A Printing House in Hell
using Blake's "The Tiger" as an example of creation/transformation
 from "Designing a New
 Pedagogical Practice for Romantic Studies"
              In response to the massive shifts in science and technology that accompany the
               industrial revolution, Romantic writers begin a process of reconceptualizing subjectivity
               and the social space it entails. Thus, Wordsworth defines the Lake District and the
               Leech Gatherer as mutually constitutive--an idea of space and selfhood set against
               industrialization. Blake's radical project of revisioning space, time, and being attempts to
               reconfigure Cartesian subjectivity altogether, a project made possible by his "infernal"
               use of technology. The shift from the page to the screen involves a new technology, as
               well as new modes of discourse and subjectivity. We aim to explore the strange
               correspondence between our own effort to design academic practices for the screen
               and the Romantic project of re-visioning the printed text. The continued predominance
               of print metaphors (as in "homepage") in the discourse of the Web indicates that these
               practices, and the modes of subject formation they might entail, have not yet been
               invented. As scholars of Romanticism, with a range of Romantic texts that seek to
               redefine textuality and the production of subjectivity at our disposal, we can be an
               extraordinary resource in inventing the new practices of the screen.
               Using the Web to display Romantic texts and using Romantic texts to shape our Web
               practices, we have set up a series of experiments or performances. Each performance
               works with a particular type of transformation immanent within a particular Romantic
               text. For us, the strange correspondence between contemporary work on the Web and
               Romantic work on print texts comes to life in transformation. A variety of forces come
               together in a nexus of textual figures. These forces are never static; they combine and
               recombine such that their changing relations transform the figures on the page.
               Transformation is not an example of "organic growth" so common in Romantic
               self-representation; rather, it combines divergent forces into un-natural couplings. We
               have liberated the monstrous, that which remains undemonstrable or too often unseen in
               print text.
               We use the Web as a field on which to reveal these transformations. By introducing
               motion and time into the text, we re-think textual stability. The projects we display here
               move at different speeds and glide across the screen in nomadic fashion. Furthermore,
               by combining forces which are normally kept separate, we re-think subjectivity.
               The changes we depict are not based on analogy between objects. Analogical thought
               is based on imitation.
               Imitation respects the boundaries between molar wholes while setting up
               comparisons between bodies considered separately, as entities unto themselves. It
               conceives of the body as a structural whole with determinate parts in stable
               interaction with one another. The model is the organism: a body is made up of parts
               (organs) with identifiable characteristics, supposedly intrinsic qualities, which
               predispose the whole they compose to certain habitual patters of action.
               (Brian Massumi A Users Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia, 96)
               Transformation does not respect boundary lines and habitual patterns. Instead,
               fragments detach from the organism known as textual figure. These fragments call out to
               each other across a distance. Many of the transformations that we perform in this Web
               site involve deformation of textual figures and reformation of fragments to provide a new
               way of seeing the forces at work in the text.
               Becoming opens the organs to new dimensions, opens "the doors of perception," as
               Blake espouses. Instead of the same forces acting on a body for the same functions,
               new forces are applied so that the body functions differently or a new body is formed
               and so that no organs remain caught within the redundancy of identity. Analogy works
               by transcendence and abstraction while transformation, becoming-other, works by
               immanence. Becoming begins with the concrete particulars of the text and liberates and
               performs their local, immanent forces.

