Bolton, Yvonne. “On the Perception
of the Body in Diderot’s Encyclopédie.” Corporeal Practices: (Re)Figuring the Body in French Studies, edited by Julia Prest and Hannah Thompson, Peter Lang, 2000, pp. 17–32. Gale Literature Resource Center, Gale,
Bolton opens by detailing the Encyclopédie’s system of cross-references, quoting Diderot himself, claiming that they help readers remain skeptical by providing points of comparison and contrast. However, she focuses the remainder of her book section on the plates, asserting that although they are often perceived as simply supplements to the text, they play a much larger role in the encyclopedic conversation. There are unique elements of certain plates, Bolton states, that function like the cross-references in the text: they force readers to be skeptical and question preexisting beliefs. Bolton also relies on the anatomy plates to demonstrate that readers were (and are) forced to exercise their doubt and to refrain from making assumptions and interpretations of images before they read the accompanying text. She gives an example from the plate on the cranial bones which, before reading any text, resemble shells of marine animals. Only after the text is read can a reader fully understand what the image depicts. However, this anatomical understanding can be skewed, as Bolton points out, since the Encyclopedists focus mainly on the male body and its features while most female parts are distorted and barely recognizable with emphasis on the unordinary.
Country of Publication: England
Main Classification: Plates
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8/30/2020: Created page.