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Athabasca University

Presenters

Ian Angus: Interdisciplinarity and Models of Knowledge

This paper is based on a straight-forward model, and will proceed as follows: The necessity of the division of knowledge in the modern conception is the basis for the idea of a discipline. A discipline defines itself through a certain self-enclosure that defines a canon and three forms of externality: other disciplines, non-disciplinary spaces (between disciplines, as it were), and the ‘knowledges’ operative in everyday life. ‘Interdisciplinarity’ can thus be defined in three correlative ways through the relation between a discipline and each of these externalities. This model will be concretized through the discussion of the models of knowledge in sociology (a discipline, model of research), communication (a topic, model of rhetoric) and humanities (an inter-discipline, model of Socratism) and the notion of "emergent knowledges."

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Jonathan Bordo: The Relevance of Theory

In the disciplines that make up English studies, linguistics, cultural and literary theory, the need to assert the existence of theory, to defend its role, is no longer felt so strongly as it was even a decade ago: what is needed today is less a political defence of the need for theory than an assessment of its relevance. We are fully aware that we belong to the second generation of theorists, and that the glorious generation that preceded us has now gone. We would like to reflect on the generation gap: what does it mean to practice theory after Lacan, Barthes, Derrida, etc.? And we would like to reflect on the geographical and cultural gap between the Anglo-Saxon and French versions of theory. We would like to reflect on the sheer resilience of theory.

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Derek Briton: From Interdisciplinarity to Integrated Studies

Integrated studies is something quite different from interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary studies, a practice that alludes to a mode of inquiry that brings together a range of disciplines, not to draw upon them individually, not to employ them comparatively, but to combine them in such a way that they constitute a new mode of inquiry. That there is no single object, no single mode of inquiry, "out there," that corresponds to the descriptor "integrated studies" is what distinguishes it from the disciplines. Some consider this cause for concern, but there is increasing disagreement about what constitutes disciplinary modes of inquiry. This paper argues that integrated studies should neither promote a particular, pre-constituted mode of inquiry nor an amalgam or composite of pre-constituted modes of inquiry, but the constitution of new modes of inquiry through an investigation into and exploration of existing modes of inquiry.

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Suzanne de Castell: One Code to Rule Them All...

This paper begins by illustrating, in theoretical, methodological and pedagogical terms, the multitude of ways scholarly inquiry has moved beyond text as its primary mode of representation, creation and expression, and asks whether and how we can ever more fully engage with and make innovative and inventive uses of emerging digital systems, codes and tools, without relinquishing the deep and rich fields and forms of mastery thus far evolved from the cultural logics of print. Its response is to elucidate and illustrate 3 interwoven strands of interdisciplinary scholarship: the conceptual work of forging a ‘digital epistemology’, the technological challenge of developing a multimedia, multimodal research tool capable of taking the measure of the re-mediated subjects and objects of interdisciplinary study, and the pedagogical call for the resuscitation of ‘play’ as inseparable from and indispensable for teaching, learning and the advancement of knowledge.

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Len Findlay: Othering Interdisciplinarity: Towards the Indigenized, Co-operative Canadian University

In the contemporary university, innovation is too often subject to value forms that confirm institutional compliance with the assumptions and priorities of political and economic elites. The result is a diminishment and abduction of the public interest which a publicly funded postsecondary system purports to serve. In this paper I will consider two sites (within a more general marginality) for resisting and replacing such trends. The first of these sites has been developed through the collaboration of the Humanities Research Unit, the Native Law Centre, and the Centre for Aboriginal Education Research at the University of Saskatchewan under the aegis of The Indigenous Humanities. The second site is the contexts of social cohesion and the social economy at the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives at the U of S under the aegis of The Co-operative University. These two sites practice interdisciplinarity as both just interpretation and interpretation for justice.

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Raphael Foshay: The Law of Non-Contradiction, Dialectic, and the Possibility of Non-Propositional Knowledge

No summary available.

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Gary Genosko: The Role of Technology in Nonintegrative Transdisciplinarity

Félix Guattari developed a dynamic theory of transdisciplinarity that was based on a critique of transcendent or integrative studies that result from some kind of unification (whole) of disaggregatable parts. Objecting to such grounding in a conception of consensual rather than a cultivation of dissensual singularities, Guattari sought to theorize a meta-method adequate to the task of a truly trans-perspective. However, his work is not focused on the role of technology, specifically, information technologies, in this process; though he noted that computerization would be a key facet of the hypercomplex self-organization across the machinic phylum emerging in the 21st century. Thus, this paper attempts to pose the question concerning technology's role in transdisciplinary theory from an immanentist perspective by thinking through how Guattari would more fully answer, and awhat directions his answer would take.

