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“Papers, Please”: Knowledge at the Borders of Disciplinarity

Graduate Student Conference

Friday, April 26 & Saturday, April 27, 2013

Graduate Program in Humanities, York University, Toronto, Ontario

Our work in the Humanities brings us into contact with implicit and explicit bodies of knowledge, each of which has its own history, limitations and boundaries. We would like to consider the relationship between knowledge and the (disciplinary) context in which it is produced and to explore the limits, boundaries and possibilities of academic research—research which increasingly necessitates moving between disciplines, whether to forge connections or drive more rigorous distinctions between them. Consider, for example, the overlapping of philosophy and neuroscience (Slavoj Žižek, Thomas Metzinger, Antonio Damasio, Daniel Dennett); philosophy and neurobiology (Catherine Malibou); philosophy, mathematics, and social theory (Alain Badiou); linguistics and psychology (Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Roman Jakobson); ethnography and linguistics (Claude Lévi-Strauss); postcolonial studies (Edward Said, Arjun Appadurai, Bill Ashcroft); anthropology and history (Michel Foucault), etc. The major questions that guide this inquiry include: what does it mean to work inside and outside an academic discipline?  How do their assumptions inform and limit our subjects of research, and to what extent do research subjects themselves define the parameters according to which they are studied?

Topics and questions may include (but are not limited to):

• The cosmopolitan discipline: is the Humanities truly a cosmopolitan discipline, and if so how did it come to be that way?

• Broken telephone: what is gained or lost in the inevitable translation that takes place as ideas cross disciplinary boundaries?

• Making the humanities: what constitutes the human as an object of study, and how does it come to be known and/or shaped through (inter)disciplinary research and policies?

• Embodied knowledge, Bodies of Knowledge: the relationship between the observer and the observed; the influence of our own limitations, boundaries, and experiences on knowledge production and consumption.

• Disciplining the disciplines: what rogue knowledge crosses borders without permission, and how do we track and discuss the migrations and translations that happen in this world? What are the written or unwritten rules which regulate the production and exchange of knowledge within disciplines?

• Thinking outside the disciplinary box: how do interdisciplinary approaches differ from transdisciplinary approaches? What assumptions does interdisciplinary scholarship make about the nature of knowledge?

• Charting the discipline: how was disciplinarity constituted and shaped historically, and how does this history inform the subjects we study today?

• Visible and invisible boundaries in the age of the Internet: does the high-speed transfer of digital information necessitate new ways of thinking about disciplinarity?

• Inopportune knowledge: Freud found his explorations into sexuality met with considerable vitriol; Marx’s critique of Capitalism is considered by some as passé; An aged Galileo was forced to recant his findings. What does this mean for knowledge? What is the tension at work here and what are its implications?

• Boundaries and Creativity: A free play of ideas? Teaching and transmitting knowledge through learning activities; the “classroom” and the so-called “real world”; Exploring new configurations; knowledge of the bricoleur.

Keynote Speakers:

1)    Prof. Nalini Persram, Humanities, York University, Toronto

2)    Prof. Tilottama Rajan, Centre for Theory and Criticism, University of Western Ontario

The Conference Committee invites submissions of 250-350 word abstracts to by March 4, 2013.  Submissions in English and French are welcome.  Abstracts may be in Word or PDF format and should include, along with the abstract, a proposed title, the author’s name, affiliation, email address, and a short biographical statement (max. 50 words).  Contributors should anticipate giving a 20-min. presentation.