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victorian review • Volume 33 Number 1 44 history of art, as is happening at the Camden campus of Rutgers University. Not coincidentally, scholars trained inVictorian studies are prominent among the leaders of the childhood studies movement. One possible role for Victorian studies to play in the academy, then, is as a progenitor of fields that, organized according to some different principle (in the case of childhood studies, age), both overlap with nineteenth-century British culture and extend beyond it. In doing so, it will continue to contribute to the ongoing reshaping not only of our understanding of Victorian society, but also of interdisciplinarity itself. Simultaneously, scholars trained inVictorian studies who work in these overlapping fields will bring theirVictorian experience to bear on their non-Victorian research and vice versa, in a cross-pollination that has the potential to benefit both areas. Beyond interdisciplinarity, in other words, may lie hybrid vigour. • Victorianists and the Politics of Interdisciplinarity in the Academy Fr a ncis O’G or m a n • Modern interdisciplinarity takes some authority from the Victorian period: George Henry Lewes, John Ruskin, John Stuart Mill, and Leslie Stephen are among the tutelary figures; the Cornhill, the Fortnightly, even the Strand are among suggestive print precursors. But the political pressures in favour of interdisciplinarity on contemporary academics belong in a different world.Those pressures are not confined toVictorianists, but we—particularly in the United Kingdom, with its distinctive and changing structure of university funding—feel them sharply.There are vibrant intellectual reasons for interdisciplinary developments in the arts and humanities, and I do not seek to query them. My own work has been and remains specifically about literary texts, and also interdisciplinary in its concern, for instance, with the visual and, recently, with Victorian literature and finance. Where good intellectual reasons exist, they are a sufficient justification, and indeed the only justification (though interdisciplinary research must neither claim nor seek to obtain, by the simple fact of its interdisciplinarity, an intellectually privileged position over research that is not). My anxieties, as expressed below, are about significant pressures on university research that are other than intellectual. Interdisciplinarity has surprisingly become part of a researcher’s daily discourse, without that researcher always possessing a very clear understanding of the political environments in which interdisciplinarity is now managed and funded. My concerns here are about the shaping of intellectual work in response to political forces that take their origin outside of academe. 45 Special Forum: Victorian Studies and Interdisciplinarity What, in terms of political drivers, is behind the present emphasis on interdisciplinarity in the arts?There are three major facets to aVictorianist’s relation with interdisciplinarity in today’s academia. One is institutional, one financial, and one about public policy.All are closely interrelated.At an institutional level, interdisciplinarity is, in part, impelled by an understandable managerial desire for clearer lines of communication. From the top downwards, or the centre outwards, more accountable systems of reporting and more (apparently) manageable clusters in the complex organizations of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are achieved, it is hoped, by bringing hitherto separated academics into larger groups.This reorganization concerns structures from departmental to university levels, and may, in due course, go beyond the individual university to the organization of higher education nationally (I confine myself here to publicly funded not privately funded universities). One consequence of streamlining has certainly been that scholars of different disciplines have been brought together in groups under single management structures. Scholars have accordingly found themselves working besides colleagues with whom they have not worked before.Typically in the United Kingdom, English departments in various HEIs have become part of larger structures delivering research and teaching in, for instance, the disciplines of media and communications, journalism , film studies, modern languages and cultures, contemporary history, or European studies. Being managed as a multidisciplinary group is a structural incentive for research collaboration that is interdisciplinary. Research that crosses boundaries consolidates, in this respect, the efforts of large institutions simply to manage the diversity of their academics.And such managerial clarity is part of a wider effort of universities, precisely, to manage.The running of academia is now, as in other public bodies, a high profile...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 44-47
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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