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In other positive responses to pernicious assumptions about disciplinary identity and accountability, departments large and small are engaging in outreach to secondary schools (Belgum and Maxim; Jensen; Melin and Van Dyke). Increasingly, colleges and universities across the country report implementing programs that utilize the language, thought, and content relation. I am thinking here of the MLA sessions on courses using dual text translations or assessment of translations in their cultural context (Brown; Ross; Seyhan), on the use of various media to teach culture (Kramer; Stephens), on new interdisciplinary majors (Duvick), and on the impetus in graduate courses to provide textual dimensions to cultural studies by exploring how language reveals the construction of knowledge in societies (Yaari). (11)
Scholars who have long experience working with French intellectual history and culture and whose knowledge is enhanced by expertise in the French language could bring to a classroom discussion greater understanding of what in the writings of the above-mentioned theorists is specifically French. I have found that this aspect often gets lost in the translation of their writings to Anglophone academic contexts. Think also of the expertise that could be brought to bear by foreign literature scholars in the world literature programs and in courses on postcoloniality that are routinely delivered in English departments. However, opportunities for conversation with such scholars, which might lay the groundwork for future exchanges, collaborative teaching projects, and interdepartmental course cross-listing, have never been formally or even informally initiated. Thus any possibility for imagining new forms in which cross-departmental collaboration could take place is effectively closed off. Finding creative ways to launch such discussions-exchanges in which the benefits of exposing students to a broader range of national, international, and transnational literary cultures could also be considered-would help enormously in breaking down the barriers that so far have kept dialogue of this sort from taking place. (13)
So many in (14)
In SLA research, we have relied on coauthorship for some time now. For example, in The Modern Language Journal, which I edited for fourteen years, it is now more common to find coauthors or multiple-author teams than it is to find articles by single authors. This trend developed steadily over my editorship, in line with the growing interdisciplinary nature of research. (152) (15)
Since the early 1980s, research in foreign language acquisition and pedagogy has stressed the importance of a student-centered, communicative classroom environment in which the learner is encouraged to explore in a meaningful way the target language and the various cultural phenomena that are associated with it. In foreign language acquisition theory and practice, gone are the days when students would dutifully complete dry, contextless grammar-translation exercises that the teacher, as "authority or expert transmitter of knowledge," had prepared perhaps decades earlier (Lee and VanPatten 5). Instead, the language classroom is a space where linguistic production is conditioned by the students' "positions," which are linked to experiences that are themselves shaped by the students' intersubjective relations with other individuals and cultures. This sociocognitive view of second language acquisition is equally pronounced in reading research, which acknowledges that there are as many possible readings of a text as there are readers and that each reader engages in different types of readings insofar as he or she participates in various cultural subgroups (see, e.g., Bernhardt, Reading; Davis, "Act"). (18)
Assuming that declining enrollments in literature courses are a result of the subject's dusty reputation in our fast-paced, consumer-focused global economy, many programs have begun to reduce their offerings in literature in favor of foreign language courses for specific purposes or to drop literature entirely in favor of interdisciplinary cultural studies courses. Indeed, the identity of literature as pariah in the late twentieth century was clearly reflected in a session title at the 1998 ACTFL meeting, "Alternatives to Literature: Multidisciplinary Language Courses for Changing Student Populations." The description of the session read as follows:
This interactive session will demonstrate how to design language/culture courses for diverse student populations that connect with many academic disciplines. [. . .] The outcomes include: implementation of the [Standards's] Five Cs, retention of students through relevant topics, development of professional communication skills, and recruitment of students for traditional literature courses. (Solberg) (18)
Restlessness throughout the profession may be fueling welcome initiatives by various associations for literary studies to develop special sessions dedicated to the teaching of literature at their annual meetings. My own teaching has benefited enormously from discussions of teaching strategies and technologies sponsored by the major organizations for seventeenth-century French literature in the United States (e.g., North American Society for Seventeenth Century French Literature, Society for Interdisciplinary French Seventeenth-Century Studies, MLA Division of Seventeenth-Century French Literature). Acknowledging a special debt to my fellow dix-septièmistes, especially Deborah Steinberger for her excellent presentation on salon recreation at the 1997 meeting of the Society for Interdisciplinary French Seventeenth-Century Studies, I would like to sketch out how foreign language literature can be taught with an eye toward these notions of reader-response and sociolinguistic proficiency central to the Standards, without losing sight of the literary text as the privileged object of study. (18)
So many (19)
This is the multicultural ground floor of foreign language departments, where language study is gaining in importance and respectability and holding its own in the intellectual landscape of the humanities. But can there be a common ground among such fields that have grown so far apart as literary and cultural studies (humanities), SLA research (social sciences), and foreign language methodology (education)? Can there be a common way of talking about language, literature, and culture? The interdisciplinary field of applied language studies or applied linguistics has been proposed as offering such a common ground (Kramsch, "Foreign Languages" and "SLA"). (20)
