1996-97: Mapping & Remapping the Disciplines

The university still divides areas of study according to disciplines defined in relatively restrictive terms, although this conception of humanistic study has been insistently challenged. Particularly open to question is the notion that visual images and written texts serve to differentiate such disciplines as art history and literary criticism. For example, new historicism, despite its primary locus in literature departments, focuses on images as much as on texts, and cultural studies draws on visual cultures as much as on literary genres. Moreover, disciplinary divisions are unsettled in practice, whether elite or mass, vanguard or popular, as well as in everyday life.

Is thorough grounding in established disciplines necessary for rigorous work in any interdisciplinary or hybridized venture? How have disciplines taken shape historically and been related to developments in the academy and professions? What problems cut across disciplinary boundaries and how may they be most adequately articulated and investigated? Has the image acquired a privileged place in modern culture as a crossdisciplinary phenomenon, and how are images related to the role of the imaginary and to the prevalence of visual and spatial metaphors in the study of culture? What follows from the designation of historical, theoretical, and literary practices as forms of "mapping"?

In proposing "Mapping and Remapping the Disciplines" as its focal theme, the Society for the Humanities invites the applications of scholars from various disciplines who are interested in investigating this topic from different perspectives.