About: Indisciplines of Enlightenment

Organized by “The Material Cultures of Knowledge, 1500-1830″
University of California Multi-Campus Research Group

Seminar Organizers: Adriana Craciun and Ian Duncan
Location: UC Berkeley, July 19-22, 2012

The Material Cultures of Knowledge 1500-1830 UC Multi-Campus Research Group (MRG) will host each year a residential summer seminar, co-organized by participating faculty from two UC campuses. The first seminar, “Indisciplines of Enlightenment,” is organized by Adriana Craciun (UC Riverside) and Ian Duncan (UC Berkeley), and will be held on the UC Berkeley campus.

This seminar aims to reconfigure our disciplinary histories in light of recent work on the cultural, geographic and historical legacies of empire, science, travel and exploration in the global eighteenth century and its plural Enlightenments. Invoking the early scientific voyages of exploration of La Condamine, Maupertuis, Cook, La Perouse, Humboldt and Darwin, our seminar seeks to answer two questions that have not previously been addressed collaboratively in any extensive way. 1) What are the relations among concepts of the first, of the origin or original, of the foundation, in Enlightenment discourses? 2) Looking at modern disciplines in relation to one another, and specifically through their shared preoccupation with their own disciplinary origin myths and with firsts of their kind, how can we rewrite twenty-first century trajectories of disciplinary innovation and integration?

The seminar will bring together approximately 20 participants from multiple humanities disciplines. For shorter visits to the seminar, we are also inviting a number of social and natural scientists, who will join our conversations not as specialists in eighteenth-century studies, but as theoretically informed scholars working in the disciplines whose Enlightenment foundations our seminar explores. As twenty-first century natural sciences in particular move away from the humanities’ preoccupation with interdisciplinarity and towards the promised rigor of disciplinary “integration,” this seminar would provide a unique extended occasion to examine these divergent developments within a longer historical and broader disciplinary continuum than is typically possible.

Seminar Details: Participants and Program (plus password-protected Readings)