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Fields Without Fences: A Dialogue on Interdisciplinarity
Atlanta, March 1999

The title of the 1999 Institute of the Liberal Arts Graduate Student Conference, 'Fields Without Fences: A Dialogue on Interdisciplinarity,' suggests a figure for charting historical approaches to and contemporary possibilities for 'interdisciplinary' work. We invite graduate students to submit papers that examine and illustrate the changing division of intellectual labor in the contemporary academy. We seek papers that deal both with the theory, methods and practices of interdisciplinary studies as well as examples of such work that address aspects of the following questions: - How do we identify a discipline? What methods are appropriate/useful/ generative in crossing disciplinary bounds? Has interdisciplinary studies become a discipline in itself? - What are the pedagogical issues specific to interdisciplinary programs? How do field studies explicitly or implicitly negotiate interdisciplinarity? How can 'discipline' be maintained within an explicitly 'interdisciplinary' pedagogy? - How can interdisciplinary studies intersect with studies of globalization? What is the potential for such work? How does interdisciplinarity address topics of 'scale' in identifying problems for research in general? - What is the status of C.P. Snow's 'two cultures' problem? How are the sciences and the humanities getting along? Can we speak even of 'meta-disciplines' on the order of 'science' and the 'humanities' that bear re-examination in light of these fields' internal mappings of interdisciplinary study? - Do interdisciplinary studies raise political issues? How do we address recent criticism of such fields as Women's studies, African American studies, Ethnic studies, Queer studies, and Area studies? Do such programs address topics that are otherwise lost in a 'traditional' academic framework? - What possibilities does an interdisciplinary approach offer for reaching beyond the confines of the academy? Does the project of 'public scholarship' entail some form of interdisciplinarity? How do traditional academic disciplinary bounds need to be redrawn/traversed when intersecting with 'disciplines' outside an academic framework? As this (non-exhaustive) list of topics should indicate, we are interested in as universal an approach to this topic as possible. We are particularly interested in encouraging dialogue across humanities, sciences and professional disciplines. To this end, we encourage proposals dealing with ALL forms of interdisciplinarity, from medical teams to biochemical research to American studies to marketing psychology, etc. Further, we encourage propposals that explore alternatives to the 'traditional' conference presentation, in the form of multi-media work, film, artwork or performance. Proposals for presentations should include 1. a 250-word abstract of the presentation, 2. indication of any need for audio/visual or other technical equipment, 3. contact information, including ground address, phone, e-mail, and affiliation (academic or otherwise), 4. BRIEF biographical outline. The conference will be held at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. from Friday, March 19 through Sunday, March 21, 1999. Proposals should be submitted no later than January 15, 1999. Early submissions are encouraged. The Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts is currently looking into lodging for those visiting for the conference. Some further information concerning possibilities for lodging in the area of the University campus will be provided following the selection of proposals. Proposals should be submitted to: Francis Desiderio Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts Callaway Center South Emory University Atlanta, GA 30322 USA For further information: contact Francis Desiderio at the above address or by email at