Encyclopedism as Style and Method
Renewed concern for method brought attention to the encyclopedia as a taxonomic device. This attention revealed the importance of the encyclopedic genre and its sub-genres (catalogues, lists, bibliotheca, Wunderkammer, etc.) to literature, art and science. The larger questions and problematic of classification and the organization of knowledge in the modern world is central to major fields of current investigation.
The aim of the seminar was to study both the evolution and history of the notion of the encyclopedia and its continuing and diverse relation to literature and art. The course began with the medieval period and range to embrace the great schemes of Kircher, Diderot and D’Alembert, Schlegel, and Novalis, up to and including the modern parodies of Borges. The seminar was a prologue to an international symposium on Encyclopedism (projected May 1990), and to an exhibition on the theme.
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