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Peer Review

The William Blake Archive



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Nov 25, 2010 by English Editorial Board
Overview: This archive provides a comprehensive collection of digitized primary documents representing the work of William Blake as well as scholarly articles about Blake and his work. As of 5 November 2010, it offered "searchable and scalable electronic editions of 77 copies of Blake's twenty illuminated works in the context of full bibliographic information about each work, . . . transcriptions of all texts, detailed descriptions of all images, and extensive bibliographies." The archive thus supports use in the literature classroom as well as academic research, and it allows teachers and researchers to examine Blake's poems in the visual context within which he published them.
Type of Material: Collection / Text Archive
Recommended Uses: The site can be used for in-class presentations, team assignments and projects, and individual assignments. It also provides excellent support for academic research.
Technical Requirements: The latest versions of web browsers and, if possible, a monitor set to gamma 1.8, white point 5000K. Java is required to access all the site's capabilities, but where possible the site provides non-Java alternatives.
Identify Major Learning Goals: This site could accommodate many learning goals. Its multiple copies of Blake's illuminated works are suitable for use in literature and art classes as well as for academic research.
Target Student Population: High school (advanced) through graduate studies; also useful for Blake scholars and researchers
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic library and computer skills; rudimentary knowledge of Blake's work will simplify use.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The collection is comprehensive and visually appealing. The artwork displays very well. The site provides access to multiple copies of very rare works. (For example, one may compare hand-colored plates from eleven copies of Songs of Innocence and Experience.) Excellent list of related sites.
Concerns: Because of the nature of its contents, the site is very complex. It has good instructions and help materials, but instructors need to provide scaffolding to allow learning to take place.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: The site is an outstanding source of materials for any literature class studying William Blake. The replication of primary texts is invaluable and not readily available for students otherwise.
Concerns: Instructors will need to design learning activities to guide students' use of the material.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The archive is the product of excellent, high-quality site design. There are clear, step-by-step instructions for searching. Both texts and images may be searched.
Concerns: Instructions are lengthy; some pages may be a bit long for projection in a classroom setting.

Other Issues and Comments: This site provides an excellent visual introduction to Blake and his work and an outstanding resource for research and scholarship. Instructors using it will need to design activities to lead and focus the students' experiences.