Knowledges : Historical and Critical Studies in Disciplinarity


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"Socially and conceptually, we are disciplined by our disciplines. They help produce our world. They specify the objects we can study (genes, deviant persons, classic texts) and the relations that obtain among them (mutation, criminality, canonicity). They provide criteria for our knowledge (truth, significance, impact) and the methods (quantification, interpretation, analysis) that regulate our access to it. We have come to see these disciplines as so natural that we tend to forget their historical novelty and fail to imagine how else we might produce and organise knowledge", write the editors in the Introduction to this book. They have brought together a diverse group of contributors to examine how all sorts of knowledges have been constituted and how to reconsider their constitution. The essayists concentrate on several issues: how particular disciplines came into being (genealogy); how disciplines are demarcated from each other and from other ways of knowing (boundary-work); how disciplines are ordered internally (field construction); how individuals learn to be disciplinary practitioners (socialising practices); and how disciplines might be superseded as ways of producing knowledge (counter- and post-disciplinary projects). These five topics are refracted through a broad range of disciplines: accounting, art history, biochemistry, economics, education, gay studies, history of science, international relations, law, literary studies, mathematics, medicine, molecular biology, particle physics, and the philosophy of the social sciences. For all their breadth, the essays have considerable resonance. All of them imply the possibility of moving beyond disciplines to new ways,of knowing. Collectively, they challenge the universe of scholarship to new levels of self-consciousness and creativity.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 465 pages
  • 152.4 x 236.2 x 35.6mm | 975.23g
  • University of Virginia Press
  • Charlottesville, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0813914280
  • 9780813914282

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Author Information

Ellen Messer-Davidow is Associate Professor of English at the University of Minnesota. She is Editor, with Joan E. Hartman, of Volumes I and II of Women in Print and (En)Gendering Knowledge: Feminists in Academe. David R. Shumway is Associate Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. He is author of Michel Foucault. David J. Sylvan is Professor of International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. He is author, with B. Glassner, of A Rationalist Methodology for the Social Sciences.

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