Public Event



            
Emblems and Early Modern Intellectual Networks

Mara R. Wade
Germanic Languages and Literatures
CAS Associate 2014-15

Emblems and Early Modern Intellectual Networks

 Emblems and Early Modern Intellectual Networks analyzes the emblem’s role in forging social networks and identities among intellectual elites. The study of emblematic practices propels Professor Wade’s research beyond textual and iconographic criticism to embrace perspectives of cultural transfer, book history, gender, and digital studies. The material artifacts of emblematic discourse—portraits, autograph albums, personal and corporate emblems, the decoration of public and private spaces, pastoral poetry, and court festival—reveal structures of communication that expand current critical perspectives. Professor Wade’s focus on emblematic sociability brings these hybrid practices into sharp relief. Years of engagement with print and manuscript sources, combined with a decade of digital work for the portal Emblematica Online, have advanced this research, and the research presented here, “Emblems and Social Networks,” focuses on the use of emblems to create interpersonal memory through a new kind of text—the album amicorum, or autograph album. Sometimes emblem books were interleaved with blank pages in order to be used as albums. Young men on their study tours presented these books to teachers, friends, and important persons, inviting them to inscribe their names and a maxim. Writers made their contributions near an emblem with which they wanted to be associated. This hybrid practice allowed owners to customize books and thus to shape their identity through their social connections. Women also had albums, and their albums document sociability in entirely different ways. Gendered uses of albums illustrating dynastic networks for women and learned connections for men confirm a highly flexible cultural practice.