Prof. Robert Essick Delivers Distinguished Humanist Lecture

By Robert Bastone, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing
One of UCR’s most distinguished faculty, Professor Robert Essick, was honored Tuesday, January 20th, by the Center for Ideas and Society. The center recognizes one distinguished faculty a year in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, as a Distinguished Humanist. This year’s ceremony featured a lecture by Professor Essick entitled “Knowledge on the Internet: The Example of William Blake.” The lecture and virtual tour of Essick’s Blake Archive provided faculty, students and the general public with insight into the fast growing medium of online media, art, and learning resources.

The Center for Ideas and Society’s Distinguished Humanist Lector honor has been awarded every year since its inauguration in 1991-92. At that time, Professor Essick, served on its advisory board. His collaboration with others, like the Center’s current Director, renowned University Professor Emory Elliot, helped to create the honor that Prof. Essick would later receive. This year’s lecture was attended by many of the University’s prominent faculty members, as well as Chancellor Frances Cordova and Dean Patricia O’Brien. Past recipients for the honor have come from a wide range of specialties within the humanities and represent the best and the brightest that UCR has to offer.

Prof. Essick’s work on the Blake Archive, a collaborative online resource of the works of William Blake, has earned him many recent accolades. Aside from this year’s Distinguished Humanist honors, he and his partners in the endeavor were also recently awarded the Fifth Modern Language Association Prize for Scholarly Edition. This highly prestigious honor is presented biennially to the editor of a book or work in any field that presents the text in a highly specialized manner and employs the highest editorial prowess. Last year’s December honor, marked the first time the recipient presented his/her piece in an electronic medium.

The Blake Archive, for which Prof. Essick has received so much recognition, can be found at http://www.blakearchive.org. It is one of the first and most elaborate fully searchable and scalable sites in the humanities. Professor Essick is world-renowned for his William Blake expertise, and has authored several books on Blake and his works. Currently, he is teaching in the English department here at UCR, and plans to continue work on his archive well into the future. Unfortunately Professor Essick has planed to retire by the end of this school year.

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