Presentation at UCSB Doctoral Colloquium Class on “Fields”

This page was created for Alan Liu’s presentation at the Nov. 13,  2019, class of the UCSB Engiish Department’s Doctoral Colloquium on “fields.” The topic as defined by the Doctoral Colloquium instructor, Prof. Elizabeth Cook, was as follows:

The ‘field’ focus: While beginning to frame up their own projects, Colloquium participants have also been talking about what a field is and how we define it. Do fields matter? What do fields ‘do’ for (academic or other) writers, and how do we decide which field(s) we want to be part of? Within a field, how do we engage with others who are exploring the same terrain? How do we bridge from existing, foundational work in the field to current and emergent issues? How do we make our work legible within field, while not excluding cross-pollination with critics in other fields?

(Page last rev. 13 Nov. 2020)
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  • “Field” as the intersection of:
    • domain-expertise (area of special knowledge)
    • and professional/institutional community (e.g., conferences, journals, hiring fields)
  • But also “field” in a trans-field sense:
    • Intellectual movements (e.g., ”theory” in the 1970s-1980s and its carrier fields, e.g., Romanticism [deconstruction] or Renaissance studies [New Historicism])
  • Example of digital humanities (DH) as a “field”
    • DH as field:
      • Liu, Alan. “Is Digital Humanities a Field? ‒ An Answer from the Point of View of Language.” Journal of Siberian Federal University 7, no. 9 (2016): 1546–52.
      • Linguistically, and also professionally, digital humanities increasingly behaves as a singular field. Of course, the precise scope, organization, and nature of the digital humanities as a disciplinary field are still being shaped through normal scholarly processes (augmented by today’s online methods). I mean by normal scholarly processes the academic job descriptions, curriculum descriptions, grant announcements, conference proceedings, discussions on the Humanist listserv. . . , blog posts, tweets in the vigorous digital humanities Twitter community, and so on that augment the research literature in constructing the notion of the field.” (p. 1548)
    • DH as trans-field:
      • Analogy of “theory” in the 1970s-1980s.
    • “How do we make our work legible within field, while not excluding cross-pollination with critics in other fields?”