[Humanist] 31.493 pubs: coming to Know, interdisciplinarity and collaboration

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Dec 29 12:32:20 CET 2017

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 493.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2017 11:08:41 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: interdisciplinarity and collaboration

In the leading article of the first issue of Know: A Journal on the 
Formation of Knowledge 
(http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/know/current), Simon Goldhill 
surveys major problems requiring an interdisciplinary approach then 
observes that,

> When expertise is so hard to attain and fields are developing so
> rapidly, there are inevitably only a few people who are in
> themselves genuinely interdisciplinary in the sense of having
> mastered two or more disciplines in a creatively combinatory fashion.
> Rather, what most of the major problems I have mentioned do need is
> collaborative responses. The question of interdisciplinarity, thus,
> is most insistently a question of how to collaborate.

In describing his first major interdisciplinary project, Goldhill  
tells how collaboration itself for each of the participants meant 
becoming interdisciplinary -- coming to know the fields of the other 
participants, "celebrated books from other fields that I had not heard of". 
Indeed this happens all the time even in solitude, when collaborations in 
a sense begin unexpectedly, through writings and in conferences, 
conversations and online exchanges. But all this is grounded, 
Goldhill points out, in solid disciplinary training and returns to one's field 
of origin with the improving demand for "better disciplinarity, better 

If the conversations I overhear and the writings of which I am aware are 
indicative, we usually tend to stop with interdisciplinarity as a claim 
and collaboration a convenient social arrangement during which the 
participants learn a thing or two they didn't know before. That's the 
reason why I think the relatively new journal Know (2017--) is worth 
mentioning here, for its commitment to dilate from the practical 
concerns of forming a team to deal with problems beyond our individual 
powers and then doing our little bit. Allow me to recommend not only 
Goldhill's article but also the Editors' introduction to the first 
issue, G.E.R. Lloyd's "Where Now for the Interdisciplinary and 
Cross-Cultural Study of the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind?" and 
those that follow.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of
Digital Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western
Sydney University and North Carolina State University; Editor,
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20)

More information about the Humanist mailing list