Joe Viscomi


Greenlaw 504
(919) 962-8764

The James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of English

I am co-editor/creator with Robert Essick and Morris Eaves of the William Blake Archive, a hypertext of Blake's poetry and art transferred to digital form, which to date contains over 7,000 images from 45 contributing institutions and collections. Conceived and designed in 1993-95, and a free site on the World Wide Web since 1996, the Archive is an international public resource that provides unified access to major works of visual and literary art that are highly disparate, widely dispersed, and often severely restricted as a result of their value, rarity, and extreme fragility. The archive is sponsored by the Library of Congress and supported by the Carolina Digital Library and Archives at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Past support includes the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, the Getty Grant Program, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Preservation and Access Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sun Microsystems, and Inso Corporation.

The editors have designed the Archive for use by a broad audience of scholars and students in classrooms and museums. In 2003, the editors received the Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition, awarded every two years by the Modern Language Association - and the first time it has been awarded to an electronic edition. In 2005 the Blake Archive was designated An Approved Edition by the MLA Committee for Scholarly Editions, making it the first electronic edition so designated. In 2006, I received the Knowledge Trust Exploration Award for my work on the Blake Archive. "In 2010, the editors were awarded a three-year National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research Grant, and in 2011 received a MERLOT [Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching] Award."

The structure and rationale of the Archive grew out of my earlier editing projects for the Blake Trust (vols. 3 and 5 of William Blake's Illuminated Books, Tate Gallery/Princeton U. P, 1993) and my Blake and the Idea of the Book (Princeton UP, 1993). I continue to examine the various ways in which Blake's techniques and the idea of creating figure into his poetry and designs, and to examine the development of watercolor painting, print technology, and lyrical poetry in the Romantic period, focusing on works by major and minor figures, including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Turner, Constable, Cozens, and Gilpin.  

Course Pages


Attachment Size
take me to the river.spec_.m4a 6.36 MB


Ph. D., Columbia University, 1980
M.Phil., Columbia University, 1978
M.A., Columbia University, 1974
Ph.B., Monteith College, Wayne State University, 1973 

Research Groups and Interests

Group V - English Literature from 1789 to 1900 (Nineteenth-Century British Literature)