Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Multidisciplinarity / Interdisciplinarity

Other than clocking in at a whopping eight syllables, what do these words really mean? I'm working on an annotated bibliography for my Ethnography project, and for the introduction I want to talk about how/where I'm "situating" my research in "the field" -- of which there actually isn't "one," at all. I've got one foot in two fields--Anthropology, which is actually the department in which the course is, and TESOL, which is more specifically what I'm studying ethnographically (I'm observing ESL classes. TESOL, of course, fits under the rubric of "Applied Linguistics" as well. Linguistics and Anthropology do a lot of cross-pollinating, and both could accurately be described as "multidisciplinary."

Anyway, I don't want to get bogged down in the details of what it means to be interdisciplinary, but guess I do want to situate my own work as being a product of both my own interests and of necessity -- I have to be doing anthropology for the class, I should be doing TESOL for my degree, and in a broader sense I think I want to be "doing" applied linguistics -- that is, studying language and culture. As ethnography encourages personal reflection on the research being done, this paper, as a supplement to my actual "mini-ethnography," is an ideal place for me to work out what it is I really want to do.

Possible Reading*: Interdisciplinarity: History, Theory and Practice by Julie Thompson Klein

By the way -- what is Applied Linguistics? Maybe the mission of the Center for Applied Linguistics will give us some idea. Their mission is:
"Improving communication through better understanding of language and culture."
To accomplish this mission, CAL "promotes and improves the teaching and learning of languages; identifies and solves problems related to language and culture;serves as a resource for information about language and culture; conducts research on issues related to language and culture."

(*which is to say, maybe you'd like to read it; I certainly don't have time to.)

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