Breaking the Narrow Circle: A Contextual Approach to William Blake's "Visions of the Daughters of Albion"

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
John Coggin (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site:
Peg Downes

Abstract: William Blake’s poetry has been a source of debate for scholars for many decades. His convoluted mythology and layered symbolism leaves significant room for scholarly interpretation and as a result, many of the scholars that have examined Blake’s work have found different and often opposing results from their analysis. In his poem “Visions of the Daughters of Albion” alone scholars have found a variety of significantly different interpretations. One analysis calls the poem a call for sexual liberation while another says it is oppressive to women, and yet another finds that Blake was discussing Newtonian physics instead of talking about sexuality at all. Each of these interpretations examines Blake and his work through a specific, focused lens that leaves out large portions of the historical and political context that surrounded Blake. When “Visions of the Daughters of Albion” is examined with this context in place, Blake’s meaning becomes clear. Blake was concerned with British involvement in the French Revolution and their continued antagonism of the United States and he was resisting the new British philosophies which concentrated on strict empiricism and reason above all else. Blake’s poetry requires a contextual, interdisciplinary approach, otherwise his meaning becomes obscured. My presentation will show where previous scholars have left out relevant context and how that has skewed their findings while also applying my own interpretation of “Visions of the Daughters of Albion” with a wider contextual focus.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
William Blake, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Poetry, French Revolution, Empiricism

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