Professor of English Morris Eaves recently received the Modern Language Association Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition for his website on 18th century English painter William Blake.This made his web site the first electronic publication ever to be awarded the prize. The William Blake Archive was designed and created in 1996. It is co-edited by Robert Essick of the University of California and Joe Viscomi of the University of North Carolina, who both shared the award with Professor Eaves.The archive serves as an interactive tool for a varied audience. “The target audience is the professional art historians and literary critics, who are doing research on William Blake and his circle,” Eaves said. “But, since the Blake Archive is free to a global audience on the internet, we serve lots of other people with lots of other things in mind – from students writing papers to folks who just happen to be interested in looking at Blake’s pictures or reading his poems.”Eaves was highly motivated to create a tribute to an artist he admires tremendously. “The main inspiration for the archive was Blake’s stunning visual work,” Eaves said. “He created some of the most imaginative images we have, in several different media, and the prospect of using the internet to make those far more available than they have ever been was too great to resist.”Despite receiving recognition and praise, Eaves and his colleagues do not intend to rest on their laurels and hope to broaden the archive’s coverage of Blake’s work. “Most recently we’ve been working to extend the range of our coverage Blake’s work beyond the ‘illuminated books’ that we started with,” Eaves said. “We’ve begun publishing Blake’s watercolors, engravings, original color prints and manuscripts.””Its an endless project,” Eaves said. “I can see my life passing in Blake Archive publications.”Eaves has also worked on two books about William Blake, “The Cambridge Companion to William Blake” and “A Blake Dictionary.”Recipients of the prize receive an award of $1,000 and a certificate acknowledging their achievement. More significant to Eaves, however, is the resultingly increased interest in Blake and his work. “I hope that students can use the website indulge their interest in Blake,” Eaves said. “I’d also like them to realize that scholarly research in the humanities can be this interesting and useful at the same time.”The award-winning web site can been viewed at http://www.blakearchive.org.Additional reporting by Sara Korol.Elton can be reached at telton@campustimes.org.



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