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Harvey Graff: Literacy Studies and the Social History of Interdisciplinarity

"Literacy Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies: Reflections on History and Theory" brings together my current interests, including the social and cultural history of interdisciplinarity (a book project), and the building of a university-wide interdisciplinary program or set of integrated programs in Literacy Studies at a large and disciplinary-ordered public university (LiteracyStudies@OSU, my Ohio State University endeavors since 2004). Taken together, they embrace and interrelate conceptually and theoretically both intellectual and institutional articulations, and social and cultural criticism: the history of interdisciplinarity from the late 19th century to the present, and the delineation of an interdisciplinary field of study in literacy studies with attention to its critical, comparative, and historical foundations.

"Literacy Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies" explores the development of literacy studies in terms of the history of interdisciplinarity. It also compares that narrative to the principal explanations of interdisciplinary developments in higher education. The emphasis is critical in confronting the major traditions of discussing and understanding interdisciplinarity across time and across disciplines. The two dimensions mutually inform each other. At the same time, I argue, our general understanding of interdisciplinarity over time and across "disciplinary clusters" needs new critical, comparative, and historical approaches and understandings.

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Jan Jagodzinski: Between Lacan and Deleuze: Reading Michael Haneke's Films Otherwise

The films of Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke have become more and more globally prominent, not only a receiving praise at the Academy Awards, but praise for his particular stance to Hollywood movies and the easy consumption of their filmic narrative. This presentation explores three of Haneke's films, namely Benny's Video (1992), Funny Games (1997) and Code Unknown (2000) to identify how he is able to turn the tables of the viewer as a witness, breaking the narrative and causing an estrangement (Entfremdung) effect to take place. The question of violence, ethics and witnessing are then the three major concerns in such a self-refleXive art form. This paper will: explore the notion of Haneke's self-refleXive narratological form, revisit the ethical import of screen depictions of violence, offer an interpretation of Haneke's films as exemplars of Lacan's virtual Real, and suggest Haneke's use of the Deleuzian time-image provides a basis for ethical witnessing.

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Wendell Kisner: Interdisciplinary ensembles and dialectical integration: a proposed model of integrated interdisciplinarity

In this paper I will first develop two models for conceptually framing the integration of diverse academic disciplines within a context of interdisciplinarity. The first, which I call a "non-dialectical ensemble," will be drawn from Heideggerian philosophy and will be further modified by situating it with respect to Charles Bigger's interpretation of the Platonic eidos. The second is a dialectical model drawn from Hegelian philosophy. Whereas the first model articulates a cultural space of open creativity, the second makes explicit an immanent logic in the ways we might conceive of unity or integration, a logic lacking in the first. This latter logic suggests a normative dimension through which one might then provide a critique of certain types of unity. The two models presented in this paper are not mutually exclusive, and I will argue for thinking them together in a single model of "integrated unity" that may be both disclosive and useful for interdisciplinary projects.

The actual work of integrating different disciplines has to be carried out in a pragmatic field rather than a purely theoretical one, and so this is not a task that can be exhaustively prescribed in advance by any theory. Nonetheless, a phenomenology of cultural creativity such as that provided in Heideggerian thought may clarify the kind of space within which something like interdisciplinarity may be carried out, whereas the normative critique drawn from Hegel not only defines potential pitfalls to avoid but also articulates a logic that normatively prescribes certain types of unity or integration over others. This proposed model of integrated interdisciplinarity will be then fleshed out with respect to three examples of what such integration might look like. Through the third example in particular, which will be drawn from Gregory Schufreider's work on the artist Mondrian, the proposed model will not only be exemplified but also further developed. This further development of the proposed model of integrated interdisciplinarity through an example of it will itself provide an example of how an integrated interdisciplinarity may be both disclosive as well as useful.

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Richard Marsden: Interdisciplinarity and the Realpolitik of Academia

This paper relates the realpolitik of academia to the question of ‘inter-disciplinarity’. It does so by: (a) developing the latent connections between Foucault's ‘disciplinary power’ and Kuhn's ‘disciplinary matrix’, ‘normal science’ and ‘paradigm’, (b) locating the origins of ‘disciplines’ in medieval monasticism, specifically, in the Rule of St. Benedict, (c) describing how academic disciplines became paradigmatic of disciplinary practices in hospitals, penitentiaries, militaries, schools and asylums. Against this practical constellation of material interests, the paper spells out an alternative politics using the ontology of realism's metaphor of depth to present a very different understanding of the relationships among the disciplines.

