Posts in epistemology
Excerpt: Chapter 6: Villains and Laughing Stocks, The Gender Jackpot, Transgressing the Boundaries

Obviously, I had by now known and accepted the premise that English Studies was a battlefield of “textual politics,” and that the players made no bones about their agendas. Previously, critics in the field, like the old New Critics with their plodding close reading of texts, had pretended to be neutral, but their neutrality was merely a thin scrim for cultural domination. Dead white men had ruled the English canon long enough. But this was only the most flagrant of offenses. Other suspects were singled out for prosecution – including an exclusive focus on the text itself (New Criticism), assuming the centrality or superiority of European culture (Eurocentrism), implicitly endorsing heterosexuality as a norm (heteronormativity), believing that humanity is exceptional and that individual humans have unitary selves (humanism), believing in an essence of human nature and/or in the essence of essential types of humans such as racial groups and women and men (essentialism), the belief that neutral knowledge is discoverable by scientific means (positivism), the belief that words might faithfully represent an external reality (logocentrism), and the privileging of the masculine in the construction of meaning (phallogocentrism) – among others. Every one of these notions or beliefs has been treated as a villain, a laughing stock, or both. 

Read More
Introducing Historical Inter-Field Studies: From “Material and Philosophick Necessity" to “Intellectual Physicks"

I wrote the following essay (“From ‘Material and Philosophick Necessity’ to ‘Intellectual Physicks’”) several years ago, as an inaugural entry into a new approach to outmode both “interdisciplinary” and “multi-disciplinary” studies. I called the approach Historical Inter-Field Studies….Historical Inter-Field Studies is needed, in particular to preclude a major pitfall of “interdisciplinarity”—namely, the anachronistic framing of the objects of study according to “disciplines,” when the domains of knowledge were not only divided differently but also in the periods that I study they did not conform to disciplines and were not referred to as disciplines. Disciplines did not exist as such.   

Read More