Inaugural Beacon Institute Interdisciplinary Seminar, Friday 19th September 2014 image

To celebrate the launch of the University of Kent's Beacon Institute, a colloquium will be held on Friday September 19th on Performance and Science: Interdisciplinary Collaborations, featuring papers from Evelyn Tribble and Freya Vass-Rhee. The seminar will be held in the Aphra Theatre at the University of Kent in Canterbury, followed by an introduction to the Beacon Project by Nicola Shaughnessy and a drinks reception.


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 seekingbi-directional, mutual illumination from multiple perspectives on questions of pressing common interest.

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.