Encyclopaedic Visions: Scientific Dictionaries and Enlightenment Culture

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The eighteenth-century English dictionaries of arts and sciences claimed to contain all knowledge that a person of education should possess. Richard Yeo places these scientific dictionaries in a rich cultural framework of debate that includes the classification of knowledge, the tradition of commonplaces, the Republic of Letters, the Enlightenment public sphere, copyright issues, and the specialization of science. He examines assumptions about the organization, communication, and control of knowledge in these works. Elegantly illustrated and clearly written, Encyclopaedic Visions provides a major contribution to Enlightenment studies, the history of science, and the history of ideas in general.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Beautifully, even alluringly produced." Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Overall, Encyclopaedic Visions constitutes a stimulating and well-researched study. Jeff Loveland, Eighteenth-Century Scotland

"...thoroughly researched and very well written...The book is well illustrated with images from Enlightenment encyclopedias, the index is quite extensive, and the bibliography runs to 38 pages. Encyclopaedic Visions is highly recommended for academic libraries supporting history of science departments, library and information science programs, or history departments with an emphasis on intellectual history or history of the book." E-Streams

"Richard Yeo's ambitious study of a significant segment of encyclopaedic development is a contribution to the highly political debate about the dissemination and control of knowledge....His book is both serious and fascinating. It catches exactly the mixture of intellectual excitement and commercial enterprise that in the Enlightenment fueled the search for the 'best Book in the Universe.'" Judith Hawley, The Guardian

"...sensitive and engaging study of Enlightenment encylopaedias." Nature

"Encyclopedic Visions contains thirty well-chosen illustrations and an extensive index. It is also very carefully researched in primary and secondary sources....Imsginative and informative, this book shows that British eighteenth-century encyclopedias deserve to be studied in their own right and should not continue to be eclipsed by the Encyclopedie." Journal of Modern History

"(Thomas Broman)[congratulates] the author on producing a learned and very readable book." Albion

"It is the great merit of Encyclopaedic Visions that it adds significantly to our understanding of the Enlightenment by focusing on the encyclopeadia as a cultural phenomenon. The importance of the study derives in part from its wide chronological sweep... It is the achievement of Encyclopaedic Visions to uncover the cultural roots of a tradition still distantly visible in the encyclopaedias that represent the continuing impulse to dam and contain the oceans of knowledge that surround us." Eighteenth-Century Thought

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521651912
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Pages: 358
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD YEO is Associate Professor (Reader) in the School of Humanities, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: the encyclopaedic tradition; Part I: 1. Encyclopaedias in the Republic of Letters; 2. Scientific dictionaries and 'compleat' knowledge; 3. Containing knowledge; Part II: 4. From commonplace books to encyclopaedias; 5. 'The best book in the universe': Ephraim Chambers' Cyclopaedia; 6. Communicating the arts and sciences; 7. The Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Scottish Enlightenment; Part III: 8. Copyright and public knowledge; 9. Why dedicate an encyclopaedia to a king?; 10. Editors and experts; Conclusion.

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