Investigating the Image of the Book: BASIRA launches at the 2023 Schoenberg Symposium

November marked the launch of a compelling new digital resource hosted by the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies and the Penn Libraries. BASIRA, the Books as Symbols in Renaissance Art project (, is a new, open-access online database of representations of books and other textual documents in the figurative arts between approximately 1300 and 1600 CE. With the launch of the new database portal, users … Continue reading Investigating the Image of the Book: BASIRA launches at the 2023 Schoenberg Symposium

Save the Date: BASIRA launches at the 2023 Schoenberg Symposium, November 16–18 2023

We’re delighted to announce that the BASIRA public search interface will officially launch at this year’s Schoenberg Symposium for Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age, which will be held November 16–18 2023 at the University of Pennsylvania and the Free Library of Philadelphia. Now in its sixteenth year, the Schoenberg Symposium is an open, free-to-the-public event that gathers scholars, students, and interested members of the … Continue reading Save the Date: BASIRA launches at the 2023 Schoenberg Symposium, November 16–18 2023

Appreciating Connections

As the BASIRA team continues adding works of art to the database, it’s often essential that we closely examine tiny details of the images. When an artist portrays even a fragment of text legibly, we can find rewarding connections. A recent entry led us to other digital humanities endeavors in almost startling ways. Thanks to extensive work by scholars from the University of Waterloo and … Continue reading Appreciating Connections

Coming attractions! a preview of our new CM system

The BASIRA Project team has been working on the re-designed Content Management system for the past two years. Along with our collaborator, Performant Software, we’re very happy to be able to post these samples from our new interface — a web-based resource that supports access with any web browser. Configuration lists for artists, repositories, and places are shared by records across the entire system. Likewise, … Continue reading Coming attractions! a preview of our new CM system

Board of Advisors

The BASIRA Project is privileged to benefit from the generosity of advisors from a variety of disciplines and career trajectories. Board meetings are held twice each year; individual Board members also advise us on specific topics as these arise. During the autumn of 2022, three members rotated off the BASIRA Board; we extend gratitude and appreciation for the contributions of Raymond Clemens, Hannah Jacobs, and … Continue reading Board of Advisors

Lightning during Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic delayed but couldn’t entirely stop our “Image of the Book” sessions! Six panelists had been scheduled to present papers in Philadelphia at the Renaissance Society of America 2020 meeting. When travel suspensions and quarantines made physical assembly impossible, we instead hosted a “work-in-progress” gathering on the Zoom platform on May 5, 2020. Each panelist gave a “lightning” version of their paper, using … Continue reading Lightning during Pandemic

Kress Digital Art History grant

In alliance with the Schoenberg Institute of Manuscript Studies (SIMS), the BASIRA Project is on its way to becoming publicly accessible resource, thanks to the generosity of the Kress Foundation. Dr. Nicholas Herman, Curator of Manuscripts at SIMS, is co-PI with B. Williams Ellertson of a recent Kress Digital Art History grant award to the University of Pennsylvania. This funding will make it possible for … Continue reading Kress Digital Art History grant

Travels and plans to move

The BASIRA team has been doing a fair bit of traveling recently, with intriguing connections and a great deal of learning along the way. In some ways, attending the 11th annual Schoenberg Symposium of Manuscript Studies (SIMS) in the fall of 2018 has been the most significant encounter. While in Philadelphia, Barbara made the acquaintance of Emma Cawlfield, program manager of the Schoenberg Database of … Continue reading Travels and plans to move

Join us! Call for papers

RSA (Renaissance Society of America), 2-4 April 2020, Philadelphia CFP: The Image of the Book: 1300–1600 How did artistic representations of the book convey meaning during the period of technological transition from manuscript to print? How can a two- or three-dimensional image of a codex or early printed edition—be it shown open, closed, thumbed, crumpled, clutched, manipulated, shrouded, overturned, splayed, stomped, balanced or burnt—convey the … Continue reading Join us! Call for papers