CFP: Emblems and interarts studies

“Muta poesis, pictura loquens” (Mute poetry, speaking picture)
12th International Conference of the Society for Emblem Studies
June 22 - 27, 2020
Stichtag: 01.09.2019

Taking as motto “Muta poesis, pictura loquens” (Mute poetry, speaking picture), the Latin version of “Muda Poesia, Pintura que fala”, the 12th International Conference of the Society for Emblem Studies will take place in Coimbra (Portugal), from Monday 22 June to Saturday 27 June, 2020.

The conference will cover the entire universe of emblem studies and papers on every aspect of emblematics are welcome. Following on from the traditional thematic lines pursued at previous conferences, this meeting intends to stimulate new research approaches. Additionally, it aims to foster emblem studies and related issues in Portugal.


1. Symbolic language and emblematics
This section pays attention to the dialogue between emblematics and parallel forms of symbolic representation, such as allegories, armorial bearings, coats of arms, devices, heraldry, sigillography and numismatics. It can also be extended to the current use of logo-iconic compositions in logos and trademarks, for instance.

2. Ars emblematica: theory and practice
This thematic orientation focuses on the conception and production of emblem books, emphasizing aspects related to authors, publishers, printers, engravers, patrons, draftsmen, translators, commentators and other agents involved. It also appeals for studies on themes and topics displayed by emblematic tradition, especially concerning their classical or medieval sources, evolution of the motives, significant changes and impact on the Modern Age literature.

3. Emblem books and their readers
Considering that emblem books assumed a significant editorial success in the Modern Period, the study of that phenomenon can provide information on the history of books and circulation of works. Therefore, further research on inventories and ownership marks in order to show the place of emblem books in collections and libraries is welcome. Besides, this section comprises papers on reception of emblematic models in Renaissance and Baroque literature.

4. Mute poetry, speaking pictures: Camões and emblematics
Echoing the theoretical issues about the idiosyncrasy of the emblematic culture in each country, this topic invites Camões scholars to discuss the reception of Alciato in the work of the Portuguese most famous poet. Although Emblemata were never printed in Portugal, Sebastian Stockhamer wrote his notes to the first book in Coimbra, around 1552, showing that emblems had already reached Lusitania. Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524-1580) was quite acquainted with the ars emblematica, since he uses its terminology and composed some logo-iconic devices in Goa. Furthermore, the poet questions the relation between “mute poetry” and “speaking paintings”, using terms that recall Alciato’s “mute signs” (tacitis notis). It is also remarkable that all Baroque commentators of Camonian works quote Alciato to interpret and elucidate his symbolic poetry, suggesting intertextual links. This approach enables therefore a new direction to Camonian hermeneutics.

5. Emblems and interarts studies
Taking into account the historical development of emblem studies, it is intended to foster new directions in research, discussing, among other subjects, the results of multidisciplinary approaches led by interarts studies. This topic deals with the vast field of applied emblematics, illustrating the use of logo-iconic compositions in different areas: festivals, architectural spaces, painting, sculpture, ceramic tiles and decorative arts (furniture, textiles, domestic objects). Besides, it also aims to scan how emblematic strategies and text/image relations survive in the contemporary forms of visual culture (photography, films, comics, graphic novel, performative shows).

6. Emblems and Jesuit visual culture
Paying homage to the inheritance of the Society of Jesus in Portugal, and particularly in Coimbra, this topic seeks to carry on studies on Jesuit emblems in European context. Further research is required in order to interpret the extensive bibliographical catalogues now available and evaluate the real impact of emblematic compositions as instruments of moral instruction. Widely used in meditation exercises, pedagogic practice, publications and performances, Jesuit emblems played an important role in religious propaganda. Researchers are invited to show evidence of this strategy, considering, for example, the case of Herman Hugo’s Pia Desideria, which was read by Catholics and Protestants, providing inspiration for many authors and artists. Papers on the production or reception of emblems in the seven provinces of the Assistentia Lusitaniae are particularly welcome.

7. Emblems and Digital Humanities
The significant increase of digital projects related to emblematics in recent years provided a substantial online corpus, which facilitates and supports comparative research. Constructive discussion on this matter is a topic to develop. Additionally, new projects, databases and websites are encouraged to be presented.

Papers and entire panels on every aspect of your research into emblematics, in addition to these topics, are welcome.
Papers can be given in Portuguese, English, French, German,
Italian or Spanish. Please let us know if you would like to suggest a panel or moderate a section. Brief CV (max. 100 words), titles and abstracts (max. 250 words) for a twenty-minute presentation should be sent to by 1 September 2019.

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