PhD Studentship | William Blake’s Conversations: Friendships, Networks, Followers | CDP with Tate and University of York

Tate and the Department of English and Related Literature, University of York, invite applications from eligible candidates for a full-time collaborative PhD studentship, funded for 48 months by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to commence 1 October 2019.

The visionary poet, artist and printmaker William Blake (1757–1827) is the exemplary imaginative artist. For successive waves of creative and imaginative people, from the artistic fraternity known as ‘The Ancients’ that gathered around him at the end of his life, through to very many creative artists working in different media, he has served as a model of the self-sustaining, free-wheeling, authentic creator. But in the present age of austerity, questions of unpaid labour, precarity and justice have been brought to the fore, and existing mythologies of creative independence are being questioned in fresh ways. The thesis would consider the succession of different networks Blake was part of during his life, and the shifting identities that he assumed in those contexts, as apprentice, art student, employee and protégé, as ‘The Interpreter’ for the Ancients, and as a prophetic figure for modern commentators. This project will offer the chance to scrutinise Blake’s work and imagination, by considering the friendships, dependencies, influences and associations which sustained him. It will involve re-examining an icon of Romantic creative isolation in terms resonant with present day creative cultures – in terms, that is, of co-production, collaboration and networks.

The project has been timed to coincide with the opening of the major Blake exhibition at Tate Britain in September 2019, and the re-dedication of a gallery space to the display of his work from Summer 2020.

For further details and how to apply:

Closing date for applications is Friday 31 May 2019.

Interviews will be held in June/July at Tate Britain.

For informal enquiries relating to the studentship, please contact Prof Jon Mee at
Questions regarding the application process should be addressed to the Departmental Manager Cathy Moore at with ‘York-Tate CDP’ in the subject line.