Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Communication and Information

Major Professor

J. Michael Pemberton

Committee Members

Suzie Allard, Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon, Dwight Teeter

Abstract

This historical study examines the Aristotelian foundations of the Library and Museum of Alexandria for the purpose of (1) understanding how the Library and Museum differed from preceding ancient Near Eastern information institutions (i.e., “protolibraries”) and (2) how Aristotle’s methodologies for producing scientific knowledge were carried out in Alexandria. While protolibraries served as safeguards for maintaining a static cultural/political “stream of tradition” and created, organized, and maintained “library” documents to this end, the Library of Alexandria was a tool for theoretical knowledge creation. The Library materialized Aristotelian pre-scientific theory, specifically dialectic, and served the scholarly community of the Museum in its research. Following the Library, collections of materialized endoxa, or recorded esteemed opinions, became a necessary tool for use by scholarly communities. The Library established the post-Aristotelian paradigm under which academic libraries still operate. Although the Library of Alexandria represented a fundamental shift in the meaning and purpose of collections of recorded documents, a feminist critique of the post-Aristotelian library shows that the academic library, while used in knowledge creation, is rooted in a foundationalist philosophy that validates and maintains the status quo.

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