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BY: Michael Allen (Page 2)

Fortunately, a short book by Joe Moran entitled simply Interdisciplinarity clears up many problems with both the denotation and the connotation of "interdisciplinarity." His book provides an opportunity to critically reflect on the contemporary impetus toward interdisciplinary work among practitioners of literary theory, the sciences, philosophy, art, economics and the social sciences. This essay attempts to reflect upon Moran's arguments and make new ones, often on pure speculation, rather than simply evaluate his work.

Moran provokes such reflection because he succeeds in writing a book that meets its own terms of interdisciplinarity. Thus, he doesn't simply add his own thorns to the heap. At times, his book reads as a history of ideas in divergent fields. At other times, it reads as analysis of the constitution of specific fields: English, history, science and philosophy. Yet his work is always necessarily inner-disciplinary, and bears the mark of an English scholar. From the first page, Moran makes clear his intention to relate his own field of English to the (re)emergent process of interdisciplinarity. Thus he demonstrates his principle (which restates Hal Foster's) that interdisciplinarity is always already rooted in one discipline.

Interdisciplinarity is actually a relationship between disciplines, and not a metadiscipline. Even if he would want to, Moran cannot stipulate a relationship between disciplines without stipulating first those disciplines. Neither can anyone else. Those who call interdisciplinarity a metadiscipline, either to affirm its transcendental virtues or to bemoan them, ignore the inescapable fact that it is a 7described relationship and not an object. n Moran is a participant in a discipline, English, which is one of several that might reasonably assert itself as an interdisciplinary project and not a unitary discipline itself. Like history, English is a relatively young discipline with textual analysis at its center. Like philosophy, English has had some pretense of being a form of total knowledge for its speakers--taking all of its language as its subject.

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