William Blake's Jerusalem: "The Grandest Poem that this World Contains”

Saturday, June 14, 2014
(This program continues for multiple sessions)
Saturdays, June 14 – August 16 (class will not meet July 5)

1 – 3 pm

Led by Susanne Sklar

William Blake’s illuminated masterpiece, Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, is more like an interactive game than a traditional epic. It is designed to take both its characters and readers on a journey from what Blake calls the stultifying mindset of “Selfhood,” to life in “the Divine Body,” in which all things creatively interrelate in ferocious joy. We will embark on Blake’s mythic journey, asking along the way: can a poem change the world? In preparation, please pick two images from “Jerusalem” which intrigue or inspire and make up a story about them.

Susanne Sklar, author of Blake’s ‘Jerusalem As Visionary Theatre,’ has taught Blake in a variety of places including Oxford, Northwestern Unviersity, Shimer College, and Western Siberia.

Materials List

Required Text(s):

– Morton Paley, ed. William Blake: Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion. Princeton University Press. ISBN-13: 9780691029078

  • This is a better edition, but it’s currently out of print. It will not be stocked at the Newberry Bookstore.
  • If you cannot find the above: David Bindman, ed. William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0500282458. This text will be available at the Newberry Bookstore.

– A paperback edition of Blake’s complete poems, such as one of the below:

  • Geoffrey Keynes, ed. Blake: Complete Writings. Oxford University Press. (This is the best edition, but it’s out of print, too! There are, however, a number of afforable used copies to be found online.)
  • Alternatively: W.H. Stevenson. William Blake: The Complete Poems. Longman’s. ISBN-13: 9781405832809.

– A course packet, to be purchased in class.

Recommended Text:

  • Susanne Sklar. Entering the Divine Body: Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ As Visionary Theatre. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-960314-5
  • (Instructor holds the copyright on this book and will distribute short sections of it.)

Readings for the First Class:

  • Look at the illuminations to Blake’s ‘Jerusalem.’ Pick two images that intrigue or inspire you; make up a story about them. Don’t worry about the verbal text. Just enjoy Blake’s visuals.

This class is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program.

Cost and registration information: 

Nine sessions, $231.
Register Online.