Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing


Literature, English.


Matheson, C. S.,




This thesis examines the ways literary critics have interpreted William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790) and proposes an alternate means of reading the illuminated work in the contexts of material construction and visual representation. The reading offered is based on the supposition that the illuminations are not merely decorative but are a collaborative text that must also be "read". Chapter One, grounded in theoretical constructions of the activity of reading, investigates how a work of literature communicates to its readers, as well as the spatial and intellectual dynamics of how readers interpret literature. Chapter Two undertakes a study of Blake's methods of design by examining the commercial illustrations he executed for Edward Young's Night Thoughts (1795). The designs for Night Thoughts demonstrate Blake's technique of reading and interpreting an extant text and give clues as to how he may have approached his own textual designs. Chapter Three opens with a discussion of how Blake critics have treated and mistreated the illuminated page and concludes with a reading of the illuminations in Marriage as well as an analysis of how the images perform as literary signifiers. Chapter Four considers Blake's aesthetic theories in conjunction with his material practices. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 40-06, page: 1375. Adviser: C. S. Matheson. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2001.