Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Encyclopaedism before the Enlightenment

13-15 June 2007
School of Classics, University of St Andrews

Contributions are invited to this interdisciplinary conference designed to consider encyclopaedic projects in their broadest possible sense.

Over recent years there has been increasing scholarly interest in pre-modern intellectual practices and the scientific texts which they generated. Particular attention has been paid to treatises, handbooks and other shorter works. There have also been a series of important studies of Pliny's Natural History and its role as a proto-encyclopaedia. This conference will build on these strands of research to explore the nature and variety of encyclopaedic projects in the age before the work of Diderot and his contemporaries created the modern vision of an encyclopaedia.

We start with no preconceived definition of an encyclopaedia. Instead, we hope that connections, and differences, will emerge from discussion of a range of texts that broadly share the visions and claims to comprehensive and or varied knowledge associated with the modern genre. To this end we are bringing together a group of scholars with wide knowledge of large-scale compilatory and synoptic works of knowledge composed in antiquity and afterwards. Our primary aim is to discuss encyclopedic and miscellanistic projects from a comparative perspective. We will examine the social and political worlds in which they were produced, including in some cases the context of empire. The conference will build on ongoing work in the Logos Centre in St Andrews on the compilatory and scientific writing of the ancient world.

Confirmed speakers will address classical, Byzantine, Islamic, Chinese, medieval and early modern encyclopedias and compilations. We welcome further contributions in any of those areas, or in others.

We invite potential contributors to send abstracts of approximately 500 words by 30 October 2006 at the latest. Papers should last no longer than 30 minutes. Contributions by established scholars and postgraduate students are equally welcome.

For more information, and for submission of abstracts, please contact Jason Koenig ( or Greg Woolf (

Confirmed speakers: Mary Beagon (Manchester), Aude Doody (UCD), Rebecca Flemming (Cambridge), Hugh Kennedy (St Andrews), Paul Magdalino (St Andrews/Koc), Teresa Morgan (Oxford), Claire Preston (Cambridge), Neil Rhodes (St Andrews), Christopher Smith (St Andrews), William West (Northwestern), Harriet Zurndorfer (Leiden)


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