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Literature and Encyclopedism in Enlightenment Britain (Palgrave Macmillan 2014) tells the story of long-term aspirations, first in ancient epic and then in a wide range of literary and non-literary works from the early modern era and Enlightenment, to capture and disseminate "complete knowledge" of the world. It is also a story of the persistent failure of these aspirations, their collapse in the late eighteenth century, and the subsequent redefinition of the concept of completeness in modern literary and disciplinary terms.


The book argues that the pursuit of complete knowledge advanced the separation of epic from encyclopedia, literature from "Literature", and the sciences from the humanities; it demonstrates that the distinctions between "high" and "low", ephemeral and eternal, useful and useless that persist today all stem from the concepts of completeness that emerged during and as a result of the Enlightenment.

With humanities scholars, social scientists and natural scientists all forced to defend their work, from accusations of the "hoax" of climate change to assumptions of the ‘uselessness’ of a humanities degree, knowledge producers within and without academia are challenged to articulate why they do what they do.

In The Ends of Knowledge (Bloomsbury 2023), we offer a new perspective by arguing that it is salutary – or even desirable – for knowledge projects to confront their ends. Focusing on areas as diverse as AI; biology; Black studies; literary studies; physics; political activism; and the concept of disciplinarity itself, contributors uncover a life after disciplinarity for subjects that face immediate threats to the structure if not the substance of their contributions.


These essays – whether reflective, historical, eulogistic, or polemical – chart a vital and necessary course towards the reorganization of knowledge production as a whole.

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