18. May 2011 · Comments Off on June Lecture · Categories: Society News

6.30 pm Tuesday 7 June 2011

Sibylle Erle and David Worrall

Physiognomy and the Human Form Divine


Blake’s creation myth The Book of Urizen saw the light amidst the eighteenth century debate about physiognomy. Through the book’s six versions he explores the relationship between body and soul, and attempts to achieve what seems beyond both any mythical figure and his own abilities : creating a body and book in the image of perfection.


This talk explores the development of the representation of the human body, from silhouette to flesh and blood, and will reveal Blake’s satire on Lavater incarnated in his creation of Urizen as his likeness. Human identity, embodiment, incarnation and the gap between God and man will all be touched upon, as we move closer to Blake’s conception of the creation of the human body as a celebration of life.


Sibylle Erle is a lecturer at Bishop Grosseteste University College in Lincoln. Author of Blake, Lavater and Physiognomy (2010), she co-curated with Philippa Simpson the display ‘Blake and Physiognomy’ at Tate Britain. Her research on Lavater has focused on the search for divine likeness, ideas of objective likeness and methods of likeness-taking in the pre-photographic age. Her work on Blake’s creation myth explores the aesthetic, medical, scientific and cultural contexts of Blake’s approach to the human body.


David Worrall is Professor of English at Nottingham Trent University. With Steve Clark, he co-edited the volumes of essays Historicizing Blake (1994), Blake in the Nineties (1999) and Blake, Nation and Empire (2006).  He was Principal Investigator on the AHRB project (with Dr Keri Davies) on Blake and the Moravians (2004-06) and (with Dr. Nancy Cho) on the Panacea Society project (2008-10) on Dorothy Gott, the ex-Quaker, ex-servant, prophetic writer whom William and Catherine met  at 10.00 am on 13 April 1789.

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