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Stranded Encyclopedias

september 5, 2018

Encyclopedic, Dreams, and Practices, ca. 1700–2000

Date: 13 September 2018, 10.00 AM – 14 September 2018, 4.00 PM
Venue: Geo-Science Building (Geovetarhuset), Svante Arrhenius väg 8–12, Stockholm University
Welcome to an open international symposium on abandoned encyclopedias with presentations by fifteen scholars from several disciplines and countries. Free admission.

The impulse to collect and order human knowledge may be as old as writing itself. Encyclopedias – in all their shapes and sizes – are some of the strongest expressions of this desire. Yet, dreams of complete knowledge have rarely been easily achieved. Throughout centuries, people have tried and failed.

Stranded encyclopedias is the first international symposium devoted to abandoned encyclopedic works, their forgotten production histories and compilers. During two days, fifteen scholars from eight countries present cases from a three-hundred-year period. Together they give insights into the varieties, motivations, changes, and global diffusion of alphabetical encyclopedic practice, as well as the continuous development of our modern knowledge society.

If published encyclopedias are the top of an iceberg, how large is the body below the surface, and what – and who – will we find there?

The symposium is a collaboration between Stockholm University (Department of Culture and Aesthetics) and Aalborg University (Department of Culture and Global Studies), funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and the Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond).

For program and details click here.



marts 28, 2018

Nordisk Netværk for Editionsfilologers næste konference

Fredag den 8. til søndag den 10. november 2019 i København


Videnskabelig udgivelse dækker et bredt spektrum af fagområder med forskellige materialegrundlag. Trods forskelle i teori og metode har fagområderne også meget til fælles. Hensigten med denne konference er at sætte fokus på både konvergenser og divergenser mellem de forskellige traditioner. Hvordan kan perspektiver, metoder og teorier fra den ene berige den anden? Hvori ligger ligheder og forskelle i det videnskabelige udgivelsesarbejde med norrøne håndskrifter fra middelalderen og senere, tekstudgivelser på græsk af fx Platon og Det Nye Testamente og store trykte forfatterskaber fra 1800-tallet? Hvad kan vi lære af at granske såvel ligheder som forskelle? Lever traditionerne separate liv uden nærmere kontakt, eller findes der eksempler på projekter, hvor materialet kræver en kobling mellem to eller flere discipliner og en samtænkning af metodiske tilgange?

Kategorien ’forskellige traditioner’ er tænkt i bredest mulig forstand og kan således inkludere klassisk, norrøn og nysproglig filologi såvel som musikvidenskabelig udgivelse, bibelfilologi, udgivelse af historiske kilder eller andre fagområder. Perspektiver fra både digitale udgaver og papirtrykte er naturligvis velkomne. Konferencens tema lægger sig dermed tæt op ad NNE’s grundprincip: at udforske og understøtte det editionsfilologiske samarbejde på tværs af fag- og landegrænser.

Bidrag kan fx fokusere på

  • Valg af grundtekst, kritisk apparat og publiceringsformer inden for forskellige traditioner
  • Ophav, autenticitet og varians i relation til udgivelsespraktiske problemstillinger
  • Spørgsmål om målgruppe, anvendelighed og udgavens status inden for fagområdet
  • Særlige udfordringer, når udgaven skal fungere som mellemled i forbindelse med opførelser (fx dramatekster eller musikvidenskabelige nodeudgivelser)
  • Stiller et naturvidenskabeligt tekstmateriale andre krav til det filologiske arbejde og slutprodukt end et humanistisk?
  • Mass Digitization – trussel eller ny filologisk tradition?
  • Forskelle i digitale bevaringsplaner inden for traditionerne

Standardformen for konferencen er 20 min. til oplæg og 20 til spørgsmål. Oplæg kan gives på dansk, norsk, svensk eller engelsk. Arrangørerne opfordrer interesserede deltagere til at holde oplæg sammen, fx fra to forskellige traditioner. Abstracts af max 400 ord sendes til Klaus Nielsen (teoklausn@cas.au.dk) senest den 1. september 2018.

Arrangørerne gransker i samarbejde med NNE’s planlægningsgruppe de indsendte abstracts og giver besked senest den 15. oktober 2018.



Stranded encyclopedias

januar 8, 2018

Call for papers:

Stranded encyclopedias:
Encyclopedic dreams and practices, c. 1600–2000

Event:                13–14 September 2018
Category:           Symposium
Location:           Stockholm, Sweden
Organizers:       Linn Holmberg (Stockholm University) & Maria Simonsen (Aalborg University)
Language:         English
Abstract due:   1 March 2018

This call for papers goes out to scholars who study unfinished and unpublished encyclopedias, compiled c. 1600–2000.

The history of modern encyclopedias has long been dominated by serial narratives of successful, influential publications. However, if we want to refine our understanding of modern encyclopedism as practice – its varieties, development, motivations, and geographical expansion – best-selling works may not necessarily be the most useful sources. As Richard Yeo has remarked, ‘encyclopedic dreams have almost always outrun achievements’ and throughout history, many ‘large projects were left unfinished, stranded at some volume before the end of the alphabet’.[1] Now, for the first time, this international and interdisciplinary symposium places this category of works and their production histories at the center.

What kind of ‘encyclopedias’?

