Stirling Maxwell Centre

for the Study of Text/Image Cultures

Sir William Stirling Maxwell (1818-1878), whose passions included Spanish painting and early photography, and upon whose land the Burrell Collection now stands, amassed the world’s most complete gathering of emblem books. Starting with Andrea Alciato’s Emblematum liber of 1531, these works interact text and image so as to make a point or tell a story. Sir William’s collection was bequeathed to the University of Glasgow in 1956.

Following on from the Centre for Emblem Studies, founded some fifteen years ago, the Stirling Maxwell Centre fosters an unrivalled tradition of scholarship in the field of text/image interaction, building primarily, but not uniquely, on the Stirling Maxwell Collection, which with additions now numbers over 2000 volumes, by far the world’s largest (the second being Princeton with c. 700 volumes).

But we do not just do dusty picture books. The Centre’s work draws also upon the University’s outstanding collection of early photography, the riches of the Hunterian collections, both in the Library and the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, that take us from Dürer to Picasso, and the modern emblem, namely the graphic novel, or French bande dessinée, for which our collection, in association with the Alliance Française, is potentially the strongest in a non-French speaking country.

We offer postgraduate study on all aspects of text/images cultures, with particular emphasis on the graphic novel and its historical antecedents, such as the emblem book. Glasgow University's collections are second to none and there is a lively environment of postgraduate and general scholarly activity, through seminars, publications and conferences.