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New Human Disciplines

ISHA 2009-2010

As ISHA enters its tenth year at UMass, we announce a seminar theme for 2009-10 of ‘New Human Disciplines.’ Partly in celebration of our first decade, partly looking ahead, our aim is to help shape a consideration of our pasts, presents, and futures in various fields of human study and creative activity. A series of contexts makes such an investigation more resonant. In the national and global setting we face economies in crisis, political change in the air, urgent questions about our separate and collective futures. Campuses nationwide face realignments, reorientations, contractions, new possibilities. In these settings, what are the new contours of human exploration—or explorations of what it means to be human? Artists, scholars, and scientists all focus on exploring or giving expression to humanity, and have long done so within disciplinary boundaries. Yet, increasingly, many cross these boundaries in the name of new interdisciplinarities. What do such collaborations achieve, how can they be fostered, what new forms of ‘discipline’ can be imagined? What are our tasks, our failures, and our responsibilities both within and beyond our disciplines? What are the prospects and liabilities in the construction of new human ‘subjects’? Historically, how have new disciplines arisen? What have been their legacies, and what can we learn from the past? Alternatively, how is humanity being ‘disciplined’ by change, new regimes of authority, technology, and interaction? What will provide our sense of purpose and frame in human terms?  It is with some of these questions in mind that ISHA has designed a year-long seminar around the theme of New Human Disciplines.


Karen Cardozo

Commonwealth College

Banu Subramaniam

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Joint project: “Transgenic, Transgeneric, Transgenreic Futures: Imagining the New Human Disciplines”

Elizabeth Chilton

Department of Anthropology

“Cultural Heritage in the Twenty-First Century”

Aline Gubrium

Community Health Studies

Krista Harper

Department of Anthropology

Joint project: “Participatory Digital Research: Creative Human Sciences for Social Justice”

Yehudit Heller

Commonwealth College

“Translation as a Place”

James Hicks

Comparative Literature (UMass), American Studies (Smith)

“Lessons from Sarajevo: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into the Representation of Inhumanity”

Amanda Walker Johnson

Department of Anthropology

“Disciplinary Knowledges/Disciplining Children”

Randall Knoper

Department of English

“Gertrude Stein, the American Pragmatists, and Neuroscience”

Shona Macdonald

Department of Art and Art History

“The Studio Lab”

Brian Ogilvie

Department of History

“Objects and Their Disciplines: Collaboration, Indifference, and Contestation in Natural History and Natural Theology”