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Mara R. Wade
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC),
Thomas Stäcker
Herzog August Bibliothek,Wolfenbüttel (HAB),
he essays in this collection all stem from a roundtable working conference on emblem
digitization entitled "Emblem Literature: Digital Modeling of the Interrelationships
between Texts and Images," financed by a TRANSCOOP grant from the Alexander von
Humboldt Foundation, and hosted by the Herzog August Bibliothek,Wolfenbüttel (HAB), Ger-
many, 11-13 September 2003.
The conference is part of a three-year project,"Emblematica On-
line," between the University of Illinois (UIUC) and the HAB supported by the TRANSCOOP
grant from the Humboldt Foundation.
The title of the present volume is intended to direct users' attention to the universality of the
specialized research conducted by the participants for a broad range of applications for digital col-
lections in the area of library and information science and for cultural heritage institutions.While
we focus on an esoteric genre from the Renaissance, the European emblem, our research is very
broad in its scope and is potentially useful for a wide range of subjects and artifacts.
The participants in this conference were invited on the merit of their long-term efforts in dig-
itizing the emblem, a bimedial genre which combines texts and images in an organic environ-
ment. These participants, who represent a number of projects and institutions across North
America and Europe, have worked for many years in the area of emblem digitization, developed
national projects associated with tier-one research collections, and invested much time and expert-
ise in furthering the research of both emblem literature and its presentation on the Web.This pio-
neering collaborative research group can be said to have established the field of emblem
digitization and is currently working to advance common standards and best practices for emblem
metadata and its harvesting, multilingual thesauri, interoperability, and user accessibility and cus-
tomizing for its projects. Our ultimate aim is to link our group of projects, providing multiple
points of access to a large corpus of illustrated Renaissance texts, while simultaneously offering
practical models for research in other disciplines.
o the uninitiated, the emblem is indeed an esoteric artifact from the Early Modern Period.
Its combinatory possibilities, however, associate it in many ways with the ideal of the Renais-
sance individual - a person of many gifts and surprising talents whose charm consists of fresh new
perspectives and engaging ideas.The emblem is very much the product of its age, combining texts
and images in innovative ways for educational, devotional, entertainment, political, and amorous
The ideal emblem is typically described as a tripartite structure, comprised of motto (inscrip-
tio), image (pictura), and epigram (subscriptio),
and appeared in all European vernacular languages
and Latin.While emblems decorated secular and sacred architecture, objets d'art, and even every-
day furniture and ephemeral art, such as triumphal arches for a monarch's entry,
often emblems
were published in books, and collections of emblems appearing in such volumes frequently, but
not always, centered on a special theme or topos.
There are emblem books that feature groups
For the conference report in Eng-
lish, see http://images.library.uiuc.
For the conference program, see
and for the abstracts, see http://
For a succinct definition of the
emblem, see the English Emblem
Book Project at Penn State University:
The focus of the Fifth International
Congress of the International Society
for Emblem Studies held 1999 in
Munich was the polyvalence of the
emblem, that is, its multiple levels of
meaning and diverse combinatory
possibilities for interpretation and
production of meaning. See Wolf-
gang Harms and Dietmar Peil, eds.,
unter Mitarbeit von Michael Wal-
tenberger, Polyvalenz und Multifunk-
tionalität der Emblematik, Mikro-
kosmos,Vol. 65 (Frankfurt: Lang,
2002).The articles in this double
volume are in English, German,
French, and Spanish.
See note 2 for a visualization of
the parts of an emblem.
For a collection of essays on
emblems not in books, see Gerhard
F. Strasser and Mara R.Wade, eds.,
Die Domänen des Emblems:Außerliter-
arische Anwendungen der Emblematik,
Wolfenbütteler Forschungen (Wies-
baden: Harrassowitz, 2004).
For a useful list of bibliographies
and other resources for emblem
books, see the University of Min-
nesota Library site: http://subject.lib.
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