Human Sciences Theory and Method
The interest of many faculty and students in the Human Sciences is a result of certain theoretical/philosophical convergencesin particular, the convergence of ideas emerging from French structuralism and poststructuralism and German critical theory. These convergences ensured that the analysis of culture in a variety of fields became broader and more theoretically grounded, so that scholars in different fields were not just talking across them about the same subject, but actually reading and talking about some of the same intellectual work (Foucault, Lacan, Beauvoir, Fanon, Derrida, Bourdieu, Althusser, Habermas, Ricoeur, Lorde, Anzaldua, etc.) and using it in their own disciplines. This work has led to programs like Human Sciences where scholars from different fields are not just interested in similar topics, but can explore the possibilities of a common language. The institutionalization of that reality increases and deepens genuinely interdisciplinary work.
A brief way to conceptualize the methodology of the Human Sciences
Program is to think of it as triangulated into three principles/practices:
hermeneutical and epistemological analysis, textual analysis, and analysis
and critique of culture and society. One can see how specific disciplinary
methodologies come first to mind for each of these practices: Philosophy
for the first, literary disciplines for the second, and Anthropology
and Sociology for the third. But one quickly sees, as well, that these
methodologies are not fixed in one discipline. Disciplinary concerns
and methodologies are widely shared and continually reinterpreted within
new contexts: as, for instance, hermeneutical and epistemological rigor
is applied to a wide variety of social and cultural concerns, as textuality
is extended not only from written to spoken modes but to visual and
oral-aural (including potentially musical) modes, or as social and cultural
formations are reconceived as sites where texts are produced and consumed.
A strength of the Program is that it not only joins these areas of common
interest and practice and thus remains attentive to their complex interrelation,
but also centers them in historical depth (as regards especially, but
not only, Western traditions) and in cross-cultural inquiry and comparison.