Some have called William Blake (1757-1827) the most important and influential figure in all of English Romanticism. William Wordsworth thought him “crazy, but brilliant,” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him “a man of genius.” He was a poet, a visual artist, an illustrator, and a visionary who was almost unknown during his lifetime. Now, however, many scholars see him as the seminal artist who rebelled against the neoclassical conventions of the 18th century and propelled English literature into a Romantic era based on individualism, imagination, mysticism, love of nature, and, in Blake’s case, social awareness. In this course, we will examine “Songs of Innocence” (1789); “The Songs of Experience” (1794); “America: A Prophecy;” and “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” In these works, we will look carefully at the interplay
between word and illustration.