Interdisciplinarity As a Web

Throughout this class, I have been reading Moran’s Interdisciplinarity somewhat religiously. Religiously, but, to be brutally honest, resentfully. I didn’t connect to what he was saying and thought he was making things too complicated in his discussion. I thought that he was taking decently simple ideas and turning them into ungraspable theories, or relying too heavily on historical context that I was immediately bored by. Then, I read the conclusion.  Continue reading “Interdisciplinarity As a Web”

How to be an Individual: Zulus edition

While reading Moran’s Interdisciplinarity, I came across a sentence that made me immediately think of Zulus. On page 45, he states that “…the definition of ‘culture’ has been linked to questions about the cultural construction of identity and meaning , particularly in relation to the broader operations of power in society.” Now, this quote comes from the second chapter of his book and the chapter goes on to discuss and analyze the connection between literature in culture. I am not blind to the fact that there are many other noteworthy ideas in this chapter that I’m sure could also be connected back to the topic of our conversations lately, but this particular sentence was the only one that made my mind immediately jump to Zulus and for that I believe it to be post-worthy.  Continue reading “How to be an Individual: Zulus edition”

History as it pertains to literature

Chapter 4 of Moran’s Interdisciplinarity discusses the relationship between history and literature. Upon reading this, I could not think of anything but Meridian. History has been a central theme through all of our class discussions and individual readings from start to finish in this book. Everything from the setting to the dialogue between characters is rooted in historical context, and I felt that Meridian served as a prime example of the relationship that Moran explores in this chapter of his book.   Continue reading “History as it pertains to literature”

Theory as a means of ultimate worth

As an English double major, the most common question I am asked at family gatherings, advisor meetings with my Business Administration advisor, or even nosy friends of my parents is “What are you going to do with that?” The uncomfortable part about it, I never really know what my answer is.  Continue reading “Theory as a means of ultimate worth”

The making of the anti-math kid

In chapter five of Moran’s Interdisciplinarity, he references a lecture given by C.P Snow entitled “The Two Culture and the Scientific Revolution.” He discusses how Snow argues that “the British education system exacerbated the situation by forcing pupils to specialize too early” (135). The situation that he is referring to is the divide between the sciences and the humanities.

Continue reading “The making of the anti-math kid”

An Interdisciplinary Summer

Throughout this past week, many of my professors started the first day of class with the same question, “What did you do over the summer?” In years past, I have always had a very mundane response: I worked or maybe took a family vacation, nothing out of the ordinary. However, this summer I did something very out of my comfort zone and attended Field School for Archaeology through Geneseo’s Study Abroad program. For one month I lived in a tent and excavated land that was occupied by the Hopewell Indians between 1600 and 2100 years ago. Not shockingly, the next statement was always, “Oh, so you’re an anthropology major.”

You can imagine the confusion that overcame my professors when I explained that no, I am in fact not an anthropology major, but a double major in Business Administration and English. Everyone assumes that because I participated in a summer program that is in a specific discipline (anthropology), that I must want to be an anthropologist. People can not grasp the concept that I am interested in something that has absolutely nothing to do with my majors or future career paths. When I try to explain that I simply really enjoy the study of archaeology and wanted to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity, they get uncomfortable and smile and move on.

While reading Interdisciplinarity by Joe Moran, I was struck with the feeling that he was trying to describe how I feel every time someone questions why I would waste my time attending Field School when it is so outside of the disciplines I am studying.  I agree with the critique of the academic disciplines that he references frequently, that they are limited and confining. I like the idea of interdisciplinarity, or at least how I understand it, that there should be more of a flow between the academic disciplines, creating an engagement between them. In my mind, the idea of interdisciplinary is like that of a liberal arts college, it allows a student to get a taste of every academic discipline to become a well rounded and cultured member of society.

My interdisciplinary adventure this summer allowed me to experience academics in a new way. Instead of studying from my Business Law textbook or analyzing the syntax in a poem I was plowing through dirt looking for variations in the plow zone and recording it in a archaeological journal. I learned just as much as I would have in a traditional semester class, if not more because I learned about myself by experiencing a world I was in no way a part of before. I learned leadership skills, since everyday a new member of the group was assigned to be in charge, skills that will help me in the world of business. I also took part in  creative writing during my time there; we were expected to journal about our experiences throughout the trip, allowing me to work on my writing skills without being an English class. Learning these skills that are theoretically specific to distinct academic disciplines in a field that has nothing to do with them proves that the idea of interdisciplinarity is a valid one. This allows me to fully appreciate the idea of interdisciplinarity and the importance of it for all students.