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date: 25 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the predisciplinary past and more recent inter- and trans-disciplinary developments in humanities. After presenting a snapshot of two disciplines—art history and music studies—it outlines the trajectories of two traditionally text-based disciplines, philosophy and literary studies. While the English word “humanities” derives from a cultural development beginning in ancient Rome, the formation of the modern disciplines in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a watershed in this history. Counter-traditions of general and holistic knowledge persisted, but specialization in segmented discipline-based domains increasingly shaped the contours of humanities education and research—to the detriment of older, transdisciplinary elements. Over the course of the twentieth century, a number of developments fostered interactions across the disciplines, extending from the importation of European philosophy and literary studies to postcolonial critique. Today new interdisciplinary fields appear as well as fresh efforts at transdisciplinary cultural and epistemological transformations.

Keywords: humanities, interdisciplinarity, disciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, philosophy, literary studies, music studies, art history

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