19 Sep 2003 - 21 Sep 2003 All day New Hall and West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge


Conference sponsored by CRASSH (University of Cambridge) with additional support from Trinity College, Cambridge


This conference aims to stimulate discussion about the kinds of critical languages used within the scholarly as well as the public sphere, and the linguistic challenge that represents an increasingly interdisciplinary research culture within the modern Humanities.

The question as to what kind of language(s) a critic chooses to use is intimately connected to ideas about the purpose and readership of critical writing. Given the conventions of professional critical prose in academia, critics are often expected to give weight to handed-down knowledge, to questions of origin, and to historical, cultural, and social context. Often they are encouraged to avoid a personal style of writing. Might a more immediate and individualized response, possibly in the spirit of a 'close reading', lead to a better kind of critical writing that would send the reader back to the art work, to look at it, read it or listen to it again, with a heightened sense of understanding and – more crucially – responsiveness and enjoyment? Or is the outcome of such an approach likely to be atomism? As regards interdisciplinary work, are the languages used in the different specialisms transposable from one field into another? Or do we need a meta-language? What are the advantages as well as the difficulties and risks when using different methods and modes of analysis?

Many of our invited speakers have made powerful statements in this respect through the very nature of their work. In(ter)discipline offers an exceptional opportunity to debate these and other approaches and to examine the significance of language in criticism.

The conference forms part of the long-term research programme New Languages for Criticism: Cross-currents and Resistances, co-directed by Professor Dame Gillian Beer, Professor Malcolm Bowie and Dr Beate Perrey, and sponsored by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Malcolm Bowie, Christ's College Cambridge
Dame Professor Gillian Beer, Clare Hall Cambridge
Dr Beate Perrey, University College London


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk