Modalities of the 'Undisciplined' (Roundtable)


Women's and Gender Studies / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Kara Pernicano (Stony Brook University, SUNY)

How do multimodal practices complicate the disciplines? What is multidisciplinarity vs. interdisciplinarity? What does it mean to be “undisciplined”?

In solidarity with the black graduate students of UC Santa Barbara, who founded becoming undisciplined, a collaborative zine, we invite your contributions in response to these questions in a range of forms, including but not limited to essays, graphic scholarship, pedagogical models, poetry and art.

The collective, authoring becoming undisciplined, writes of the zine, “[It] takes its title from Christina Sharpe’s call for Black scholars to ‘become undisciplined,’ given that academic legibility often requires being ‘disciplined into thinking through and along lines that reinscribe our own annihilation’ (In the Wake, 13). We hope to connect to a community of graduate students and independent scholars interested in engaging and extending the work of Black visionaries who dodge, evade, improvise around, and funk with architectures of Black suffering — and the many mechanisms that (re)establish and uphold them.”

Turning to Christina Sharpe’s work, In the Wake, we may find a shared stake in a kind of manifesto to “become undisciplined.” If we understand “disciplines” to define the boundaries between fields, Sharpe likens academic disciplines to a colonizing force, enacting violence on bodies of learning.

Andy Hines’ recent book Outside Literary Studies: Black Criticism and the University may spark further debate regarding the politics of literary classifications. Roderick A. Fergusion writes in review of Hines’ new book, “Hines demonstrates that the history of the Black literary left must be understood as a critique of disciplinarity rather than a complement to it.” The book draws attention to the urgent need to assess the foundation of our pedagogy and restructure the modern institution. How and why do marginalized voices exist outside literary studies?

As we hope to transform the shape of disciplines and pedagogical models, we invite multidisciplinary scholars and artists from diverse backgrounds to forge a shared stake in a black feminist standpoint, dissect terms/labels, and build a collective that values inclusion inside and outside academia.


This roundtable, geared towards graduate students, independent scholars and early-career academics, seeks diverse voices to speak about the tension of interdisciplinarity and collaboration in the modern university. How do multimodal practices complicate the disciplines? What is multidisciplinarity vs. interdisciplinarity? What does it mean to be “undisciplined”? Contributions may include, but are not limited to: essays, graphic scholarship, pedagogical models, poetry and art.