"Blake's Radical Ecology"


The historical moment of the British printmaker, painter, draughtsman, and poet William Blake—who lived between 1757 and 1827—was marked by a seismic shift in relations between human beings and the natural environment. My dissertation argues that Blake's work frequently engages with new forms of technology and new organizations of labor in a manner that critiques the root of these changes for human society, nonhuman animals, and the more-than-human environment. Because Blake was a member of the artisanal classes, the son of a hosier and trained as a journeyman engraver, he occupied a privileged position of insight into early-industrial society. Technologies of mass production most threatened artisanal handcrafted modes of production. Ultimately, the dissertation demonstrates the many ways in which Blake drew upon his distinct professional training, artistic influences, and literary tradition to engineer an experimental composite means of artistic production. He combined both text and image in a manner that challenged the socio-economic and environmental effects of coal-driven and steam-powered mass manufacture.