Associate Professor Bonnie Mak will present, "On Interdisciplinary Endings," as part of a panel at the upcoming Modern Language Association Annual Convention (MLA 2017) in Philadelphia. Sponsored by the discussion group on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Culture and Society, "The Ends of Interdisciplinarity," will feature an open conversation about different aspects of interdisciplinarity in research, media, and teaching. Mak has been invited to reflect on the status of "inter-discipline" in academic practice with faculty drawn from across North America in Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies, and History.
"Because my research is located at the intersection of the humanities, social sciences, and the arts, I look forward to exchanging ideas with colleagues who are conducting different kinds of interdisciplinary work," Mak said. Complementing the other papers that will focus on scholarly life and pedagogy, Mak's presentation explores the products of interdisciplinary research. "Academic institutions continue to encourage interdisciplinary research and collaboration, but there has been little thought as to the infrastructures required to make such endeavors attractive, feasible, or legible. For example, who might be qualified to review a collaborative project that combines aspects of medieval studies, information science, and design? Who is the audience for such work, and where might it be published? What metrics does the university propose to use to gauge its value, and how do institutions plan to support its dissemination and preservation?"
Mak is jointly appointed in the iSchool and the Program in Medieval Studies at Illinois. Her first book, How the Page Matters (2011), examines the interface of the page as it is developed across time, geographies, and technologies. A second book-length project, Confessions of a 21st-Century Memsahib, examines the digital texts and images that are increasingly being used as resources for humanistic scholarship. She was inaugural Senior Fellow at the Center for Humanities and Information at the Pennsylvania State University for the 2015-2016 academic year and currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.