The Seventh International Conference of the Society for Emblem Studies 2005

State of the Art Conference

STATE of the ART CONFERENCE to be held concurrent to Emblems in the Twenty-First Century: Materials and Media


Contact Person: Mara R. Wade, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,

The International Society for Emblem Studies will hold its seventh triennial world conference 24-30 July 2005 at UIUC. This conference, which generally attracts 100-125 participants from the Americas, Europe, Oceania and Asia, will provide the setting for a state of the art conference on a new phase in the digitization of rare Renaissance texts and images.

The plenary speaker, David Seaman, of the Digital Library Federation, and Dean John Unsworth, Dean of the Graduate School for Library and Information Science, UIUC, will present papers on digitization and Renaissance texts. Owing to the absolutely cutting-edge nature of their research, their precise topics are not yet concrete. Their biographical statements and the links provided there give ample indication of their suitability to this conference.

International Participants in the State of the Art Conference

Adams, Alison, French and Director of Centre for Emblems Studies, Glasgow
"Boissard's Images as Text”
The picturae in Boissard's 1588 Emblematum liber / Emblèmes latins are among the most complex in any emblem book. This makes them particularly difficult—and a rewarding challenge—f or modern readers, and, consequently they pose particular indexing problems in the context of digital searching. There are several texts attached in different ways to each emblem: inscriptions in Latin or Greek within the pictura; Boissard's Latin quatrain; a French sonnet by Pierre Joly; and also outside the printed version, Boissard's French commentary within an autograph manuscript. The present paper investigates the question of how legitimate it is to have recourse to any or all of these texts in indexing the pictura proper.

Boot, Peter, Emblem Project Utrecht
“Digital Emblem Resources in Action
One of the major innovations in Vaenius' Amoris divini emblemata is the presence of Divine Love and the Soul in all emblem pictures but one. This paper examines the ways in which these participants' actions (their gestures, the things they look at, the positions of their bodies) serve to heighten the spectators' interest and to reinforce the emblem's message. In many respects, Divine Love and the Soul are actors staging condensed representations of highly symbolic scenes from the drama of human salvation. Their presence turns the emblem pictures into something very much like theater stills. My paper explores the scope of this analogy.
In the process of conducting traditional emblem research, the paper also presents and uses tools for text analysis and annotation that can be employed in conjunction with the Emblem Project Utrecht digital editions. The paper argues that facilitating scholarly research does not stop at providing searchable material. The developers of digital editions should be prepared to support the many different kinds of activities that comprise scholarly research.

Brandhorst, Hans, Mnemosyne
“Subject Access to Images and Texts”
The creation of subject access to the pictorial parts of emblems has long been recognized as a self-evident problem of emblem digitization projects. Subject, themes, motives, and iconographic detail have to be described first to make them retrievable. The problem of retrieving information from the textual parts of emblems, however, is not as readily recognized. The presence of an electronic text, available for full text searching, disguises the fact that there is a difference between the retrieval of words and the retrieval of concepts. Moreover, the retrieval of the concepts and ideas expressed by a sixteenth-century text seems, at first glance, to be a problem that is very different from the retrieval of visual information, described in e.g., modern English. With the help of some practical examples I propose to compare the various types of retrieval, i.e., of pictorial details, of words, and of concepts, to see whether it is not only possible, but also useful to apply the same method of indexing to the various parts of emblems.

Graham, David, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Corpus electronicum cano: Some Implications of Very Large Electronic Emblem Corpora”
It is now technologically feasible to construct a comprehensive electronic corpus of European emblem books, but as with all possibilities opened up through advances in technology, the question of whether such an initiative would be desirable remains open. This paper will examine some potential implications of a commitment on the part of the scholarly community to creating very large electronic corpora: such a project would entail not only technological, but financial and intellectual consequences. On the technological front, the radically reduced cost of mass storage has recently brought within the financial reach of academic research consortia disk arrays of a size sufficient to house the entire body of emblem books. The major costs of creating a comprehensive emblem corpus are therefore likely to be associated not with equipment but with the labor-intensive process of digitization itself and more particularly the tagging of images through a controlled vocabulary such as ICONCLASS. It seems clear that when entire corpora become readily available in a common format, new possibilities for scholars are thereby created: these obviously include such innovations as the ability to draw conclusions based on the ready display and examination of a far wider selection of visual and textual material than ever before. It is entirely legitimate, however, to ask whether the benefits likely to be derived by scholars from a comprehensive electronic corpus are worth the cost and effort associated with them. I will argue that the inherently public nature of a comprehensive electronic web-accessible data set, whether centralized or distributed, may be the single most important advance: it makes possible – even mandatory – the replication of research results in a way previously associated far more with the natural sciences than with the humanities. This fact too entails consequences for scholars and for institutions.

