Performance and Science: An Interdisciplinary Colloquium

19th September 2014, University of Kent

Dr. Evelyn Tribble, ‘Is All Our Company Assembled’?: Reflections on Interdisciplinary Work’

This talk will consider where the ‘inter’ is in ‘interdisciplinarity.’ Are we working across, between, within, or among disciplines, or are we describing a new post-discipline model of academic work? In this talk I will argue for the vital importance of disciplinary knowledge and practice as a bedrock for interdisciplinary inquiry. At the same time, responsible interdisciplinary work also requires mapping the target discipline, which can be a challenging undertaking when entering unfamiliar terrain. A common pitfall is imagining other disciplines as a settled backdrop rather than a contested, often contradictory and rapidly changing body of work, which I will show through a brief review of the wildly disparate ways in which the term ‘embodiment’ has been employed across disciplines. I will suggest that the way forward is seeking bi-directional, mutual illumination from multiple perspectives on questions of pressing common interest.

Dr. Freya Vass-Rhee, ‘Minding metaphor: Re-grounding arts-sciences interdisciplinarity through pedology’

Common metaphors of disciplines as terrains and interdisciplinarity as bridging imply a solidity, separateness, and stratification that both misconstrue the nature of intra-disciplinary thought and fail to accurately reflect the dynamics of collaborative interdisciplinary research. Further, such metaphors, given their inherent geological grounding, tacitly reinforce a hierarchy of the sciences as “hard” rational knowledge and the arts as “soft,” inspirationally driven practices. Discussing collaborative research initiated under the auspices of the Dance Engaging Science workgroup (2011-13), which brought dancers, scientists and scholars together aiming to refine dance-science research methodologies, I draw alternate metaphors from the field of pedology, which recognises soils as porous ecologies of interactive complexity and flux. As I argue, collaborations across the arts and sciences reveal differences not only in intra- and interdisciplinary constitution and dynamicity but also in the development, firmness, and function of methodological and ideological ground. In doing so, they afford a metacritical interrogation of the impact of metaphor on knowledge work in general.