Bureaucracy : Doing/Making

Doing/Making

Even as the material forms of bureaucracy order and fix knowledge, they also convey processes and procedures of knowledge making. Many bureaucratic documents implicitly script a series of actions: filling out, turning in, processing, filing and so on. Reference books, however, explicitly codify how particular kinds of knowledge can and should be made. By detailing how to construct a theater set, how to print a broadside, or how mount a specimen for a museum display, the reference books included here deploy the technical knowledge of the professional to support modern disciplinary divisions.    

This section of the monumental French Encyclopédie (1751-1780) depicts architectural plans and examples of theatrical machines from the eighteenth century. Each section of the large folio volume begins with detailed descriptions of the plates followed by a set of engravings. The combination of text and illustration reveal the many ways theatres were constructed to enable the creation of specific sets, also pictured in the plates. Chosen because of its historical significance, this set of theater plates reflects the interest Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert (1717-1783), the editors of the Encyclopédie, took in describing, systematizing, and disseminating knowledge of the mechanical arts. 

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This late nineteenth century handbook for amateur collectors describes the process of decoying, trapping, skinning, preserving, and mounting animal and bird specimens for inclusion in a natural history museum. The author, Montague Browne, was the curator of the town museum in Leicester, a city in the industrial Midlands in Britain; he was also a member of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the Zoological Society, and the author of The Vertebrate Animals of Leicestershire and Rutland (1889). 

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This late nineteenth-century encyclopedia claims to cover all aspects of publishing and printing. As the editor suggests in the preface, “as an Encyclopædia, it aims to traverse the circle of the art to which it relates, and therefore to describe its history, as well as its implements, its processes, and its products” (vii). As part of the Nineteenth-Century Book Arts and Printing History Series, this volume sold itself as a comprehensive resource for use in printing offices, and it thus gave special attention to current implements and processes of printing in the United States (vii). 

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