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61 Special Forum: Victorian Studies and Interdisciplinarity that produced, disseminated, and gave an afterlife to it. Moreover, notes Miller, “that context is a dynamic, heterogeneous field, constantly changing” (15).The (ideal) interdisciplinary thinker, then, would be able to account for the linguistic , political, historical, social, and technological origins of a given subject, recognizing the necessarily provisional quality of any conclusions drawn from a context overdetermined by incessant flux. It is arguable whether the typicalVictorianist trained in English or history could produce genuine interdisciplinary scholarship within these exacting terms.As an inspirational model for inventive and illuminating scholarly work, however, Miller’s description of what he calls the polemical (because dialogic and cross-boundary) work of interdisciplinary studies has a good deal to offer. Not least, Miller encourages us to remember that interdisciplinary studies exist largely at the liminal space or plane between two or more disciplinary discourses: to understand how words and pictures signify together, in conjunction with one another, requires a set of interpretive strategies that can account for meaning-production as a process of simultaneity. Ultimately, interdisciplinarity cannot respect disciplinary boundaries because it cannot afford to privilege one kind of disciplinary research over another, one methodology over another. Works Cited Miller, J. Hillis. Illustration. Cambridge MS: Harvard University Press, 1992. Shires, Linda.“Victorian Studies and Cultural Studies: Interdisciplinarity, the Market, and a Call for Critical Realism.” Victorian Literature and Culture (1999): 481–86. • Back to the Future: Disciplinary Hauntings andVictorian Studies M a rjor ie Ston e • One of the questions forum contributors were asked to consider was “How is the field ofVictorian studies informed, structured, and/or haunted by nineteenth-century notions of interdisciplinarity?” Another was “What new approaches are needed in Victorian studies to create a truly inter- /multi-disciplinary field?” Instead of seeing the field as“haunted” by the past, I argue that our constructions of the past are “haunted” by the disciplinary formations of the present. Further, I contend that, if we are to devolve the discipline-function (much as Foucault seeks to deconstruct the ideological formation of the author, replacing it with the “author-function”), we need to historicize the disciplines and excavate the epistemologies of knowledge that preceded their formation. In doing so, we may find that“nineteenth-cen- victorian review • Volume 33 Number 1 62 tury notions of interdisciplinarity” prove to be as productive as some “new approaches” of our time. While some may critique interdisciplinarity as dilettantish or lacking in coherence, and others may celebrate how it breaks out of the boxes of specialization (Amey and Brown), in both instances the underlying assumption is that“interdisciplinarity is derivative of discipline,” as Steven Rogers, Michael Booth, and Joan Eveline observe in “The Politics of Disciplinary Advantage.” They rightly note how this assumption reflects the “strength of hegemonic narrative”:“[d]iscipline positions itself as a prototypical model for generating authority and thus sets the standards for judging what counts as knowledge and who will be afforded access to resources and influence” (2–4). In effect, while interdisciplinarity generates mutations, definitions, redefinitions, and debates, disciplines themselves are treated as “conceptual black boxes,” not as networks of historically and “locally produced practices, mythologies and artifacts” (Rogers, Booth, and Eveline 10).As Foucault reminds us, disciplinary “divisions of discourse” are“always themselves reflexive categories, principles of classification,” and thus “facts of discourse that deserve to be analysed beside others” (22). If we treat the disciplines as historically produced, the nineteenth century emerges as a critical age of “transition,” to echo Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Aurora Leigh (BookV, l. 163). In accord withThomas S. Kuhn, Lewis Pyenson identifies the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as the time when disciplinary divisions were institutionalized.“Ironically, the specialist ideology derived from an imperializing centralization of knowledge in the natural sciences,” Pyenson notes, and though“the humanities were slower to assert control over one or another domain of knowledge, we still live in the shadow of omnibus, nineteenth-century humanities disciplines: psychology and history (spawned from philosophy), archaeology (deriving from classics), linguistics (emerging from comparative philology), anthropology (splitting off from natural history)” (22).The process of discipline-formation Pyenson describes is illumined by Ekbert Faas’s 1988 literary-historical-psychological study...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 61-66
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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