               Purpose and Design
               The challenge for our profession in regard to electronic texts is one of theorization and
               design: How do we tailor the set of academic practices we are experts in, practices that
               are inextricably linked to the book, to the space of the screen? How can we best use
               these "virtual spaces" for pedagogy? In this paper, we will address these questions in
               relation to a series of experimental projects we have under way in the Networked
               Writing Environment at the University of Florida (the N.W.E. is a Unix-based system of
               12 servers and 186 xterminals that are in use by over 2,600 students and 80
               instructors). We are attempting to catalyze a reaction between Romantic poetry and
               electronic media to examine the pedagogical potential of the recontextualization of
               subjectivity that these new media make possible.
               Victor Hugo once suggested that "Romanticism" was the "liberalism of literaure," a
               movement that unleashed the liberatory potential of writing, freeing the artist from the
               constraints of tradition and encouraging revolutionary political thinking. Romanticism
               marked a paradigm shift for Hugo from a literature emphasizing objectivity, convention,
               and the grandeur of mytho-historical themes to a literature emphasizng the imaginative
               and emotional life of the individual. Subsequent literary critics, sharing Hugo's
               conviction, have considered this Romantic ideology to be central to Western democratic
               society, a constitutive component of modern notions of individuality. For this reason, we
               conceived a literature and composition course, not about the "Romantic period" per se,
               but about the process of reconceptualizing subjectivity and the social space it entails that
               began in that period and is foundational to our conceptions of literature, culture, and
               individuality today. This framework allows us to explore a wide range of writing,
               focusing on how the "romantic" project of re-visioning both self and nature gets taken up
               and reworked in subsequent literary texts. From Wordsworth's wanderings in search of
               himself in the Lake District, we move to similar journeys in Whitman's "Song of the
               Open Road" and Kerouac's On the Road. With Blake's visionary cartography of
               England, we juxtapose Ginsberg's hallucinatory topography of America in "Howl." And
               against the strangely virtual spaces of Romantic "Nature", we consider the equally
               hyperreal terrain of postmodern consumer capitalism in White Noise .
               We conceived our course, entitled "Writing About Visionary Selves and Virtual
               Landscapes," as a collaborative effort in which we pool our resources and deploy our
               individual teaching strengths in a complementary manner. The team teaching effort is part
               of reconfiguring notions of self and space that we discuss above. As Deleuze and
               Guittari explain, "Since each of us was several, there was already quite a crowd." With
               more than one teacher, conventional notions of student-teacher relations are disturbed.
               Likewise, to pass on the non-individuated, non-competitive mode of learning, students
               are asked to become team students (several students banding together to aid each
               other) just as Bill and Ron have become team teachers.
               In teaching Romanticism in the electronic classroom, our main focus is to show the
               relation between inner landscapes, the outer social sphere, and "Nature," where authors
               often seek spaces to resonate with their visions. The N.W.E. (Networked Writing
               Environment) allows us to experiment with "new" approaches to learning--online
               discussions, e-mail panels, using and creating electronic texts and virtual spaces--in
               order to better achieve this goal. In this sense the Web and the Moo function both as
               scholarly apparatus and pedagogical tools. In both cases, the tools help reconfigure our
               interaction with the literary text because the text is represented in a new mode--a mode
               better charaterized as "performative" than as "interactive"--as well as in a new medium.
               We wish to emphasize that our approach is experimental, an attempt to put theory into
               practice in the electronic classroom. Ultimately, we hope that our students' engagement
               with the electronic text will lead them to rethink the production and representation of
               subjectivity and social space in the Romantic period and in our own.
               The assignments in "Visionary Selves and Virtual Landscapes" can be divided into two
               broad categories:
                    a series of short, argumentative response papers in which students are asked to
                    analyze and interpret assigned texts,
                    five larger creative/experimental electronic performances (explained below) in
                    which students attempt to grapple with the issues of textual instability, subjectivity,
                    and the contruction of space we discuss in class, using the studied texts as
               Prelude: Constructing a "Monstrous" Homepage Identity.
               Performance 1: Person, Place, and Thing in Romantic Texts.
               Performance 2: The Encounter Between the Human and the Natural Worlds.
               Performance 3: Lines of Flight for Revisioning Dominant Paradigms of Subjectivity.
               Performance 4: Representations of the Hyperreal City.
               Performance 5: Finale! Virtual Gainesville.

What Immortal Hand or Eye?
 from "Designing a New
 Pedagogical Practice for Romantic Studies"
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
 In the forests of the night
 What immortal hand or eye
 Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

 In what distant deeps or skies
 Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
 On what wings dare he aspire? 
 What the hand dare seize the fire?

 And what shoulder, and what art,
 Could twist the sinews of thy heart,
 And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

 What the hammer? what the chain?
 In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
 Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
 And water'd heaven with their tears,
 Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
  In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

 What Immortal Hand or Eye? 

               Engraving in the eighteenth century was the handmaid of oil painting. Engravers were 
               commissioned to transpose the oil paintings of masters into engravings to be printed in 
               books. Since engravings can be pressed out one after the other with minimal 
               discrepancies between each printing, engraving became a sign of the mass production of 
               images. Blake breaks with the use of engravings as merely mass production of a 
               transposed oil painting. He uses engraving as an art form in and of itself, rather than have 
               it at the service of oil painting and book printing. 

               Additionally, rather than use engraving for standardized, mass produced images, Blake's 
               method of printing caused "imperfections" or variations in each impression of a plate. 
               These imperfections serve as part of the uniquness of each plate. In "The Tyger" the 
               striping of the tyger changes from plate to plate. One can read this striping as a marking 
               of sin or imperfection. "Stripping" is found throughout the Songs of Innocence and 
               Experience, from "And I made a rural pen/ And I stain'd the water clear" to "And mark 
               in every face I meet,/ Marks of weakness, marks of woe" ("Introduction to Songs of 
               Innocence" and "London"). There is a felix culpa claim made here in that imperfection, 
               and even sin, produces a creative individuality. 

               The marks or stripes of the tyger in the plate can also be found on the tree next to the 
               tyger. In almost every plate of "The Tyger" Blake renders the stripes at the base of the 
               tree the same color and shape as the stripes of the tyger. The stripes move from the 
               tyger to the tree. Furthermore, the branches at the top of the plate stripe the verbal text 
               of the poem. And finally, the cryptic "y" of "tyger" marks or stripes the word differently 
               from the standardized spelling, "tiger." The "y" of "tyger" serves as a mark of difference. 
               (The use of "y" also highlights other key words with "y": thy, eye, and symmetry.) By 
               deviating from standardization, the textual figure (word and image) is marked as different 
               from a habitual rendering of the figure. This difference is the place of fragmentation and 

               In our transformation, the viewer's eyes see the visual difference made by Blake's hands, 
               as well as the variant verbal texts in a state of becoming . The verbal portion of the 
               transformation mutates between Erdman's edition, the Norton Anthology's 
               standardized version, and early drafts of the poem from Blake's notebook. The visual 
               portion reflects Blake's aversion to stablizing meaning (notice, for instance, the changing 
               expressions and coloring of the tyger). The mass of verbal and visual differences and 
               transformations at work in any series of Blake's plates provokes the question: 

                                     What immortal hand or eye, 
                                  Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Designed and Performed by
F. William Ruegg & Ronald S. Broglio
English Department, University of Florida.