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The Book

This is a list of the titles of articles in the publication cited below.
Translation made by Sabine Michel

The research results of an earlier project conducted at the University of Zürich have been published in a book. This page introduces the titles of the articles contained therein and provides more information about the publication in question.

The title of the publication is as follows: Paul Michel / Madeleine Herren / Martin Rüesch (eds.), Allgemeinwissen und Gesellschaft, Akten des internationalen Kongresses über Wissenstransfer und enzyklopädische Ordnungssysteme, vom 18. bis 21. September 2003 in Prangins [=> General Knowledge and Society, Proceedings of the International Conference on Knowledge Transfer and Organising Systems of Encyclopaedias, September 18 to 21, 2003, Prangins.] - . (ISBN: 978-3-8322-6355-3). 2007, Shaker Verlag.

Allgemeinwissen und Gesellschaft
Allgemeinwissen und Gesellschaft

Publication of the Conference (summary)

"General knowledge" is a social construction. All its aspects, ranging from the need for it, to its content and its forms of organisation, are invented. But who are the protagonists in the process of transferring knowledge, education and information and what is their role in society? This volume discusses the issue "general knowledge" using the example of an apparently stable and supposedly consistent form of knowledge: encyclopaedias. Questions such as how these media of cultural transfer have changed over time, how they deal with the dilemma of reproducing stable and at the same time current knowledge are discussed on the basis of a wide range of examples, including non-European and pre-modern texts. Encyclopaedias contribute to the popularisation of values and ideas in everyday life, and research on encyclopaedias can reveal notions about social and political order. The articles are designed to be interdisciplinary and comparative on a global scale. They examine publishing dynasties, enquire about the influence of civil societies and deal with the role of political rulers in efforts to "educate" societies. The interests of nation states in the production of encyclopaedias in India and Australia are debated along with ideas dating back to the ancient world on how knowledge should be organised. Furthermore, the book discusses mechanisms of censorship in 18th century France, and ways of collecting and organising knowledge in democratic and totalitarian systems of modern times, as well as the question by which deontological principles the search for knowledge is regulated.  

This is an overview of all the articles published in the book:


Preliminary Reflections Concerning a Theory of All Things Encyclopaedic — Encyclopaedias as Indicators of Change in the Organisation and Social Significance of Knowledge. [Article is written in German.] 

Madeleine Herren, Paul Michel, Martin Rüesch

A Mind Map of a Nation: the Australian Encyclopaedia or Why Sharks Are More Important than Tigers.  

Nadine Hagen

Pierre Bayle: Several Lives but just one Death. Structures, Arrangements and Rhetorics in Lexicography. 

Martin Rüesch

General Knowledge and Civil society. An Accurate and Popular View of the Present Improved State of Human Knowledge.  

Madeleine Herren

Synthesis of the Heterogeneous, and Closed Conceptions of Knowledge Stores. Conrad Gesner, Christoph Mylaeus and the Beginnings of the Early Modern Universal Bibliography and Encyclopaedia of the Early Modern Period. [Article is written in German.] 

Martin Schierbaum

Branches, Braces, Decimals. Potential and Limitations of the Taxonomic System of Organisation, from Plato to Theodor Zwinger and Melvil Dewey. [Article is written in German.] 

Paul Michel

Uses of General Knowledge. Lala Nagendra Kumar Ray’s Oriya Encyclopedia, Bibidha Ratna Sangraha.  

Jatindra Kumar Nayak

The Tree, the Labyrinth and the Theatre. The Aporias of Didérot (with regard to his contributions to the Encyclopédie). [Article is written in French.]

Claudia Albert

On the Theory of Alphabetically Organised Text. [Article is written in German.] Andreas KilcherDewey Meets Kruenitz. A Classificatory Approach to Lexicographic Material.Hans-Ulrich Seifert Europe and the Rest of the World. On Geographical Knowledge in Zedlers Universal-Lexicon. [Article is written in German.] 

Ulrich Johannes Schneider

Encyclopaedia or "Mirror for Princes"? Arabic and German Versions of the Pseudo-Aristotelian Secretum Secretorum. [Article is written in German.]Regula Forster Per modum quaestionis compilatum. The Collections of Natural Questions and Their Development from the 13th to the 16th Century.  

Iolanda Ventura

Une histoire d'emotions. The Temporality of Knowledge-Categories in Andreas Hondorff's Promptuarium Exemplorum. [Article is written in German.]Ursula Kundert  "... resembling the fairest spring". Conceptions of Childhood in 18th Century Encyclopaedias. [Article is written in German.]

Lucia Amberg 

An Encyclopaedia Consisting of Objects. Johann Jakob Scheuchzer's Inventory of the Zurich Cabinet of Curiosity and the Physica Sacra. [Article is written in German.]Claudia Rütsche  The Encyclopaedia Judaica. Negotiating the Prerogative of Interpretation and Collective Affiliation in Jewish Encyclopaedias of the Inter-War Years. [Article is written in German.] 

Arndt Engelhardt

Schlag nach über Polen. War, Business and Encyclopaedic Idea during World War II in Germany. [Article is written in German.]Ines Prodöhl History at a Glance. Traditions and Discontinuities from the 18th Century to the Present. [Article is written in German.]

François de Capitani 

Encyclopaedias in the Chinese Cultural Sphere. The Leishu: Gigantism and Pretension to Power Manifested in Material Terms in the Chinese Tradition. [Article is written in German.]

Marc Winter 

The 'Loci Method' as an Organising System for Encyclopaedias. [Article is written in German.]Urs Leu Never "Without Guarantee". On the Sources of National Perceptions of the Self and Others in European Encyclopaedias and Universallexika. [Article is written in German.]

Ina Ulrike Paul

Schools and the Internet – How Grammar School Students Can Find and Evaluate Information Using New Media. [Article is written in German.]

Tobias Zimmermann, Paul Michel, Viviane Kappes 


For more information please visit the Homepage of the publication in the Zurich Project