This week we’ll study the history and current conditions of the academic discipline. Drawing on research from a wide variety of fields – including especially the tradition of ethnographic “lab studies” within STS (science + technology studies) – we’ll consider how these constructs necessitate particular spaces and tools and labor practices, call for particular methods, cultivate particular epistemologies, shape our professional communities and curricula, and ultimately give rise to particular knowledge politics and ontologies. We’ll also consider alternatives to disciplinary organization – inter-, multi-, trans, or even anti- or post-disciplinary ways of organizing our knowledge institutions – and what kinds of social, political-economic, architectural, and other changes such transformations would require.
Mid-Semester Survey + Discussion of How You’d Like to Use Our Open Weeks
Academic Object Analysis Presentations: Helen, Cheenar, Marc, Sebastian + Ramon
In-Class Activity: Un-/Re-Disciplining the University: In small groups, we’ll identify a few pressing social or environmental issues, imagine new (anti-?)disciplinary structures to address them, and map out the various institutional and cultural shifts required to effect those changes.
To Prepare for This Week:
- Read Jonathan Kramnick, “The Interdisciplinary Fantasy,” Representations 140:1 (2017): 67-83 [1 hr].
- Read Mark C. Taylor, “End the University as We Know It,” New York Times (April 26, 2009) – and David Bell’s rebuttal to the book, Crisis on Campus, that followed from Taylor’s op-ed: David Bell, “Does This Man Deserve Tenure?” The New Republic (September 6, 2010) [30 min].
- Watch Achille Mbembe, “Future Knowledges and the Dilemmas of Decolonization,” Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University (2017) [video: stop at 41:30 if you’re pressed for time!]. Let’s also acknowledge that many of the epistemological developments that Mbembe describes as novel have long been known within non-Western, indigeous, and Black feminist communities.
- Read the amazing artist/philosopher Adrian Piper’s “On Wearing Three Hats,” a talk she shared at Brandeis University in 1996 [30 min].
- I also have to give a shout out to this fabulous “Interdisciplinarity and Antidisciplinary” class at Princeton. They turned me on to the Piper essay 🙂
- Michael G. Ash, “Interdisciplinarity in Historical Perspective,” Perspectives on Science 27:4 (2019): 619-42
- Lorraine Daston, “The Academies and the Unity of Knowledge: The Disciplining of the Disciplines,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Sutdies 10:2 (1998).
- +Lorraine Daston, ed., Things That Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science (Zone Books, 2008).
- Immanuel Kant, The Conflict of the Faculties (1798).
- +Jerry A. Jacobs, In Defense of Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity and Specialization in the Research University (University of Chicago Press, 2013).
- Julie Thompson Klein, “A Taxonomy of Interdisciplinarity” in Robert Frodeman, Julie Thompson Klein, J. Britt Holbrook, and Carl Mitcham, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity (Oxford University Press, 2010): 15-30.
- +John Marx and Mark Garrett Cooper, “Curricular Innovation and the Degree-Program Explosion,” MLA Profession (Winter 2020).
- Lucas Monteil and Alice Romerio, “From Disciplines to ‘Studies’: Knowledge, Trajectories, Policies,” Revue D’Anthropologie des Connaissances 11:3 (2017).
- Marko Monteiro, “Ethnography and Interdisciplinary Work: Experiences from the US and Brazil,” Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society 1:1 (2018).
- Urszula Pawlicka-Deger, “The Laboratory Turn: Exploring Discourses, Landscapes, and Models of Humanities Labs,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 14:3 (2020).
- Martyn Pickersgill and Sheila Jasanoff, “ST(&S): Martyn Pickersgill Talks with Sheila Jasanoff,” Engaging Science, Technology and Society 4 (2018): 320-34.
- Allen F. Repko, Rick Szostak, and Michelle Phillips Buchberger, “The Rise of the Modern Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity” in Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies (SAGE, 2013).
- Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, On Historicizing Epistemology: An Essay , trans. David Fernbach (Stanford University Press, 2010).
- Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Toward a History of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube (Stanford University Press, 1997).
- +Pascal Schllings and Alexander van Wickeren, “Towards a Material and Spatial History of Knowledge Production: An Introduction,” Historial Social Research 40 (2015): 203-18.
- Mark C. Taylor, Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities (Knopf, 2010) + this video.
- Chad Wellmon, Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).
- Things to consider: library classification + unorthodox organizational schemes; how architecture and campus planning reinforce or upend disciplinarity
- Lab Studies
- *Joyce C. Havstad, “Forty Years After Laboratory Life,” Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 12:3 (2020).
- *Rebecca Howes-Mischel and Megan Tracy, “Being a Lab, Studying a Lab: Practicing Good Relations in Building Qualitative Research Infrastructures,” Society for Social Studies of Science CFP (2021).
- *Karin Knorr-Cetina, Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge (Harvard University Press, 1999) [thank you to Matthew Wolf-Meyer!]
- Evangelos Kotsioris, Curator, Lab Cult, Canadian Centre for Architecture (2018); see also Magdalena Milosz, “Lab Cult: An Interview with Evangelos Kotsioris,” Site Magazine (n.d.).
- *+Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts (Princeton University Press, 1987).
- *Sharon Traweek, Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists (Harvard University Press, 1992) [thanks to Chanda Prescod-Weinstein]
- *Noémi Tousignant, Edges of Exposure: Toxicology and the Problem of Capacity in Postcolonial Senegal (Duke University Press, 2018) [thanks to Dean Chahim!]
- *Alberto Corsín Jiménez, An Anthropological Trompe-l’oeil for a Common World: An Essay on the Economy of Knowledge (Berghahn, 2013).
- *Sophia Roosth, Synthetic: How Life Got Made (University of Chicago Press, 2017).
- *Pankaj Sekhasaria, Instrumental Lives: An Intimate Biography of an Indian Laboratory (Routledge, 2018).
- *Janet Vertesi, Seeing Like a Rover: How Robots, Teams, and Images Craft Knowledge of Mars (University of Chicago Press, 2015).
- *Darren Wershler, Lori Emerson, and Jussi Parikka, The Lab Book: Situated Practices in Media Studies (University of Minnesota Press, 2022) [full book forthcoming].
- *Zoe Wool’s Research Kitchen: see FAQs [thanks to Winifred Tate!]