ACLA 2018: Encyclopedic knowledge across space, time, and culture in the late Enlightenment

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Olivia Sabee (Swarthmore College) & Hanna Roman (Univ. of Hawaii)
contact email: 

ACLA Seminar 

In this seminar we are interested in approaching the question of shifting epistemological and disciplinary boundaries in the late Enlightenment and Revolutionary periods through the lens of the interaction of intellectual networks of knowledge and geographical spaces. By focusing on the late Enlightenment proliferation of encyclopedias, works which reveal important clues about contemporary disciplinary and organizational tendencies and trends, we want to ask how information was conveyed, transformed, and interpreted over space and time. Articles from Diderot and D’Alembert's famous Encyclopédie, for instance, were borrowed, adapted, and translated in the 1780s and 1790s, traversing epistemological boundaries as well as national borders. Moving across the space and webbing of disciplines as well as geographical space changed the way in which articles were written and the way debates were represented. How did different national priorities change the way articles were written or adapted and debates were represented? What might deep knowledge of specific disciplines tell us about reasons for reorganizing knowledge in particular ways? Some possible areas of inquiry include (but are not limited to):

· cross-references and footnotes, and what they reveal about disciplinary priorities
· the transformation of individual articles from the Encyclopédie to the Encyclopédie Méthodique
· translations or adaptations of the Encyclopédie Méthodique such as the Enciclopedia Metódica and the Encyclopédie Méthodique de Padoue
· reprinted encyclopedia articles in periodicals
· relationships between various dictionaries and encyclopedias such as the Dictionnaire de Trévoux, Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, and Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie
· the Encyclopédies of Lucca, Leghorn, and Yverdon

By studying examples of ideas and areas of knowledge that changed as they transitioned between epistemologies and cultures, we want to examine shifting conceptions of knowledge at the end of the Enlightenment and the evolving identity--intellectual, national, discursive etc.--of specific disciplines. We hope to begin to scratch the surface of the question of why there were so many disciplinary changes at the end of the 18th century, and from here, to nuance and complexify the narrative of these changes and the nature of contemporary intellectual cultures.

 Deadline: Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 9 a.m. EST.