HUMS 405, Interpretations: William Blake

Meeting Time: 
Mondays 1:30pm-3:20pm

This course explores the world of William Blake’s poetry, with an emphasis on the longer prophetic poems, in conversation with his artistic output. We locate Blake in his historical moment, responding in his poetry and art to a variety of political, philosophical, and aesthetic movements in England and elsewhere. We also see Blake as part of an evolving literary tradition, paying particular attention to his relationship with his poetic precursor John Milton, and to Romantic contemporaries such as William Wordsworth. Trips to the Beinecke Library and the Yale Center for British Art allow us to see firsthand and to think deeply about the materiality of Blake’s works, as well as the complex relationships in them between text and image. Finally, we consider Blake as a radical religious thinker and innovator by analyzing his poetry’s connections to modes of Biblical vision, prophecy, and apocalypse.