The Meaning of Dictionaries

Meaning of Dictionaries Exhibit

Curated by Julia Gardner and Monica Mercado.

Focusing on English language dictionaries, this exhibit explores the ways dictionaries have defined meaning from the Enlightenment to the digital age, as well as what dictionaries mean within their cultural contexts. Often considered neutral, authoritative works of reference, dictionaries reflect the social and political circumstances of the time and place in which they are produced. And, while frequently associated with one person, dictionaries are the products of many hands that are frequently revised, adapted and even appropriated. Dictionaries and their makers, from Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster to Sir William Craigie and the University of Chicago's work on The Dictionary of American English, will be considered, along with themes such as nationalism, standardization of language, and dictionary-making and use in a digital environment. The exhibit will feature historical dictionaries from the Special Collections Research Center's holdings, as well as archival materials such as correspondence, page proofs, word citation cards, photographs and other items from the University of Chicago Press Records covering the making of The Dictionary of American English and Dictionary of Americanisms. Highlights include first editions of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, the infamous third edition of Webster's International Dictionary, miniature dictionaries, nineteenth-century slang dictionaries and first editions of The Dictionary of American English and Dictionary of Americanisms. The July 2007 meeting of the Dictionary Society of North America will be held at the University of Chicago campus. In addition to being of interest to professional lexicographers, the exhibit provides insights for students of language and literature, material history, history of the book, and cultural studies from the eighteenth- through twenty-first centuries.

Exhibit Publications & Documents

single folded sheet with introduction, free
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Exhibit Text

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