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Knowledge in wonderland: A media ecology perspective of the epistemological influence of The Wonderland of Knowledge – a children’s encyclopaedia from the early 1940s

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This article is a media ecology perspective of the epistemological influence of The Wonderland of Knowledge – a children’s encyclopaedia from the early 1940s. It has shown how the highly mechanized production and distribution processes and the highly sedimented material form of this medium mediated perceptions such as: that knowing is an objective, emotionally detached experience; that knowledge is unchanging; that it is possible to know about the world as a certain, unambiguous, decontextualized story and that there is a body of correct knowledge that could be absorbed and considered to be appropriate for everyone. This analysis has also revealed a number of contradictions between the highly sedimented material form of the medium and the more oral elements of its content. In particular, elements of the content are ‘close to the human life world’, homeostatic and aggregative rather than subordinative.
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Keywords: Wonderland of Knowledge; children's encyclopaedia; encyclopaedic knowledge; epistemological beliefs; epistemology; illustrated encyclopaedia; orality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Auckland University of Technology

Publication date: September 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • EME explores the relationships between media, technology, symbolic form, communication, consciousness, and culture. Its scope is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Media ecology provides a rich philosophical, historical and practical context for studying our increasingly technological and mediated society and culture with an emphasis on historical context.
    Media ecology scholarship emphasizes a humanistic approach to understanding media, communication, and technology, with special emphasis on the ways in which we have been and continue to be shaped and influenced by our inventions and innovation. The Media ecology approach is predicated on understanding that media, symbols, and technologies play a leading role in human affairs, and function as largely invisible environments affecting the way we think, feel, act, and organize ourselves collectively.
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