I was assigned to explore The William Blake Archive for this blog post. I was intrigued by this particular site because I remembered reading The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Songs of Innocence in ENGL 3820, and I wanted to see if this website contained any more information about the works and/or more images. I was also interested to look at Blake’s other works. I was pleased to find a wealth of information and resources on this site. Although the format of the site is a little dated, everything is easily accessible, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is researching William Blake.
- What is the primary purpose of this project?
“The Archive at a Glance” page states:
A free site on the World Wide Web since 1996, the Blake Archive was conceived as an international public resource that would provide unified access to major works of visual and literary art that are highly disparate, widely dispersed, and more and more often severely restricted as a result of their value, rarity, and extreme fragility.
The purpose of this site is simply to provide public access to the works of William Blake. It contains several editions of all 19 of William Blake’s works along with extensive biographical information. This site would be an excellent resource for anyone wanting a comprehensive look at Blake’s life and masterpieces.
- What does this project hope to do that a print resource (a book/books, a journal article, a reference work, etc.) couldn’t?
This resource is able to provide a comprehensive collection of Blake’s works and biographical information on one easy-to-use site. With the click of the mouse or by searching in their search engines, you can have access to nearly every piece of Blake’s work. The archive also claims to “supply reproductions that are more accurate in color, detail, and scale than the finest commercially published photomechanical reproductions and texts that are more faithful to Blake’s own than any collected edition has provided.” They claim that their ultimate aim is to “encompass the full range of Blake’s work,” which would allow them to produce “a unique resource unlike any other currently available—a hybrid all-in-one edition, catalogue, database, and set of scholarly tools capable of taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by new information technology.”
- What is distinctive/notable about this project’s approach to its subject matter?
This site’s dedication to produce a comprehensive, high-quality view of William Blake’s life’s work is quite remarkable. For example, when I looked up their resources for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, multiple editions were listed with very high-quality pictures. I was a little unnerved to discover that all of this information was free, having had to purchase a physical copy of the work for ENGL 3820! I think it’s notable how the authors of this site desire for complete accessibility to Blake’s work. They acknowledge that this art and literature is admired worldwide, and they want to make sure that the world has easy access to this wealth of information.
However, they do have very strict copyright warnings throughout the site. They ask that nothing be used from the site without the right permissions out of respect for the contributors to the site. It is very apparent that they value the information stored on the site very highly, and they do not want just anybody ripping off the data.
- How would this site/project be useful to scholars doing research?
I can see this site being extremely helpful to anyone doing research on William Blake. The search page could help them find anything they were looking for among the vast wealth of information provided. The editors and contributors to this site seem extremely credible.
- Is this project designed such that it might reach a broader audience/readership than scholars doing research?
I would have found this site very interesting and helpful as a student of English, but I’m not sure that this site would reach a broader audience beyond students, teachers, and researchers.
- Are there any aspects of this projects approach that might be useful to the project groups in our class as they conceive of, design, and implement a significantly smaller-scale digital project?
I’m not sure how many of these projects will resemble an archive, but I think that the layout of this site serves as a good model for the types of pages and categories that we should include on our site. I think it would be helpful to have an “About” page that outlines the purpose of the site. I also think that a search engine of some sort would be useful, but I’m pretty sure that WordPress already comes with one of those. I would recommend looking at the physical layout of the pages as an example of what not to do. The home page is not very attractive, and the format of multiple links rather than clickable pages is distracting at first.
I’m interested to learn more about copyright laws as we are putting together our websites. It’s very clear that The William Blake Archive is serious about protecting the rights of their contributors, and I’m wondering what precautions we need to be taking as we are collecting resources for our digital projects.