William Blake is undoubtedly one of the most prolific poets in the
language. The groundbreaking work of Damon, Frye, Bloom and Erdman,
among others, has taught us how to read Blake on his own terms, and in
relation to his immediate milieu. Recent years have shown a dramatic
increase in historicist work on William Blake. Is it possible to respect the difficulty, originality and figural wealth (not to say madness) of Blake's texts, while simultaneously remaining responsible to historically informed questions of war, class struggles, labor and
consumption, not to mention implications in imperial, national and
religious politics, racial hierarchies and gender issues?
The purpose of the proposed session is therefore two-fold: an attempt to rescue Blake from being imprisoned in a tower of aesthetic autonomy
where he would have been quite unhappy, if not extremely irate, and an
effort to keep him free from stereotypical ('which side are you on?') treatments that pretend to address historical, global or political problems only to end up simplifying the complex poetic inscriptions that are ostensibly being read. For Blake, the personal is political, but he also demands that it be figurally exuberant. It is hoped that the panel will be able to respect this double Blakean imperative: to be historically engaged without losing sight of the religious, the aesthetic or the intimate.
The focus, then, will be on Blake's singular 'productions of time,' and
on the socio-historic conditions that rhythm these productions--that is, how the latter inform the former through and through, and vice versa.
Perhaps it is possible to maintain Blake's textual presence as an artist in a wild and whirling world where the fate of humankind seems to rest on the apparent instability of a word, an apostrophe (Los[']s Loss), or the flourish of a paintbrush.
Please send 1-2 page abstracts or completed papers (no attachments
please) by e-mail by September 15, 2000 to:
Snail Mail is also welcome. Please contact Joshua David Gonsalves at address below.
NB: Accepted panelists must join NEMLA by November 1, 2000.
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