The Study and Digitisation of Italian Emblems

A corpus of 16th-century emblem books composed by Italian authors made available to browsing and searching, both in the form of photographic reproductions and as transcribed texts.

Visit the project website

An emblem page from Diverse Imprese by Andrea Alciato
An emblem page from Diverse Imprese by Andrea Alciato

The website was realised within a EU funded project for the study and digitisation of Italian emblem books. Its aim is to offer to a wider audience the opportunity of an easier and more flexible access to a selection of emblematic materials from the Stirling Maxwell Collection, housed by Glasgow University Library.

The generic label "emblem literature" covers a wide variety of texts whose common feature is to combine images and words. The use of images and the many translations or multilingual editions of such texts allowed emblem books to circulate across Europe, encouraging a fertile dialectic between specific national traditions and common cultural elements. The huge textual and visual corpus fed by the enormous fortune this genre enjoyed in the 16th and 17th centuries, has to be considered not only as a sociological and historical document of European culture, but also as an extraordinary - though not yet adequately valued - artistic heritage. The corpus currently accessible from this website focuses on the role played by Italian authors, starting from Paolo Giovio and Andrea Alciato, in the seminal stages of the emblem and of the impresa, and on the specific conjunction that in the Italian context was realised between these forms and the prose forms of the dialogue and the tract.

Selected books are transcribed in their entirety in XML, validated against a slightly customized version of TEI Lite and encoded in UTF8. The corpus is then processed to create a single file which is used as the data source for browsing the pages and emblems/impresa. A second version of this file is further optimised for free text searching, using text processing features available in XSLT2.This allows for case insensitive searches that also ignore accented characters. In this version of the text words separated by hyphens at the end of lines are joined and it is also possible to search for regular spellings of words as well as the text displayed. The website content is delivered using PHP5 XML extensions based on the libxml2 library. Searches are processed and content delivered using XSLT.

Main contact: Donato Mansueto

Developer: Graeme Cannon

Start year: 2005

End year: 2006

Funded by: European Commission

Subject areas: FrenchInformation Studies

Keywords: ArtDigital EditionDigitisationTranscriptionXML

Record last updated 2020-01-28