ERIC Number: ED142493
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Apr
Reference Count: 0
American Studies as "a" Study: The Illusion of Unity.
Walker, Don D.
The paper states that the fragmentary character of knowledge makes unified study of a subject such as American Studies an illusion. Two aspects of the interdisciplinary approach are discussed: (1) the failure of subject fields such as American Studies to accept the predicament in which modern scholarship finds itself; and (2) the homogenizing of disciplinary integrities. The predicament is elaborated through comments by a psychologist, an economic historian, and a geographer. These three scholars maintain that as conceptions widen, they tend to become abstracted and lose their concrete particulars and conceptual unity. For example, typical training in American Studies includes a little history, a bit more English, a little anthropology, a cluster of classes in political science, and perhaps a course or so on the history of jazz. Whereas this training is viewed by some as acquiring the discipline of American Studies, it is viewed by others as learning no discipline at all. History is discussed as an example of a discipline which relates to economics and literature, but nonetheless retains a separate and distinct character. In conclusion, the effort to bring disparate disciplines together in the name of American Studies or another interdisciplinary field, blurs important and irreducible differences. (Author/DB)
Descriptors: Academic Education, American Studies, Content Analysis, Curriculum Evaluation, Educational Improvement, Educational Philosophy, Educational Problems, Educational Trends, Higher Education, Intellectual Disciplines, Interdisciplinary Approach, Knowledge Level, Majors (Students), Social Sciences, Specialization, Units of Study, Universities
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Western Social Science Association (19th, Denver, Colorado, April 21-25, 1977)