[Humanist] 24.651 an opportunity

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Jan 16 10:22:24 CET 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 651.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2011 09:18:02 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: interdisciplinary puzzle

In Myra H. Strober's recent book, Interdisciplinary Conversations: 
Challenging Habits of Thought (Stanford, 2011), the word "digital" does 
not appear in the index, nor as far as I can tell is there any mention 
of the digital humanities. It is a welcome study: Strober, an emeritus 
professor of education at Stanford, does not get caught up in seemingly 
endless consideration of what the abstract ontological category 
"interdisciplinarity" might denote, how it is to be distinguished from 
"transdisciplinarity", "multidisciplinarity" and so forth and so on ad 
nauseam. Rather she looks at what's happening by way of six seminars 
funded to enact interdisciplinary discussions among academic staff at 
six American universities. Hers is a social scientific study of these 
long conversations among academics from a wide variety of disciplines. 
To her great credit she does not thunder on about breaking down 
divisions between disciplines or eliminating them altogether. She 
focuses on what happens when academics try to communicate beyond their 
own. Mostly what we witness are the difficulties of the attempt.

I mention the absence of the digital humanities not as her failing -- 
our field, after all, has few or no dedicated academic departments in 
the U.S., including Stanford -- rather as an opportunity for us. The 
push is on nearly everywhere for academics to attempt interdisciplinary 
research. What *we* do is by its nature interdisciplinary. Wouldn't you 
think that we would be the ones to report on how it is actually done? 
Are not our collaborative projects enactments of interdisciplinary 
research, at least to some degree?


Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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