Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Encyclopaedism before the Enlightenment

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

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. Papers will address classical, Byzantine, Islamic, Chinese and early modern encyclopedias and compilations. 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.

The conference will include approximately twenty papers, running from early afternoon on Wednesday 13 June to the afternoon of Friday 15th. Conference programme and list of titles to follow soon. The conference website, including full programme, will be available from the middle of next week-link from

The conference is generously funded by the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Classical Association and the Hellenic Society.

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

The cost for delegates booking before 15 May is £200, including conference fee, two nights' accommodation, and all meals up to the afternoon of Friday 15th. Prices may rise very slightly after that date, depending on availability of rooms. Additional nights will be available for £40 per night. Prices for shorter stays are available on request. We will organise dinner in a local restaurant on the Friday night for those who are able to stay.

We have a small amount of funding available to help with travel costs for postgraduate delegates: if you would like to be considered for this funding, please contact Jason Koenig ( by 30 April at the latest.

To register, please contact the conference secretary, Mrs Margaret Goudie ( with details of accommodation requirements.

For more general queries please contact one of the conference organisers: Jason Koenig ( or Greg Woolf (


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