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Joy Morny: Women's Rights and it Discontents: The Challenges of Fundamentalism, Neo-Colonialism and Postmodernism

There is considerable evidence today that women's rights as human rights are under strong attack on a number of fronts. Firstly, by a coalition of fundamentalist religions — basically on reproductive issues; secondly, by certain postcolonial critics, who are suspicious of their Eurocentric connection or, more often, their alleged globalizing, US-oriented interests. A further complicating factor is the work of contemporary feminist critical theorists, such as Wendy Brown and Judith Butler, who criticize the human rights movement insofar as it assumes certain universals or even essentialist claims on behalf of all the women of the world. But to characterize this situation only in a dualistic framework is to simplify the competing claims; the task of clarifying the actual issues at stake is a more demanding one. This paper will attempt to clarify the various interests involved in this intriguing intersection of fundamentalism(s), late capitalism and neo-colonialism.

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Roxana Ng: Toward an integrative critical pedagogy through Qi Gong

This paper is a critique of current modes of teaching that do not treat the learner as an embodied subject, and an exploration of a more holistic pedagogical endeavour that explicitly acknowledges the interconnectedness of our mind, body, emotion and spirit. Turning to Chinese medical theory and the practice of Qi Gong as alternate praxis, I outline an embodied critical pedagogy that acknowledges the participation of and integrates mind, body and spirit in knowledge construction and critical inquiry. Illustrated by students' narratives of their learning process, the paper ends with a discussion of the risks and possibilities of this form of embodied learning.

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Paul Nonnekes: A Lacanian and Pauline Encounter with the Master Signifier

There is a development from Lacan's Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis to Seminar XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis that can be viewed as paralleling a development from the Ten Commandments to St. Paul's distinctive interpretation of the Law in Romans. The parallel here is one that involves the status of the master signifier (S1) where there is a transformation of the primary work of separation enacted by the primary S1 (the name of the Father) to a secondary work of separation produced by multiple instances of S1 (names of the father but moving on to any structural operator). These multiple instances of S1 allow for the experience of enjoyment through an inscription process tied to objets a and the real of desire. The task for interdisciplinary studies is to reflect on our understanding of difference (diversity of S1s) through a Lacanian and Pauline encounter with the master signifier.

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Rick Szostak: Integrating Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities & Social Sciences

It is often argued that interdisciplinarity proceeds differently in the humanities from the social sciences. I will in this paper discuss how best to integrate across the divide between the humanities and social sciences. I will first discuss how these two domains are best distinguished. I will then review the main strengths and weaknesses of common theory types and methods in the two domains. And I will review how these differences in method/theory reflect and support differences in ‘disciplinary perspective’. The purpose of the paper is to identify potential barriers to communication between the two domains and outline strategies for their reduction.

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Julie Thompson Klein: Reconceptualizing Interdisciplinarity

This paper addresses one of our major topics – theory of interdisciplinarity. It does so by considering how boundary crossing in humanities and social sciences is remaking understanding of the subject and the object while introducing new methods and retheorizing interdisciplinarity. The paper begins by sketching broad shifts in the theory of interdisciplinarity in humanities and in social sciences. It then turns to the changing nature of the subject, the object, and methods in humanities disciplines, followed by a closer examination of literary studies. The closing section reflects on the implications for how we think about disciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, and the claim that boundary crossing have rendered humanities into "cultural studies."

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Veronica Vasterling: Practising Interdisciplinarity in Europe

This paper focuses on questions, experiences, and insights related to an ongoing interdisciplinary project: an experimental, European, team-taught interdisciplinary masters course in gender studies. An account of the specific features of European policies with respect to interdisciplinary research and education will be offered, and the assumptions and commitments of the project, in particular its assumption that interdisciplinarity requires a community of practice, will be explained. This is to provide a platform and context for the establishment of a community of practice consisting of teachers and students from diverse disciplinary, institutional and national backgrounds in Europe. Apart from the development of shared knowledge, common ground, and shared background assumptions, the purpose of forming a community of practice is to enable sustained critical reflection on practices that appear to be conducive for "doing interdisciplinarity."

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Updated July 10 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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