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Introducing Emblem Books

DSCN0888One of the HBLL’s current Art in the Library exhibits, Todd Stilson’s Necrocoactionism: Joint Ventures with the Deceased, features three of Special Collections’ emblem books. Emblem books originated in Europe in the 16th century. They feature images inspired by proverbs, mottoes, epigrams, and other pithy quotes, with the text printed alongside the image. Readers were invited to reflect on the text and how its meaning or moral was represented symbolically within the image.

Special Collections owns several dozen emblem books, spanning from 1536 through the mid-19th century. We even have a modern example printed by the Arion Press in 1987! You can find them in the library catalog by searching for “emblem books” as a genre term. The Art in the Library exhibit can be viewed in the auditorium gallery on Level 1 through the end of April 2015.


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