Transdisciplinarity across two-tiers: The case of applied linguistics and literary studies in U.S. foreign language departments

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5 Scopus citations


In the ten years since the Modern Language Association published their report, "Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World" (2007) dissatisfaction with the "two-tiered configuration" of US foreign language departments has become increasingly vocal. While the target of the criticism is often the curriculum, it has often been noted that programmatic bifurcations mirror institutional hierarchies, e.g. status differences between specialists in literary and cultural studies and experts in applied linguistics and language pedagogy (e.g. Maxim et al., 2013; Allen & Maxim, 2012). This chapter looks at the two-tiered structure of collegiate modern language departments from the perspectives of the transdisciplinary shape-shifters who maneuver within them - scholars working between applied linguistics and literary studies. These individuals must negotiate the methodologies and the institutional positions available to them - in many instances, the latter is what has prompted them to work between fields in the first place. The particular context of US foreign language and literature departments serves as a case study of the lived experiences of doing transdisciplinary work in contexts that are characterized by disciplinary hierarchies and the chapter ends with a call for applied linguistics to consider not only the epistemic, but also the institutional and affective labor needed to sustain transdisciplinary work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-52
Number of pages24
JournalAILA Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 31 2018


  • Applied linguistics
  • Institutional power
  • Literary studies
  • Transdisciplinarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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