Bridging Multidisciplinary Spaces in Imagined Worlds (Panel)


American / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Cheryl Boots (Boston University)

Situated at the confluence of the Three Rivers, Pittsburgh is a city of bridges, where geographically and culturally separate places stand apart, yet are strategically connected. It is an apt metaphor for literary works that incorporate multiple genres. Unexpected combinations of texts offer the potential of vitality in diversity. Moving across genres in literary contexts creates spaces that enable energized engagement with literary works in innovative ways. The interpretive possibilities invite multiple interpretive approaches. Further, negotiating the spaces--bridging the texts within texts--creates opportunities and challenges in interpretation and analysis. For example, music's multivalent character invites the investigation of its interaction with the written word potentially revealing values and attitudes in a richly dense environment. In other instances, the interpretive work that occurs in the gutter of graphic texts conveys information and produces emotional responses in viewers of juxtaposed pictorial images. Multi disciplinary components create space in the imagined world (or worlds) of literature and affect the results of the ways those spaces are negotiated. To what extent do amalgamated works connect or divide readers, create or exclude community membership, contest or uphold established power structures, preserve or distort the reading experience? Bridges between diverse disciplines contained in American literature offer opportunities to enrich readers' interaction with these texts.


This panel invites papers that examine American literary works incorporating multiple genres or media. Examples of multidisciplinary texts within texts could include literature with poetry, memoir plus images, prose plus music, writing plus hyperlinks, and graphic novels. Of particular interest are the ways interdisciplinary components create space in the imagined world (or worlds) of literature and the results of the ways those spaces are negotiated.