The symposium will focus on alphabetically-organized knowledge compendia, that is, factual dictionaries or real-lexica, with general as well as specialized scope of content. This means that we consciously exclude thematic reference-works (which may also possess encyclopedic-like properties), such as common-place books, text-books, manuals, etc. This is a strategic choice to enable more focused discussions and comparisons over time and place. Geographically, we are open to cases from the whole world.  

Why stranded’ encyclopedias?

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, stranded means ‘unable to leave somewhere because of a problem, such as not having any transport or money’. In this respect, stranded is a word that provokes an inquisitiveness about circumstances and motives. What happened here, and why? What drove the people involved? What was the purpose and function of their work?

Motives and practices

By comparing stranded encyclopedias during a four-hundred-year period – starting with the first appearances of vernacular factual dictionaries in seventeenth-century continental Europe, and ending with the transition of large-scale encyclopedias to digital media in the late twentieth century – we hope to explore a wider spectrum of reasons for why people have devoted themselves to alphabetical encyclopedism as practice. One should not assume, however, that all dictionary manuscripts were ‘stranded’ in the sense of ‘failing to be finished or published’ – at least not in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some manuscripts seem to have been compiled for personal use primarily, as part of a learning strategy. It is thus possible that such texts were not only never meant to be published, but never meant to be finished.

Geographical expansion and circulation

Moreover, by examining unrealized projects, we may get other insights into the transnational circulation or geographical expansion of alphabetical encyclopedic practice, outside prominent publishing centers on the European continent. Histories of encyclopedias that are based on a chronology of published works tend to convey the idea that encyclopedic practice or innovation ‘reached’ a region, nation, or colony at the moment when its first publications appeared. Reasonably, since practice precedes publication (possibly without resulting in publication for a long time), such assumptions are misleading. Here, studies of unfinished and unpublished encyclopedic manuscripts may rewrite such histories, while simultaneously raising questions about how we define encyclopedism as a historical practice – what it was, where, and when.

Paper proposals

We encourage scholars of all disciplines, nationalities, and at all career stages to submit paper proposals regarding unfinished/unpublished encyclopedic projects of both general and specialized character. Participants are especially encouraged to reflect upon methodological possibilities and challenges associated with their sources. Abstracts should not exceed 250 words and be sent to linn.holmberg@idehist.su.se and simonsen@cgs.aau.dk. The deadline for submission is 1 March 2018.

It is our ambition to later edit and publish the symposium papers in an anthology.

A note on economy

Participation in the symposium is free of charge and includes reception dinner, lunch, and refreshments. We may be able to contribute financially to travel and accommodation of a certain number of students/researchers with limited financial means. Please indicate in your proposal if (and why) you would benefit from such support.


Linn Holmberg, PhD

Researcher in History of Science and Ideas

Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University, Sweden




Maria Simonsen, PhD

Assistant professor in History

Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University, Denmark




[1] Richard Yeo, Encyclopedic Visions: Scientific Dictionaries and Enlightenment Culture (2011), p. 4.

Simonsens afhandling

august 8, 2017

fås nu på Museum Tusculanums Forlag. Klik her for at læse mere og bestille

Bogen og værket

maj 9, 2017


Så er Klaus Nielsens (min) bog kommet! Udgivelsesdato: 19. maj 2017. Den handler om bøger og litteratur. Nærmere bestemt handler den om begrebet det litterære værk, som inden for litteraturvidenskaben er en kompleks størrelse. Det ikke nyt for boghistorikerne. Formålet med bogen er at udfordre det litteraturvidenskabelige felt på dets manglende refleksion over dette vigtige begreb og nuancere definitionen af litteraturanalysens genstand.

Klik ind på Museum Tusculanums Forlag for at læse mere og bestille et eksemplar.

Disputation i Lund

november 13, 2016

Hjärtliga lyckönskningar till Maria Simonsen, doktorand på avdelningen för bokhistoria vid Lunds universitet, som spikade sin doktorsavhandling Den skandinaviske encyklopædi : Udgivelse og udformning af Nordisk familjebok & Salmonsens Konversationsleksikon fredagen den 11:e november. Den 9:e december, klockan 10.15 äger disputationen rum i sal C121 på LUX, Helgonavägen 3 i Lund. Alla intresserade hälsas välkomna!


NFFB #10

juli 4, 2016

Seminar fredag den 7. oktober 2016

Litteraturen og bogmarkedet


Fredag den 7. oktober 2016 holder Nordisk Forum for Boghistorie sit 10. seminar på LUX, Lunds universitet. Jubilæet markeres med en eftermiddag i litteraturens og bogmarkedets tegn. Overskriften rammer på passende vis den bredde, som forummets seminarer hidtil har udvist, og vi skal endnu en gang lytte til fire unge forskere fortælle om deres arbejde. Alle interesserede er varmt velkomne.

Tid: 13.30-17.00 den 7. oktober 2016
Sted: Avdelningen för bokhistoria, Lunds universitet, LUX, Lokale C126


· Maria Purtoft (ph.d.-stipendiat, Tromsø): Henrik Ibsens norske læsere
· Henning Hansen (ph.d.-stipendiat, Tromsø): Landsbygdsläsning
· Maria Damkjær (post.doc., København): Tidsskriftslitteratur og skjult reklame i 1800-tallets Storbritannien
· Malin Nauwerck (doktorand, Uppsala): Canongates Myth-Series