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Working Group: A Meta-Reflection on Interdisciplinarity in the Arts and Humanities at Ohio State

February 9, 2018 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm, MLK Jr. Lounge/Room #132

In addition to six hosted lectures on topics including water, global warming, medical humanities, asylums, and animals, we are organizing two working groups, the first of which is
called “A Meta-Reflection on Interdisciplinarity in the Arts and Humanities” that will be dedicated to the state-of-the-art of interdisciplinarity and cross-disciplinarity in the Arts and
Humanities at OSU.
The heuristic value of interdisciplinarity has evolved during the past decades: interdisciplinary work is a quasi-professional imperative in order to obtain academic positions and grants. In
the working group, six scholars from the Arts & Humanities at OSU who have developed a compelling interdisciplinary research agenda will give short, accessible presentations (5-6
minutes maximum) about the theory and practice of interdisciplinarity and address their personal experience with interdisciplinary work in the arts and humanities. In particular,
participants are invited to reflect upon the following questions:
  • How does one become an expert and an innovator in fields where traditional disciplinary boundaries are merging (such as global, medical, digital, and environmental humanities, disability studies, animal studies, and ecocritical studies)? Is it advisable to become a specialist of one field before opening his/her research to interdisciplinarity? Or should we think about training students at the graduate level to be researchers in two or more fields?
  • What might be (if at all) the necessary grounding in one discipline before undertaking the exploration and bridging of new fields?
  • Does interdisciplinarity create a new set of intellectual problems or does it provide a reinvigoration of previously conceptualized issues?
  • What are the institutional obstacles to developing an interdisciplinary scholarly agenda and an interdisciplinary teaching program?
  • What are, on the contrary, the institutional incentives to develop an interdisciplinary scholarly agenda, an interdisciplinary teaching program?
  • To what extent is the future development and success of Arts & Humanities programs at an institution such as OSU connected to the creation of interdisciplinary programs?
Workshop Participants
Frederick Aldama, English and Spanish and Portuguese. Areas of specialization: Latinx cultural production; narrative theory; ethics; aesthetics; cognitive science.
Andrew Carrington Shelton, History of Art. Areas of specialization: art history, gender and sexuality studies, including queer theory and the history of medicine; fashion history; media studies; history (political, social and economic); theories of reception.
Lesley Ferris, Theater. Areas of specialization: feminism; gender; human rights; cultural studies; historiography; performance/theatre.
Richard Fletcher, Classics. Areas of specialization: the dynamic between ancient Greek and Roman literature, philosophy & mythology and Contemporary Art, focusing on how the Classical informs collaborations with artists, curating exhibitions and experimental teaching projects.  
Dorothy Noyes, Comparative Studies and English. Areas of specialization: Individual research: folklore studies; cultural and linguistic anthropology; cultural history; literary studies. Collaborations in international relations; international law; policy economics.
Shannon Winnubst, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Areas of specialization: Continental philosophy; psychoanalytic cultural theory; queer theory; cultural studies.
Michael Mercil, Art. Areas of specialization: AgriCulture without borders or, performing the land-grant university.
Presentation order and titles
  1. Frederick Aldama, "Looking Back to the Future of Education: LASER, Humanities and Cognitive Sciences High School Summer Institute, and Aristotle's Lyceum"
  2. Dorothy Noyes, "Front- and Backstage in Interdisciplinary Interactions"
  3. Michael Mercil, "The near, the low, the common; or performing the land-grant university"
  4. Andrew Carrington Shelton, "Towards a History of the Consumption of Popular Imagery in Romantic-Era Paris: Imaging Audiences for the Lithographic Works of Achille Devéria"
  5. Shannon Winnubst, "Queering Philosophy: An Impossible Project?"
  6. Lesley Ferris, "Voices of Afghan Women: The Challenges and Strategies of Practice-Based Research"
  7. Richard Fletcher, "Our Dissonant Stream: A Minus Plato Mix-tape"
Audience members will then reflect upon points raised in the presentations, and pose queries to speakers and discuss more broadly the following: What at our institution is working? How
are departments and programs making meaningful connections outside of traditional boundaries? What resources exist to help programs think more globally? What are the
challenges of going forward? What structures might best help our students succeed at the graduate and undergraduate levels?
Refreshments will be served