William Blake in 42 Images with Mark Vernon

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William Blake in 42 Images: The Life and Lessons of an English Visionary, with Mark Vernon

William Blake was a genius poet and an astonishing visionary. But he was also a brilliant thinker with a developed analysis of what was going wrong in society.

Blake’s analysis is profoundly relevant to our own times coupled as it is to a sharp vision of what we lack, and what we can find in life.

In this course Mark Vernon explores William Blake’s life, which included profound disappointments as well as, ultimately, firm hope. Mark addresses the elements of Blake’s work for which he is famous, from cleansing the doors of perception and his social commentary to his erotic freedom and religious passion.

And he shows why William Blake matters to us today and how we might follow his lead, thereby regaining an awareness of the richness of human possibility in our imaginative, shared and individual lives.

Across three fascinating and learned lessons Mark will walk you through the life and times of the Romantic poet and artist, his works both visual and text, and explains how William Blake is a vital guide to navigate our modern world.

The course is accompanied by detailed notes, a quiz, a list of all the works discussed, a timeline of Blake’s life, and a short “further reading” list.

About the Tutor

Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist, writer, broadcaster and teacher. He presents several Idler Academy online courses including courses on Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Psychotherapy and Dante. He has a PhD in philosophy, and degrees in theology and physics. His most recent books include – The Idler Guide To Ancient Philosophy (Idler Books), Love: All That Matters (Hodder) and Jung: How To Believe (Guardian Shorts) – and he has books on friendship, belief and the good life too. Mark can often be heard on Moral Maze. He began his professional life as a priest in the Church of England.

What you get

Video: three video lectures

Live online session: Meet the Tutor Q&A with Mark Vernon

Audio: the option to download and listen to the lessons in podcast form

Downloadable notes: in your printable notes you’ll find a summary of Mark’s talks, a timeline of William Blake’s life and works, a list of all works discussed, and a “further reading” list

Exclusive course forum: here you can chat and swap tips with fellow students from the Idler community

Quiz: Test what you’ve learned with our fun multiple choice quiz

Certificate: When you pass the quiz you will be sent a personalised Idler Academy Certificate of Completion


Course Outline

Lesson One: Blake’s Life, Times, Vision and Vocation (33 minutes)

Blake lived amidst the innovations and turbulence of eighteenth century London. In this lesson we find out how he developed a diagnosis of the troubles of his times which is still relevant to ours. We explore his embrace of life’s tensions and difficulties, which he called ‘contraries’. We feel the power of some of his best known poems and illustrations.

Lesson Two: Blake’s Midlife. Happiness, Breakdown, Recovery (32 minutes)

William and his wife Catherine spent some of their happiest years together in Lambeth and here Blake became well known for his engraving. However a move to Sussex proved a mistake for Blake and there followed a period of growing marginalisation. Mark examines how this part of his life led to Blake’s mature vision and message.

Lesson Three: Blake as a Guide for Our Age (31 minutes)

The work that Blake considered his masterpiece was the epic poem, Jerusalem The Emanation of The Giant Albion. The poem invites us to take the end of a golden string and follow where it leads. In this lesson we Mark unpacks the meaning of Blake’s fourfold vision. We look at what it might mean not only to enjoy Blake’s famous aphorisms and comments, but to go further and welcome his vitality and spirit into our lives.

Meet the Tutor: This is your chance to meet Mark Vernon and ask questions (one hour)

Everyone on this course along with all Idler Academy members will be invited to a special online meeting with Mark Vernon at 6pm BST, on Tuesday 2nd August 2022. The recording of this event will be added to the course after the event.