Digital Renaissance Editions

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Our Name and Heraldic Device

What’s in a name?

The term digital refers to signals, information, or data represented by a series of discrete values (typically the numbers 0 and 1) for electronic storage or processing. Technologies and media involving digital signals, information, or data, such as the Internet, are also said to be “digital”. The term Renaissance refers to the revival of classical models of art, literature, architecture, and high culture that began in Italy in the fourteenth century and spread throughout most of Europe by the end of the sixteenth century. The term, which literally means “rebirth”, also refers to the cultural forces of discovery (innovation) and renewal (classicism) associated with age.

The name Digital Renaissance Editions therefore refers both to the project’s publication of early English plays (primarily those from the Renaissance period) in digital form, and to the project’s aim of initiating renewed interest in the plays themselves, which are given a new birth – and a new audience – in digital form.

DRE Logo

The heraldic device

Heraldic devices were popular in medieval and Renaissance Europe. In keeping with the aims of the project to encourage renewed appreciation of early English culture, the logo of the Digital Renaissance Editions incorporates a heraldic device. The capital letter “D” serves as an escutcheon or shield, charged with a demi-lion rampant facing to contourné, gorged with a coronet and holding an ostrich feather quill pen.

The “king of beasts”, the lion as a charge symbolizes royalty, valour, and strength. Since only part of a lion is depicted, it is given the prefix “demi”. The demi-lion is rampant or depicted standing in profile with forepaws raised to symbolize readiness for battle. The demi-lion faces the viewer’s right side or contourné. The coronet is a simple ornamental crown worn by members of the nobility as a sign of their dignity, power, victory, honour, and glory. Unlike those worn on the head, crowns or coronets gorged or collared around the neck cannot be removed and symbolize the inalienable powers and honours of their wearer.

Although feathers were typically stripped in order to make quill pens, often they were not and examples of both kinds may be found depicted in medieval and early modern art. In England, quill pens were usually made from the feathers of more common birds such as geese, swans, and crows. Plumes of exotic birds, such as the ostrich, were rare and expensive, and thus signs of dignity and wealth. An ostrich feather quill pen, therefore, is a princely pen and symbolizes the importance of the writer and what is written. In heraldry, pens symbolize the liberal arts, education, learning, and creativity.