Chapter 9: Interdisciplinary Knowledge Work: Digital Textual Analysis Tools and Their Collaborative Affordances and Response

Reviewed by Jason Garnett

In their chapter, Monica E. Bulger, Jessica C. Murphy, Jeff Scheible, and Elizabeth Lagresa wrote about their experience working collaboratively as graduate students in a 2008 seminar where they used a number of tools to analyze various disciplinary texts. The daunting project brought four graduate students of various backgrounds together to analyze texts from new perspectives. Using a variety of tools provided by their instructor, the group was encouraged to play with the analysis process first with their own texts and then the texts each group member had selected. Doing so allowed the authors to give and receive new approaches to looking at texts.

The chapter largely focused on the process and methodologies the authors used throughout the class. In doing so, they presented their strategies for working together, including respecting one another's work, committing to the process, developing a sense of play, and being flexible with expectations (p. 257). They concluded that their approach to working together contributed to their success. In his response to his former students—included at the end of their chapter—Alan Lui commended the students for developing four foundational principles to guide them throughout the collaborative process, even endorsing those principles as the best definition of collaboration he had found.

This chapter offered unique perspectives from collaborators that other chapters do not. The collaboration for this chapter began as a class assignment; the chapter was a secondary project that resulted from the reflection that took place after the initial work was done. The chapter then stands as a testament to interdisciplinary collaboration. Furthermore, with the response by Lui, the chapter offered insight into his intentions alongside the insights of his former students. What this does is provide a model for not only how collaborative research can take place in the classroom, but also how the collaboration between student(s) and instructor can expand beyond the classroom walls.

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