Lopez Poza, Sagrario, La Coruña, Spain
“Spanish Emblems in the OpenEmblem Portal”
Owing to the independent genesis of the Spanish Emblem Project under the auspices of the project to digitize all important works of the Golden Age of Spanish literature, our project necessarily had to adhere to differing practices in creating images, structuring the databases, and establishing our search interfaces. The present paper examines how the metadata from the Spanish emblem project can be harvested using OAI and used in the OpenEmblem portal.

Opitz, Andrea, Herzog August Bibliothek (HAB), Wolfenbüttel
“The Emblem Inside the Emblem Book—The Structuring and Indexing of Texts and Images”
The “Wolfenbüttel Digital Library” presents in digital facsimile selected items from its collections which are rare, outstanding, frequently used, and currently most relevant for research. A special genre of Renaissance publications, the Emblem Book consists of both texts and images. Based on the experience gathered from the digitization projects on both illustrated festival books and emblem books at the Herzog August Bibliothek, the paper discusses the possibilities and problems of indexing electronically supplied Emblem Books. My presentation focuses on the following questions: What is the most suitable form of content indexing (texts and images), what sort of metadata may be applicable? Which standards like TEI, XML, OAI can be taken into consideration? How can we realize cooperation with other projects?

Peil, Dietmar, University of Munich
“A Church—or a Library of Emblem Books? The Possibility of Linking an Emblem Database with a Virtual Tour of a Baroque Church”
The church with the richest emblematic decoration in Munich—a city with many churches in which there are emblems—is the Church of the Holy Trinity, built in the early eighteenth century. This paper explores the emblematic program of this church and its focus on the Holy Trinity, using digital emblems and emblem databases for my research, thereby illustrating the new levels of research made possible by projects participating in the OpenEmblem portal.

Rawles, Stephen, University Library and HATII, Glasgow
“Fleshing the Spine: Practical Application of Information Headings in the Glasgow Project”
At the Wolfenbüttel conference in 2003, the participants in the OpenEmblem working group unanimously agreed to the Glasgow “spine of information” for indexing emblem books and presenting them on the web. Since that time, the Glasgow research group has received a substantial, highly competetive research grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB, UK) to digitize a discreet corpus of 25 French emblem books and create the metadata for them. My paper presents the problems and solutions to working with our template, the “spine of information,” in the practical world of the Glasgow project.

Spangler, Jonathon, Centre for Emblem Studies, Glasgow
“The Glasgow Emblem Project and the OpenEmblem Portal”
As the research co-ordinator for the Glasgow Emblem project, my position allows me to investigate practical ways in which our project can migrate its metadata for French emblem books into the OpenEmblem Portal hosted by the UIUC. On the basis of comparison with the present data sets from the UIUC and Emblem Project Utrecht (EPU), I will discuss ways in which we can bring our digitization project into the portal.

Stäcker, Thomas, Herzog August Bibliothek (HAB), Wolfenbüttel
“Practical Issues of the Wolfenbüttel Emblem Schema”
Participants in the OpenEmblem research initiative decided to develop a common XML-schema allowing the exchange of metadata among the various international emblem projects. A preliminary draft was published on the website of the HAB in Wolfenbüttel in late 2003, which has been continually improved since then as a result of the ongoing discussion about the representation and indexing most suitable for digitized emblems. This paper will discuss the details and implications of this schema and its application to various forms of emblems. It will focus on questions such as the relationship to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), different encoding levels, particular forms of emblems (e.g., tripartite emblems), and image indexing.