According to a Stanford proposal for a PhD minor in applied linguistics, "applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which examines and explores language as it pertains to teaching, learning, translation, education and language policies." Applied linguists are concerned with bridging the gap between the theory and the practice of language use in all aspects of everyday life where language plays a role, including foreign language classrooms. In this respect the discipline's role is different from that of what used to be called philology, which in its narrowest conception served to bridge the textual gap between language and literature in scholarly exegesis. In foreign language departments, applied linguists not only construct SLA theories and make recommendations for pedagogical practice but also investigate the process by which students appropriate a foreign language and make it their own. How do students move from learning the textbook's grammatical and lexical rules to developing actual fluency in communicative practice? How do they transfer stylistic or literary analysis to an understanding of their textual productions? How do they apply their knowledge of a foreign culture to an understanding of their own? (20)
Academic challenges arise at the boundary between theory and practice. Theorizing about hybridity, heteroglossia, transitional surfaces, boundaries, multilingualism, and so on is considered a scholarly activity, but converting that theory to practice is not. Applied linguistics problematizes and theorizes boundaries in its research agenda, but in its practical aspect it must have students experience the boundary before they can reflect on it.
Methodological challenges arise at the boundary between disciplinary research methodologies. There are costs to interdisciplinary research in terms of rigor and the construction of legitimate objects of knowledge. To what extent can literary scholars afford to draw on various disciplinary discourses outside the humanities, like those of the social sciences? To what extent can social scientists afford to draw on discourses in the humanities? Diversifying the sources of knowledge requires the kind of multicultural academic openness displayed by the graduate students at the beginning of this paper. (20)
From without, language departments are under pressure by college administrators and curriculum committees to share their "human resources" (typically their junior faculty members) with a plethora of inter- and cross- disciplinary programs, including first-year seminars, writing-intensive seminars, humanities core courses, women's or gender studies, comparative literature programs, international studies, and so on. Since colleagues either embrace these interdisciplinary opportunities (they'd rather teach a seminar in literary studies than Russian 101) or avoid them like the plague (perfectly happy to teach six different courses on eighteenth-century French drama), the task of navigating between these conflicting curricular expectations amounts to an invitation to go clam digging in a minefield. Add that some of these programs gobble up not only faculty resources but also majors, and it is easy to see why colleagues are not climbing over one another to be chairs of foreign language departments. (21)
Many of these changes may be easier to make at Middlebury, with its relatively seamless integration of foreign language study into the overall curriculum, with its support for and interest in interdisciplinary projects of which foreign language faculty members are an integral part. But I am convinced that even in places with more rigid disciplinary boundaries than we have at Middlebury, demonstrated interest in sharing in an interdisciplinary project on global or intercultural studies will be welcomed by colleagues in other fields.
Before we can worry about language requirements and ways to attract and keep students, we must establish a presence in the curriculum. The current phase of interdisciplinary initiatives and curricular innovation is a golden opportunity to reclaim some lost ground by demonstrating to our colleagues and students that foreign language departments, with their local knowledge and cultural expertise, can provide the intelligence on the ground that will prevent us from making costly cross-cultural blunders. The master narrative on foreign cultures is written by foreign language departments, and it is not written in English. By reclaiming the cultural expertise we have ceded to other areas of the curriculum, foreign language departments across the country can help prevent a global freeze and other gloomy forecasts. (21)
So where do we go once we have abandoned the historical period standard and have adopted a versatile model related to the broader and more holistic field of cultural studies, one in which canonic and noncanonic literature could play a key role? There is certainly no shortage of examples of new "routing mechanisms" to flesh out French and francophone culture.9 In my section, the eighteenth-century specialist teaches a course that examines the transposition of eighteenth-century novels to the cinema of the twentieth century. Our cinema specialist teaches a course that compares the work of francophone film directors with that of their French counterparts on the Continent. Two of our twentieth-century specialists form the core of an interdisciplinary program they call Normandy Scholars. Involving faculty members from history, political science, and sociology, this program studies the phenomena and the "culture" of World War II, its precipitating events and its enduring aftermath. Students are selected for this elaborately organized program that includes an intensive full-semester curriculum of studies and concludes with a three-week study tour of Normandy. (22)
Asian American literature combines history, politics, and literature to articulate changing group and individual identity the themes of which include aesthetics, colonialism, immigration, transnationalism, globalization, gender, and sexuality.
