The optimum shape of disciplines in engendering certain ways of thinking about the world has haunted us ever since specialized knowledge ﬁrst emerged as a contender for general intellectualism. Debates over the value of disciplines – their placement, their role, their power – oscillate between a broadbased celebration of the capacity to think in rigorous, trained ways and a condemnation of the power of disciplines to enforce and police knowledge acquisition. One given of disciplinary knowledge is its naturalization, the way in which disciplinary modes of thinking become unquestioned aspects of the default setting for academic inquiry. At times, the naturalization of disciplinary perspective becomes so entrenched that we can forget how much of what we know in the academy is driven without a clear correspondence to how we came to the knowledge we possess. This book is an attempt to force our attention to the linkage between what
we know and how we know it, and it makes that attempt on the back of the intersection, strong in some quarters and uneven in others, between communication and history. Posited in this book as two approaches to knowledge that have formed at diﬀerent times on the backs of diﬀerent conceptual prisms, epistemologies and methodological tools, the book traces what happens to what we know when the two disciplines engage. The possibilities associated with their engagement – indiﬀerence, negotiation, contestation, adaptation, even collision – introduce a rearrangement of the longstanding relationship between content and form, bringing issues of form – how we think – to the forefront of our attention and making the questions at the heart of this project clear-cut and necessary: When and how do communication and history impact each other? When and how does each change what the other notices about the world? More speciﬁcally, when and how do particular kinds of platforms encourage historians and communication scholars to look beyond their disciplinary boundaries? Which kinds of cues encourage them to reject old paradigms and embrace new ones? One might ask why paying heed to disciplinary boundaries ultimately mat-
ters. In that all of us experience knowledge in far more integrated ways than our disciplinary boundaries suggest, we need to do better at oﬀering an
understanding of knowledge acquisition that in part parallels what happens to knowledge in the world at large. If how we think inhabits a critical space in relationship to what we think we know, we need to account for it in the models that we present to the public, to our students and ultimately to ourselves. If we do not, the notion of the ivory tower, anathema for many contemporary academics, will persist as the outstanding prism through which to consider scholarly work.