New Approaches to Methods

Graduate students from the English Department at UMass-Amherst invite you to participate in a one-day symposium devoted to the question of method in the humanities and social sciences. The turn towards interdisciplinarity in these fields suggests that we need to be consistently reflective about how we conduct research, evaluate texts, and construct interpretive frameworks about our subjects. For the purposes of this symposium, we conceptualize “method” broadly to include:

  • question formation
  • modes of analysis and argument
  • choice of archive
  • canon formation and recovery work
  • citational practices
  • positionality
  • inter- and multi-disciplinarity
  • modes of data collection (such as quantitative/qualitative analysis, discourse analysis, archival work)
  • modes of writing (such as autobiography, ethnography, autoethnography)

This one-day event will feature concurrent workshops in queer, postcolonial, and black studies, respectively, which will allow participants to receive feedback from eminent scholars and graduate peers in their individual fields and to collaboratively reflect upon “what we talk about when we talk about method.” Participants will be expected to pre-read peers’ proposals and offer critical comments and/or questions before the workshops commence as well as to contribute to a working archive of field-specific methodological resources. It is our hope that each participant might walk away from the event with both a clearer understanding of “method” and insights into how method and/or methodologies might inform their own projects. Each of the three workshops will consist of approximately eight to ten graduate students and will be guided by an invited non-UMass faculty member. The afternoon roundtable — as well as the reception that follows it — will allow for a large-group discussion about methods as interpreted and practiced by our invited scholars.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

The organizing committee of this symposium is grateful for the generous support offered by a number of sponsors at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst: the Department of English, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Graduate School, the Chancellor’s Office, the Provost’s Office, the Office of Equity & Inclusion, the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute, the Institute for Social Sciences Research, and the departments of Communication, Languages, Literatures & Cultures, Afro-American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.