[Humanist] 23.332 claiming interdisciplinarity

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Oct 1 06:39:10 CEST 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 332.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 22:31:13 -0600
        From: Stan Ruecker <sruecker at ualberta.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.329 claiming interdisciplinarity
        In-Reply-To: <20090930050121.5155D357ED at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard,

If you had asked me what I thought about interdisciplinarity at any 
point up until a week ago, I would have had a simple answer: a project 
is interdisciplinary if it requires researchers from more than one 
discipline. It would therefore not be possible to claim your work is 
interdisciplinary if you aren't working with other people who aren't in 
your discipline. It would not be possible, for instance, to say your 
project is interdisciplinary if you work alone.

So in my mind, "interdisciplinary" and "multidisciplinary" were 
basically synonyms, and my assumption was that one person could not 
simultaneously sit in two chairs at the research project table.

However, I've recently begun thinking about research areas where a 
discipline simply hasn't been established yet. Nanotechnology might be 
an example. In this case, "interdisciplinary" is perhaps a bit more like 
"interstitial." Even if one person is doing the work, the project falls 
between the cracks of established disciplines.

For this latter kind of work, I'd like to take a page, in fact, the 
title page, from Thomas More's book Utopia, which I seem to recall is a 
pun on "no place" and "good place", and propose the related term 


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