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'"That Mild Beam": Enlightenment and Enslavement in William Blake's "Visions of the Daughters of Albion"' / Steven Vine

The Discourse of Slavery: Aphra Behn to Toni Morrison, Pages: 40 - 63

Swansea University Author: Vine, Steven

Abstract

The essay argues that the radical force of Blake's 'Visions of the Daughters of Albion' (1793) is not defined by a dialectic of freedom and oppression, but the contradictory and ironic energies of Blakean language. The essay analyses the representation of enslavement, sexuality and en...

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Published in: The Discourse of Slavery: Aphra Behn to Toni Morrison
Published: London Routledge 1994
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa17976
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Abstract: The essay argues that the radical force of Blake's 'Visions of the Daughters of Albion' (1793) is not defined by a dialectic of freedom and oppression, but the contradictory and ironic energies of Blakean language. The essay analyses the representation of enslavement, sexuality and enlightenment in Visions alongside Mary Wollstonecraft's 'Vindication of the Rights of Woman' (1792). Against Wollstonecraft, Blake figures the female body not simply as ‘enslaving,’ but a site of political conflict and emancipatory potential. The essay examines the relations between Blake's text and J.G. Stedman's 'Narrative, of a Five Years' expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam' (1796) for which he provided several engravings during the period in which Visions was produced. In the poem that refigures him, and the engravings, Blake exposes Stedman's collusive and duplicitous relation to colonialism, just as 'Visions' illuminates the contradictions inherent in the ideology of ‘enlightenment.’
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Start Page: 40
End Page: 63