Volume 3 Issue 2 (2007): On Beyond Interdisciplinarity
Rethinking the Questions

Synecdoche and Surprise: Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production

Anne Dalke
Bryn Mawr College
Elizabeth McCormack
Bryn Mawr College
Published November 19, 2007
  • knowledge production,
  • interdisciplinary,
  • transdisciplinary,
  • humanities,
  • physics,
  • science education,
  • feminism,
  • feminist theory,
  • haiku,
  • non-deterministic
  • ...More


Using contemporary insights from feminist critical theory and the literary image of synecdoche, we argue that transdisciplinary knowledge is productive because it “maximizes serendipity.” We draw on student learning experiences in a course on Gender and Science to illustrate how the dichotomous frameworks and part-whole correspondences that are predominant in much disciplinary discourse must be dismantled ifor innovative intellectual work to take place. In such a process, disciplinary presumptions interrogate and unsettle one another to produce novel questions and answers.