Interdisciplinary Histories Conference

Organised by Rethinking Sexology project, University of Exeter

Date: 13th & 14th February 2017

Location: Mercure Southgate, Exeter (full address here)

The first Rethinking Sexology conference examines dynamics of interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration from a historical perspective. It asks what can be gained by exploring moments, sites and traditions of dialogue across disciplines, fields of knowledge and forms of expertise in the past. One area of interest is late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sexual science: Western European sexual scientists, including those with medical training, articulated an inclusive vision for sexual science that involved diverse fields like anthropology, biology, history, literature, psychology, sociology and zoology. The conference also aims to move beyond sexual science to consider alternative perspectives on how boundaries between areas of knowledge and expertise have been constituted, crossed and contested across history and to understand shifting definitions of terms like ‘science’ or ‘discipline’. Most importantly, the conference will offer an opportunity for dialogue between scholars situated within and across (or outside of) a variety of disciplines and fields.

Questions we hope to be able to address include, but are not limited to:

  • How has exchange across disciplines, fields and areas of knowledge changed and shifted across e.g. cultural, historical, linguistic and national borders? How does this relate to changing definitions and understandings of ‘science’?
  • What methodologies can we use to understand exchange and collaboration across disciplines and fields in the past and present?
  • What are the benefits and challenges of writing ‘disciplinary’ histories?
  • Can historical perspectives on exchange and dialogue in the past inform collaborative working practices today? How?
  • What can we learn about our own disciplinary mindsets and methodologies by studying their emergence and intersection with other disciplines and fields in the past?

Keynote speakers: Dr Des Fitzgerald (Cardiff University) and Professor Felicity Callard (Durham University).

This conference is part of the Wellcome Trust-funded Rethinking Sexology project at the University of Exeter.