Weston, David, Keeper of Rare Books, Glasgow University Library, Glasgow
This paper examines the implications of a major digitization project and its associated database and search capabilities for tier-1 research libraries. It further examines the desirability of both developing and existing in consort with the related research groups in the OpenEmblem portal. From the perspective of the curator of rare books, several levels of such projects are discussed: the financial aspects and funding, the material world of the texts and their images, and the virtual world of their existence on the internet. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the implications of such research projects for the rare book librarian in the post modern world.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Participants

Kilton, Tom
“Subject Access Provided by an Emblem Portal: A Common Standard for Students and Scholars”
The emblem scholar, the librarian, and critical writings on emblems no longer need to serve as intermediaries to assist students and scholars in identifying emblems based on a common theme. With the development of electronic portals, such as the UIUC OpenEmblem portal, the relatively uniform access protocol to a family of emblem databases enables the researcher to identify quickly emblems related by a common theme or topos. To ensure continued progress for such access, the interplay of scholar, librarian, and technician is, and will always remain, crucial. The present paper explores common standards for students’ and scholars’ access as we develop the OpenEmblem portal.

Koetter, Nuala
“Harvesting of International Collections of Emblem Metadata and the OpenEmblem Portal”
In this presentation, I will discuss the most recent implementation of the OpenEmblem Portal software. The portal allows for the use of harvested metadata from a variety of institutions, each of which is developing metadata according to different standards and schemas. I will discuss how this metadata can be combined to create a searchable interface to international emblem collections. In addition, I will showcase some of the additional features of the Portal interface. Independently of the portal, I will also showcase the digitized emblem collection at the University of Illinois and the software which is being developed and used specifically for that collection.

Sandore, Beth
“Digital Emblem Collections—Approaches to Metadata Creation and Interoperability”
The international emblem community has converged around the digitization of emblem books as an opportunity to embark on an open exchange and ongoing discussion of best practices and standards. The standards that are being focused on include those related to metadata creation, the use of vocabularies for subject and thematic access, protocols for interoperable searching across collections, and image capture quality and preservation. We are all working essentially with similar materials in a well-defined genre, but our local needs and our research perspectives on these collections often result in different approaches to access. This paper looks at current best (and emerging) practices in the work on collection-level and item-level description for digital collections. Reflecting recent discussions in this community about developing a method to search across digitized emblem collections internationally, this paper explores practical ways of assuring interoperability and reaching our goals.

Wade, Mara R.
“Showcasing Digital Resources: Emblems and Renaissance Festival Books”
This paper focuses on an emblematic ballet, Von der Unbeständigkeit der Weltlichen Dinge (1650), performed and printed in celebration of a dynastic wedding—and celebrations commemorating the Peace of Westphalia—at the North German court at Gottorf in Schleswig-Holstein. Relying on my previously published article, “Emblems and German Protestant Court Culture: The Duchess Marie Elisabeth's Ballet in Gottorf (1650),” Emblematica, 9 (1995), 45-109, I demonstrate here how to use our growing corpus of digitized emblems books and databases for conducting new research. In addition to showcasing the digital emblems associated with this important cultural text, I will also rely on the digital facsimile of this ballet in the Wolfenbüttel Digital Library, and through establishing bi-directional links point the way toward new forms of digital research. This paper has significant implications for post-modern scholarly research at several levels: 1) the ability to reach new conclusions as a result of greater access to traditionally rare texts via the WWW, 2) suggestions for new tools for such digital research, 3) the linking both virtually and intellectually of new research, 4) new methods of dissemination, writing, and reading modern scholarly research in traditional fields, and 5) new ways of understanding the interface between Renaissance printed works and digital resources.

Graduate Student Participants
Marshall Billings, “Establishing Metadata for Complex Emblems: Some Case Study from the UIUC Emblem Project”
Patricia Hardin, “Digital Gryphius: Emblems in the Poetry of Andreas Gryphius”
Carsten Wilmes, “Optimizing Emblem Webpages: Suggestions for Greater Uniformity Across the Existing Emblem Websites”
Elizabeth Black Owens, “French Emblems on the Internet”