominent scholars of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II (including Prof. Eric Muller of UNC Law School) discussed their recently published works (including Kim’s Taken from the Paradise Isle, UP Colorado, 2015), current work, the challenges and opposition that this field of study faces, and future directions.

Heidi Kim, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina, presents new work at the Densho Scholar Roundtable. Photo and caption provided by DENSHO.

“It was a privilege to participate in this roundtable,” said Prof. Kim. “I was energized by hearing about the amazing work of my fellow scholars, and we also learned a lot from the archivists’ meeting that ran simultaneously. I came away with new ideas for my own work and for teaching and public engagement, which we all agree is crucial for this major event in civil rights history.”

Densho, the hosting organization, is a grassroots public history nonprofit that maintains extensive digital collections and educational materials on the incarceration of Japanese Americans.




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January 2018