University of York
Supervised by Professor Jon Mee, University of York and Dr Amy Concannon, Curator, British Art 1790–1850, Tate
October 2019 –

William Blake, Milton (Copy A) plate 32, c.1804–11

William Blake
Milton (Copy A) plate 32, c.1804–11

This research relates the work of William Blake (1757–1827) to the history and theory of mapping. The project situates Blake within networks of people and places, with a view to characterising him as both a cautious participant in, and a canny critic of, contemporaneous mapping practices. The research is interdisciplinary, spanning the fields of literary, intellectual and art history as well as cultural geography. It contributes to historicist Blake scholarship by seeking to restore to Blake a place within eighteenth-century networks, unravelling the notions of otherworldliness, obscurity and Romantic individualism that have so often been fundamental to Blake’s posthumous reputation.

This project thinks through Blake’s agonistic engagement with the imagery, formal logic and onto-epistemology of eighteenth-century mapping, understood as a networked set of practices. It is an opportunity to place Blake’s visual and verbal art in dialogue with that of recent theorists of spatial representation and attendant problematics of knowledge, power and politics.

The research also traces the legacy of Blake’s contradictorily (anti-)cartographic imagination as it is evoked in creative responses to his work up to the present day, especially within networks of London-based small-press publishers, writers and artists. This aspect of the project combines archival and oral-historical research to seek out Blake’s ongoing legacy in present-day London, which can in turn inform a reading of the formal and thematic affordances of Blake’s oeuvre.

About Caroline Anjali Ritchie

Caroline Anjali Ritchie holds a BA in Classics and English from The University of Oxford and an MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture from the Warburg Institute. Broadly, Caroline’s research interests include mapping, psychogeography, cities, networks, radicalism, counterculture, the ‘British Poetry Revival’ and independent publishing. She also writes poetry, which has appeared in Culture Matters, and contributes to Zoamorphosis, a blog focusing on the ‘afterlives’ of William Blake up to the present day.

Selected publications:

Twitter @carolineanjali