The impact of change from the Middle Ages to the early modern world; how such historical pressures along with developments in mathematical perspective and science challenged earlier conceptions of space, artistic form, the self, politics, the divine, and the physical universe on the threshold of the modern era. Interdisciplinary methods of interpretation texts include: Aristotle, Dante, Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; Christine de Pizan, Letters of Columbus; Machiavelli, The Prince; Luther, Montaigne, Marlowe, Doctor Faustus; Wroth, Galileo, Donne, Shakespeare, Othello; and works of art and music.
Graphic novels Interdisciplinary. Evolution, subject matter, form, conventions, possibilities, and future of the graphic novel genre. Guest lectures. Collaborative creation of a graphic novel by a team of writers, illustrators, and designers. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
In addition to emphasis upon close reading different methods of educations can be practised.
These can include provided lectures on a given subject which can be presented by experts in various fields of study. The lectures could be performed solely by one, or jointly by two or more (dependant on how much time can be specified to a specific subject at hand and from how many aspects it can be studied) lecturers. The task is totally dependent on "openness to new approaches" (Moran 26). The feedback of the students also may be required in varied forms like "scholarly writing [or] belletristic journalism (26). In this very practice there can be a parallel study between the high and "lowbrow culture produced by the entanglement of different modes of writing in the emerging capitalist marketplace" (26). As Leavis called it "'a real literary interest is an interest in man, society and civilization, and its boundaries cannot be drawn; the adjective is not a circumscribing one'" (qtd. in Moran 27).
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching Literature
Nowadays programmes abound in faculties (e.g. in Stanford University) that offer interdisciplinary courses to the interested students not just to those studying literature but others in varied fields of humanities. These courses are recognized to be essential according to the needs and interests of literature students corresponding to their personal life and intellectual objectives. In such courses the emphasis is upon one broadly defined literary topic, period, genre, theme, or problem with an interdisciplinary program of courses relevant to that inquiry. These interdisciplinary fields can be chosen from among anthropology, arts, classics, comparative literature, European or other literature, feminist studies, history, modern thought and literature, philosophy, political science, and African American studies which should mainly focus on the course chosen by the students. Throughout the course the students must hand out interdisciplinary papers as well.
In order to define what is meant by the term one should go back to the root 'discipline' in the first place and the especial views towards it which has ended up in the emergence of 'inter'disciplinarity. Disciplines, according to Michel Foucault, "are constituted through the limitation of knowledge, fortification of boundaries, and parsimonious authorization of their speaking subjectsâ€¦[which] allow only certain speakers to say certain things in certain contexts" (qtd. in Scullion). Naturally the boundaries put by various disciplines cannot go with the essentially postmodernist/poststructuralist nature of various scientific realms of knowledge today. F.R. Leavis argues "'that the central problem with the modern university is one that afflicts society as a whole: the division of labour into self-contained units in 'technologico-Benthamite civilisation'" (qtd. in Moran 28). Elaboration needed.
Ironically enough, different scientific branches such as biochemistry, nanotechnology, medical engineering, or geophysics suggest that generally, scientific domains have proven to be more welcoming and open to the acceptance of interdisciplinary approaches to them than those of arts. The lack of interest in arts has been interpreted and justified in terms of the tendency of the arts practitioners to preserve their idiosyncrasies and uniqueness.
Yet, the trend has also started to find path into the world of arts in the post-War era. The insight was originally granted through the works of Foucault and Bourdieu. Nowadays, varied disciplines including anthropology, literature and literary theories, sociology, psychoanalysis, historiography, linguistics and semiotics, demography, politics and cultural studies, and film studies together have created a network of disciplines which can shed light upon subjects of studies from different perspectives, according to which the proponents of interdisciplinarity claim to have a better approach to the reality of things than each of them practised on their own. Lacan's contribution to post-Freudian psychoanalysis was influenced by the works of the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss whose theory of signifier in turn, had originated from the theories of the linguist Saussure. Roland Barthes, also extended his semiotic analysis to the cultural and political theories. It goes without saying that cinema and film industry has long since been affected by their interrelationship with the world of literature, especially in the adaptations of great literary works; the semiotic theories of scholars like Christian Metz also, stem from the same root. For Derrida, the basis of interdisciplinarity is founded upon the idea of 'gift' which provides the opportunity to escape "cold economic rationality" and traditional economism (Derrida in Wortham). The very discursive nature of gift (esp. in the fields of or connected to humanities) brings forth the interdisciplinary violation of rationality, "a violence that a critical discourse of culture would seem to effect as a condition of its response (to the call of the gift)" (ibid.).
