What is an Emblem
and Why Does it Matter?

An open conversation

Proscenium vitæ humanæ, 1627

The Society for Emblem Studies exists to foster the study of emblem books and related materials in literature and the visual arts, their origins and influence on other cultural forms, in all periods, countries and languages. The current membership includes teachers and students of literature, art-historians, librarians and archivists, collectors of antiquarian books, historians of Renaissance and Baroque cultures, students of comparative literature, and scholars interested in the wider relationship between literature and the visual arts, theories or representation, iconology and iconography.


Members of the Society receive a quarterly news bulletin, and are entitled to attend the various meetings, colloquia, and other activities organised by or for the Society. Since the study of emblem books is a highly interdisciplinary field, the Society aims to provide a channel of communication for students and scholars seeking collaborative assistance from specialists with expertise in different fields than their own. The languages of the Society are the recognised languages of international scholarship.

From the Study of Letters, Comes Immortality

Triton, Neptune’s trumpeter, whose tail shows him as a sea-monster, his face as a god of the sea, is surrounded by an encircling snake which bites on its own tail, gripped fast in its mouth. Fame follows after men of outstanding intellect and their noble achievements, and bids them be read throughout all the world.

The Society holds its major international conference at three-yearly intervals, which always includes a general call for papers. It organises two or more sessions at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. The Society is affiliated to the Renaissance Society of America, and normally sponsors a session at the Society’s annual conference, in addition to a number of occasional symposia each year in Europe, North America and elsewhere, including online. Local groups which carry out programs of research, or institutions with a particular interest in emblem books may apply for affiliation to the Society.

Next Stop: Vienna!

The Society for Emblem Studies 13th International Conference will take in place in Vienna, July-August 2025.

Collaborative Bibliography

In an effort to improve accessibility and preservation in our field, we are launching our Collaborative Bibliography, and you can help!

Liber Amicorum

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Alciato’s lost manuscript of Emblematum Liber, emblem scholars create their own emblems…

Become a member, receive our Bulletin and participate in our International Conferences!