Theme section: Changing orders of knowledge? Encyclopaedias in transition


To appear in the peer-reviewed journal Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research


Guest editors: Jutta Haider & Olof Sundin, Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden


We are witnessing a transition period for encyclopaedias and encyclopaedic knowledge. Since the 1990s alone encyclopaedias have gone through several remediations: from printed volumes to CD-ROM, from CD-ROM to on-line editions on the web and most recently as smartphone applications. Nowadays encyclopaedic knowledge is produced, distributed and used largely within digital networks. Mobile devices make it always available, everywhere. While understandably a lot has been said about Wikipedia and from almost every angle, other contemporary encyclopaedias have not received that much attention in research. Yet they are two sides of the same coin. This theme section wants to contribute to changing the balance somewhat.


The modern encyclopaedia, with its roots in the enlightenment, has come to symbolise learning and education. In the West it has since long been a yardstick for what is accepted as public knowledge in a given time and culture. It stands for trustworthiness and stability, at the same time as it has always changed hand in hand with cultural and technical developments. Most recently their production, consumption, use, distribution and significance, all are undergoing profound changes. At the same time as these changes contribute to re-structuring what encyclopaedias and encyclopaedic knowledge are, this type of knowledge is more easily accessible, more in demand and more often referred to than ever before.


For this theme section we invite authors to reflect upon the encounter, productive or otherwise, between encyclopaedic knowledge formed by a plethora of traditions and the constantly changing material conditions for production, communication, use and circulation of knowledge. In particular so-called traditional encyclopaedias in their contemporary digital manifestations are in focus. While emphasis on relevant sociotechnical and cultural aspects of the present is encouraged, there will be some room for historical studies that focus on encyclopaedias in transition and for studies on Wikipedia (and other new forms from social and cultural perspectives of encyclopaedias and related phenomena)


Topics of interest might be, but are not limited to:

      Everyday meaning of encyclopaedias and encyclopaedic knowledge.

      Encyclopaedias in the classroom and other educational uses.

      Economic aspects and the role of changed business-models.

      Critical studies of encyclopaedic knowledge.

      Globalisation of knowledge and the role of encyclopaedias.

      Production of encyclopaedias and encyclopaedic knowledge.

      Encyclopaedias as a yardstick for public knowledge.

      Communication of encyclopaedias and encyclopaedic knowledge.

      The situatedeness of encyclopaedias in the networked society.


We are also looking for relevant book reviews for this issue!


Please indicate your interest in contributing by submitting a title and short abstract (approximately 500 words) before 1st April 2013. The deadline for full papers is 1st of October 2013 and publication is planned for the spring of 2014. The articles should between 4,000 and 10,000 words long. Please send enquires, abstracts and finished papers to [log in to unmask] or [log in to unmask]


Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research is an academic journal for border-crossing cultural research, including cultural studies as well as other interdisciplinary and transnational currents. It serves as a forum with a wider scope than existing journals for cultural studies or other, more specific, subfields of cultural research and it is globally open to articles from all areas in this large field.


For a guide for authors please refer to: