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Storing to Know: Konrad Gessner’s De Anima and the Relationship between Textbooks and Citation Collections in Sixteenth-Century Europe

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with the secondary literature on teaching and learning and an introduction to the idea of the loci communes collections, which focuses on De Copia by Erasmus of Rotterdam. It explains that Konrad Gessner's De Anima is a so-called printed commonplace book or collection of loci and that it is therefore part of a specific tradition with rhetorical roots. Gessner himself assigns his book the function of a repetitorium (review book) and thus alludes to the field of applied mnemotechnics, or the art of memory. The chapter also shows that the 'information overload' in encyclopaedias and abridged textbooks that followed the rules of certain kinds of commonplace books is only one side of the coin if one wants to understand Gessner's Cosmos. Unlike his unloved colleague at Paris, Petrus Ramus, Gessner combined the organisation of concepts with informed self-study and anatomical considerations.

Keywords: commonplace books; De Anima; De Copia; Erasmus of Rotterdam; Konrad Gessner; loci communes; repetitorium



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