William Blake Europe a Prophecy

Basic Program of Liberal Education

Autumn Symposium

William Blake, A Revolutionary During Revolution: Songs of Innocence and Experience and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Saturday, October 27 | 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. | Saieh Hall for Economics at UChicago | $175

“He approached everything with a mind unclouded by current opinions,” said T.S. Eliot of William Blake, adding—“This makes him terrifying.”


William Blake Europe a Prophecy

Terrifying or inspiring, Blake was a consummate original in both the content and the form of his poems—visionary works inseparable from his own hand-painted engravings. In two of his most famous works, The Songs of Innocence and Experience: Showing the Two Contraries of the Human Soul and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake poetically argues for the centrality to human life and creativity of what has traditionally been rejected as dangerous or evil—without, however, denying the danger. (“Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires,” runs one of the Proverbs of Hell in Marriage, infamously and ambiguously.)

We will read these two illuminated works with an eye toward Blake’s revolutionary and exuberant perturbation of conventional morality and traditional poetic form in service of individual freedom and creativity and affirmation.

Featured Speaker: W.J.T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago

Basic Program Staff Speaker: Claudia Traudt

Musical presentation featuring Elizabeth Parker, classical vocal coach and pianist. 

Join us for the daylong symposium on Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Saieh Hall for Economics at UChicago. Tuition is $175 and includes all-day beverage service, light breakfast, and lunch. 


Photo Credit: The William Blake Archive

Recommended Reading:

  • William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (Oxford Paperbacks) 1st Edition, ISBN: 978-0192811677
  • William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul, 1789-1794 (Oxford Paperbacks), ISBN: 978-0192810892