[Humanist] 29.735 interdisciplinary forces and outcomes?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Feb 24 07:49:39 CET 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 735.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2016 06:37:35 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: interdisciplinary forces and outcomes?

This is a brief bit of speculation with a question at the end.

My experiences as editor of a journal dedicated to interdisciplinary work
across the disciplines suggests to me that despite all the bumf promoting
claims to such work little of it actually happens -- for two reasons: it is
in fact not rewarded, and few do not have much of idea how to go about doing

But let's say for purposes of discussion that these two roadblocks are
removed and that many competent, hard-working scholars begin doing it. It
seems clear that interdisciplinary research is a very difficult row to hoe,
and that the greatest of the difficulties is competence. (See Gillian Beer
on this difficulty, https://www.dur.ac.uk/ias/news/annual_research_dinner/
.) So, if I am right, the likely outcome would be that these otherwise
competent, hard-working colleagues would need a receptive but demanding
audience able to respond to whatever was put to it. Let's assume that they
do respond so that, in the end, a reasonable level of competence in these
interdisciplinary ventures is achieved.

What is wrong with this utopian picture apart from the obvious?

My reason for posing the question here is that digital humanities is
necessarily interdisciplinary. And that leads to an additional question: if
its interdisciplinary nature isn't recognised and developed, what happens 
to it?


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, Western Sydney University

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