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Reading the WorldEncyclopedic Writing in the Scholastic Age$
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Mary Franklin-Brown

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226260686

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226260709.001.0001

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A Fissured Mirror

A Fissured Mirror

The Speculum maius as Heterotopia

Chapter:
(p.221) 5 A Fissured Mirror
Source:
Reading the World
Author(s):

Mary Franklin-Brown

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226260709.003.0006

This chapter questions the ordering principles that determine the shape of the encyclopedia. As a form of habit, we do not generally experience or think about the encyclopedia as a body with a beginning, an articulation of the parts, and an end. The process of reading an encyclopedia also entails a certain understanding of its organization—which is required in order for one to be able to navigate through these texts. This organizational structure, however, often plays the simple role of a finding device. As one reads an entry on the object of interest, the related topic cited in this first entry beckon one to return to the shelf and pick up another volume or two that contains the next set of information desired. This chapter, then, is an exploration of this mode of reading encyclopedias, tracing a path through the Speculum maius, an idiosyncratic journey guided by a chain of associations.

Keywords:   shape of the encyclopedia, reading an encyclopedia, organizational structure, finding device, speculum maius, chain of associations

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