22 abr. 2009

Discipline or Field?

Do you think of yourself primarily as engaged in a discipline or in a field?

A discipline implies a common set of methodologies and a well-defined intellectual genealogy that can be applied to any object of study, whereas a field or area describes the object of study itself.

A field can be interdiscplinary, like "Latin American Studies," to which nothing Latin American is alien. The same discipline can be applied to various fields. A literary critic can shift from British to American and still be working in the same discipline. Cultural studies is interdisciplinary and also interfieldiary.

If you apply a single methodology to various objects of study, you are not yet interdisciplinary. Or if the other disciplines are simply the sources of metaphors or jargon terms.

1 comentario:

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

I'm not sure culturual studies covers many fields in the sense you suggest. It is a field that draws on many disciplines, and sometimes more than one at a time (true interdisciplinarity). Its object of study is culture.

The reason I'm uneasy about saying that it is both interdisciplinary and interfieldiary is that I don't think there's a higher order organization of research than field or discipline. It's one of those two, and whatever it is, it is singular.

When certain combinations of disciplines stabilize they don't become "interdisciplines". They simply become new disciplines.

I think it is best not to think of yourself as fielded or disciplined, but a particular study.

Suppose you do a study of Blake and Whitman. It's not a two-field study (American and British literatures). It's just a study in the field of comp lit.