19.427 le Goff on specialization

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 06:59:59 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 427.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 11:00:30 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: specialization

  From Jacques le Goff, The Medieval Imagination, trans. Arthur
Goldhammer (Chicago, 1988), p. 3:

>The academic disciplines are scandalously specialized, not only in
>France but in most other countries as well. This poses obstacles to
>interdisciplinary research, making all but inevitable failures to
>which those who have done everything in their power to make success
>impossible then point with unseemly amusement. More than that,
>specialization has created insuperable barriers even within the
>historical profession, making it impossible to carry out meaningful
>synchronic studies. The Middle Ages as reconstructed by our scholars
>is a Middle Ages without literature, art, law, philosophy, or
>theology. Fortunately, "pure" historians have been able to
>collaborate fairly successfully with archaeologists studying
>medieval life. Fortunately, too, some courageous medievalists have
>dared to look beyond the disciplinary boundaries, and a few
>openminded specialists from other disciplines have been willing to
>educate them or supply them with information. But a historian must
>have the stature of a Georges Duby before he can dare to write a
>book like The Age ofCathedrals, which, by the way, is a brilliant
>success. In order to bring about an interdisciplinary conference on
>a particular period such as the Spoleto Weeks founded thirty years
>ago by a group of Italian medievalists for the study ofthe early
>Middle Ages, historians must be not only enlightened but also
>powerful. Although matters have improved somewhat in recent years,
>we must still ask when France will have its own Institute for the
>Middle Ages or a Center for Medieval Studies.


Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7
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Received on Sat Nov 19 2005 - 02:09:34 EST

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