Student Summer Scholars Manuscripts

First Advisor

Dr. David Eick


encyclopedie, plagiarism, plates, French, eighteenth century, diderot, patte


Modern Languages | Modern Literature




A literary monument of the eighteenth century, the French Encyclopédie (1751–1772) was a massive reference work written by a team of experts that aimed to depict arts and crafts in unprecedented detail. It eventually grew to contain twenty-eight large folio volumes but the journey there was filled with uncertainty due to royal suppressions from seditious and anti-religious ideas and accusations of plagiarism. Since 1951, scholars have studied one of these accusations, made by architect Pierre Patte against the plates, editor Denis Diderot, and the four publishers. This scandal, which is critical in the history of the Encyclopédie, has faded from scholarship. While exaggerated, Patte's observations are sound, but is his label of "plagiarism"correct? Differing views of copying, authorship, and property in eighteenth-century France complicate matters. The connotations of plagiarism then are different from today's and must be analyzed from the correct lens to analyze Patte's allegations.