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Approaches to Teaching Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Editor(s): Robert F. Gleckner, Mark L. Greenberg

Pages: xvi & 162 pp.
Published: 1989
ISBN: 9780873525183 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873525176 (hardcover)

"Amongst these riches then, there should be something for everyone who teaches Blake's lyric poetry, especially if readers are willing to share the editors' 'delight in imagining fruitful class discussions emanating from significant disagreements with approaches offered here.'"
Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly

Responses to a survey conducted for this volume indicate that most teachers of Blake begin with Songs of Innocence and of Experience; the work is included in the syllabi of courses on literature and poetry at all levels, as well as courses in religious studies, humanities, and composition. The book's continuing fascination can be attributed to the many intellectual, theoretical, and pedagogical challenges it presents for students and teachers alike, such as the particulars of Blake's language and punctuation, his use of illustrations, differences in the order of the poems among the various extant editions, and considerations of what--for Blake and for other poets--constitutes "writing" and "the book."

This Approaches volume, like other volumes in the MLA's Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, is divided into two parts. The first part, "Materials," reviews editions and anthologies, critical works (including a survey of available commentaries on each poem), background materials, and facsimile and microfiche reproductions. In the second part, "Approaches," distinguished teachers and scholars describe strategies for presenting the Songs in the classroom. The first four essays discuss how teachers can bring theoretical concerns, such as textual and feminist approaches, to bear on specific poems. The following four essays address the inclusion of Songs in particular classes, from a survey on English Romanticism to a literature course at a technological institute. The third set of essays examines the Songs from specific literary perspectives, such as an analysis of the variations among different editions and an investigation of the work's biblical foundations. The final four essays present approaches for teaching individual poems.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Introduction: Teaching Blake's Songs

Robert F. Gleckner and Mark L. Greenberg

Texts and Reference Works

Critical Works on Blake's Poetry and Art

Critical Commentary on Songs
Treatments of the Whole Work
Treatments of Individual Songs

Background Materials and New Critical Approaches

Visual Resources for Teaching Songs
John E. Grant and Mary Lynn Johnson

Blake on Microfiche
Brian Wilkie



Approaches Emphasizing Theory

Image and Text in Songs
W. J. T. Mitchell
Teaching Ideology in Songs
David Simpson

Feminist Approaches to Teaching Songs
Mary Lynn Johnson

Reading, Drawing, Seeing Illuminated Books
Joseph Viscomi

Approaches Addressing Specific Teaching Contexts

The Borderline of Innocence and Experience
Thomas R. Frosch

Blake at MIT
Irene Tayler

The Piper and the Physicist
Jenijoy La Belle

Taking Risks in Teaching Songs
Stephen Cox

Approaches and Emphasizing Literary Context and the Idea of Context

Teaching the Variations in Songs
Robert N. Essick

Teaching the Biblical Contexts of Songs
Leslie Tannenbaum

Songs and the Bible
Philip J. Gallagher

The Groundings of the Songs
Wallace Jackson

Approaches Emphasizing Individual Songs

The Point-of-View Approach to Songs: Classroom Implications
Brian Wilkie

Teacing Blake's Psychology of Redemption in Songs
Harold Pagliaro

Hearing the Songs
Thomas A. Vogler

Unreading "London"
Donald Ault

Works Cited


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