Among all such disciplines cultural studies is best attended among literary theoreticians as an interdisciplinary field for it can embed distinct aspects of real life which are defined and justified through cultural issues and beliefs. Therefore, it is going to be studied in more depth than the rest mentioned.
Literature and Law
Literary texts have been long put in libraries of law books; this can prove the necessity of interdisciplinarity between the two. Dunlop presents the two terms of "Law in Literature" and "Law as Literature", the former being the "study of representations of the legal order in fiction" which covers the range of various literary genres. Major figures who populate law libraries are Shakespeare, Kafka, Camus, Dickens, and Melville. The latter on the other hand, "draws insight from literary criticism and theory to assist reading and interpretation of legal texts, and particularly judicial decisions" (Dunlop). Many writers since the time of Aeschylus have contemplated upon the subject in a way that the reader of their text could no longer take the same attitude towards the parties in legal cases as held before reading them. Dickens's Bleak House for example, brought the few number of Chancery jury members into spotlight as a major problem of the court in the nineteenth century. Orwell's 1984 pictures a dystopian image of "the absence of law" in the legal system just similar to its presentation in Kafka's "Before the Law" as an endless process of futility. The scene related to Portia's legal argument in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, if not less, is either equally or more interesting to the students of law than those of literature.
The appropriation and necessity of literary texts as part of the body of law challenges the "rationality and the rule of law" which observing the limits of rules disregards certain aspects of life (ibid.). What remains as a problem lies in the mastery of the second discipline.
Literature and Medicine
Medical notions have appeared in literary works since the time of Homer. Shelly's Frankenstein, Huxley's Brave New World, Camus's Plague, Perkins's The Yellow Wallpaper, and Kasey's One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest are few examples of the sort. It is believed that such scientific issues in literary works are to the benefit of both English, and science students, helping them have a better understanding of the cutting-edge issues of 21st century.
One Flew over Cuckoo's Nest was published in the time "when demonic causation ('The devil made me do it') could no longer explain aberrant behavior of psychotic patients"; neither could moral movements control the environment (Stripling). The matter in the mentioned story is the power struggle between the staff of the mental institution and those being institutionalized "afflicted by many types of mental illnesses" (Stripling). According to Stripling "the movie's graphic portrayal of treatments administered to unforgettable characters changed the course of medical history: electroshock treatment was replaced by talk therapy and drugs like Prozac" (Stripling). Once and for all, it in fact stopped or, to a great degree, lessened the flow of hospitalization of those whose nonconformity was diagnosed as abnormality.
Literature and Music
The cultural and aesthetic relations between the twin arts of literature and music have been noticed since antiquity. The "referential uncertainty" long specified to music is now regarded as a component of language (Cornik and Samuels). Wittgenstein claims "Understanding a sentence is much more akin to understanding a theme in music than one may think" (Cornik and Samuels). Consequently, the meaning of music happens to be more of a cultural matter. Peter Dayan also shows the essential role of music in "Derrida's theorization of textuality, emerging as the perfect metaphor for his conception of the original unknowable 'trace'. Some areas of interest can include "approaches to word and song, music and text in ritual context, musical narratives", etc. A good example can be the interdisciplinary study of Milton's Samson Agonistes and Handel's oratorio Samson providing ground for "teaching about literary and musical genre, about the Biblical tradition, about performance, about reception and audience, and more"(ibid.).
After all, there are serious and inevitable questions which deprive interdisciplinarity from a totally welcoming ground. The challenge of determining who is authorized for a given discipline to speak for, the impediment of language in foreign language and literature departments (which "strive to create as much linguistic and cultural authenticity as possible"), where they are to be positioned in the curriculum, the shortcuts in budget specified to extradisciplinary matters which Stanley Fish refers to as "War on higher education" are to mention only a few (Scullion).
There are scholars like Henry Higgins who take the growing trend of interdisciplinarity an outcome of today's consumerism and suggest that 'good' literature will eventually wither if interdisciplinarity is to be overvalued (Bloom qtd. in McCarthy). To him, "we must still teach literature in its fullest sense if our goal is the liberation of the spirit. We must not be seduced into thinking [that] literature is unimportant simply because the forces of consumerism, materialism, and the Hollywood entertainment enterprise all work against the refinement of critical thinking, linguistic expertise, and literary sensitivity" (qtd. in McCarthy).
Regardless of the oppositions to interdisciplinary nature of today's different disciplines, the benefits seem to outweigh its disadvantages. It is believed that the atmosphere provided is one of collaborative teachings between neighbouring faculty members as well as freeing students of their ignorance of the world around and beyond their own majors. Furthermore, it is decided that regardless of benefits or drawbacks, the essence of the times we are living in, demands the interdisciplinarity of seemingly diametrically opposing fields of thought and practice.