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Diderot @ 300: An Exhibit on Making Knowledge in the 18th-century

Date: August 30, 2013 Location: Watzek Library Atrium

Watzek Library Atrium

With “Diderot @ 300” we celebrate Denis Diderot’s imprint on the greatest interdisciplinary achievement in intellectual entrepreneurship of the Enlightenment: the Encyclopedie (1751-1772). An LC student/faculty collaboration, the exhibit will be on display August 28-December 20, 2013 in the Watzek Library Atrium.

Enlightenment homme de lettres extraordinaire, Diderot (1713-1784) was featured in the January 24, 2013 New York Times article, Diderot, An American Exemplar? Bien sûr, as an “American exemplar” reminding us that “thumbing one’s nose at the establishment has been central to our own cultural and political traditions since, well, [his] time. After all, that’s how we became Americans in the first place.” At the center of the exhibit, the Encyclopédie’s schematic tree of knowledge inspired by Bacon’s own, displays the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of knowledge-making in the 18th-century. Branching out into the faculties of Memory, Reason, and Imagination, human understanding is featured as the subversive key to accessing, critiquing, and creating knowledge through the disciplines ramifying from these faculties – including philosophy, history, and literary and creative arts.

This collaborative project comes to life in the heart of Lewis & Clark’s liberal arts environment at Watzek. Our work emanates from, and replicates, the idea at the core of our liberal arts institution: Knowledge-making is a collaborative undertaking that results from interdisciplinary endeavors and cross-referencing, and a creative process that bears on the sciences as well as on the humanities. Reflecting this idea, the team draws on the expertise of the Library’s Special Collections, Associate Professor of French and Diderot scholar Isabelle C. DeMarte, as well as Schuyler Adkins (‘14, French Studies / History), Sara Balsom (‘14, French Studies / English), Hillary Kugler (‘14, Foreign Languages French/Spanish), and Brandon Stilson (‘14, Philosophy).


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