Emblemata Politica


This is a digital resource about a remarkable book and the stories it tells. The book at the heart of this resource is a newly identified volume in the collection of the Newberry Library: Georg Rem’s Inscriptiones picturae et emblemata quae in aula magna curiae Norimbergensis publice extant (VAULT Wing MS 279). The Inscriptiones is a hybrid book: it contains a printed copy of Rem’s and Peter Isselburg’s Emblemata Politica (1617), which depicts emblems from the Great Hall of the Nürnberg town hall, surrounded by pages of notes and descriptions written by Rem himself no later than 1620.
This digital resource is at the heart of this project. In the pages that follow, you will be able to explore Rem’s unique manuscript and learn about the many stories it has to tell us about its creators, their interests, and the cultural forces that shaped their experience. “Emblematica Politica in Context” underscores the importance of funding long-term research, the synergies between research libraries and scholars, and the excitement for scholars, students, librarians, and research staff working across the disciplines of book history, Renaissance Studies, and digital humanities. We hope you share our enthusiasm for the work presented here and find it useful to your research and teaching.

The Project

As a long-term fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mara Wade identified this manuscript on the second day of her 2016-2017 research residency at the Newberry. It was an exciting moment, and Lia R. Markey and Wade decided to build a project around this important discovery.

Rem’s unique book inspired a major research project: “Emblematica Politica in Context,” led by Mara R. Wade, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Lia Markey, Director of the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library, Chicago. The project, generously funded by the Samuel S. Kress foundation, includes a cooperative research initiative between the Newberry and the University of Illinois, an international symposium, a forthcoming print publication, and this digital resource. All this work was produced in a wholly co-operative effort between researchers and staff at the Newberry Library; faculty and graduate student researchers at the University of Illinois; and scholars from the US, Germany, and Israel.

Research and Transcriptions

During 2018, Mara Wade worked with two graduate students, Andrew Schwenk, Germanic Languages & Literatures, and Jessica Wells, Classics, from the University of Illinois on this manuscript. These students studied paleography, and learning by doing, they transcribed this Latin and German manuscript. They traveled to the Newberry to study it and find other Newberry collection materials – such as other emblem books, maps, chronicles, biographies, and histories – that helped explain why Rem chose to make this manuscript in the way that he did.

Some of their travel was also supported by University of Illinois consortium funding through the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry. This additional travel funding allowed the students to dive even more deeply into research and take part in related activities at the Newberry, a significant benefit of being consortium members. On campus they met weekly to review their transcriptions and plan the next research steps.

Their work resulted in the full transcription of the manuscript in Latin and German, and is viewable here. Owing to additional summer support from the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, Andrew Schwenk translated the early modern German sections of the text into English, which is also on view. We hope to translate the Latin at a later date. Working under the supervision of Mara Wade, and in close collaboration with the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry, these students engaged in advanced original research into sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Nürnberg. In addition to the transcription and the translation, they have interpreted emblems and described related research objects for the website. Mara Wade published “Emblematica Politica in Context: Georg Rem’s Manuscript at the Newberry Library,” Emblematica: Essays in Word and Image 1 (2017): 227-34, announcing the find to scholars.

Transcription and Translation Conventions

Transcription Conventions
The transcription of the Latin in VAULT Wing MS 279 uses the following conventions. Distinctions between consonants and vowels are rendered according to modern standards, for example: the letter J represents the consonant form of I, the letter V represents the consonant form of U. The use of capital and lowercase letters is maintained in the transcription. Ligatured AE/ae (Æ/æ) and OE/oe (Œ/œ) are maintained in the transcription. Common abbreviations are silently expanded. Abbreviations for titles and honorifics are not expanded. Following standard conventions for presenting Latin text in print, macra over vowels are not rendered. Where it appears, Greek is rendered into lowercase letters. Catch words are maintained in the transcription. Words that continue onto the next page are indicated with a dash.

The transcription of the early modern German in VAULT Wing MS 279 uses the following conventions. The letter groupings 'cz' and 'tz' have all been rendered as 'tz'. Additionally, catch words have been maintained in the transcription. Words that continue onto the next page are indicated with a dash. Keeping with the conventions used in the transcription of the Latin sections, Latin words used in the primarily German sections are entirely capitalized. Page 58 has a drawing of a heart in the middle of a sentence. This drawing has been rendered in the transcription as '<3'. Finally, as is noted on the transcription of page 113, pages 113-120 contain marginalia regarding the sources the author drew from to write his epigrams. The reader is asked to consult the digital facsimile of the printed book to see these.
Translation Conventions
This translation of the early modern German in VAULT Wing MS 279 uses the following conventions. As is standard practice in the Classics when using Latin in an English setting, all lone Latin nouns are in the nominative case. Next, the differing structure of German and English resulted in certain parts of sentences in the translation being on different pages from the original. Therefore, catch words were eliminated from the translation. The term German Rathaus, town hall, is translated at first mention then kept in German throughout the rest of the text. Virtues in Latin are fully capitalized keeping with the conventions used in the transcription. Additionally, when a Latin term is not immediately recognizable, an English equivalent is given. These English equivalents have their first letters capitalized. Finally, the epigrams in the second half of the translation are translated in prose, rather than maintaining the poetic style of the original. However, the lines of the epigrams are kept as much as is linguistically possible.

Digitization and Citation

The Digital Initiatives and Services department at the Newberry scanned this unique manuscript as presented in the Newberry Digital Library and made high resolution images available for ingestion into Emblematica Online, a portal for emblem studies. This work was undertaken by Timothy W. Cole and Myung-Ja K. Han of the University Library at the University of Illinois. In the portal users can now study from a single point of access the various copies of the Emblematica Politica from the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Newberry Library, Chicago. Each copy has various levels of information useful for scholars and students, and together they offer high quality images, transcriptions, translations, and Iconclass indexing and have browsable and searchable information at the level of the books, emblems, and emblem elements.

These works are freely available for research and study on the web. You can cite them as “Courtesy of Emblematica Online, name of library,” (that is, University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign; Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel; or Newberry Library, Chicago, depending on which copy you cite from.) You may see the digital copy of VAULT Wing MS 279 in Emblematica Online here.

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