Cross-disciplinary collaboration: shared items, objectives, and agents

Daphne Leong

Theorist and pianist Daphne Leong draws upon literature on collaboration in the sciences and in intercultural communication to theorize the bases for collaboration between scholars, performers, and composers. These are shared items such as scores, shared objectives such as concerts or presentations, and shared agents such as scholar-performers or composer-performers. These three shared bases enable collaboration in specific ways. Shared items are recognizable across domains, and can mediate and translate between them: a theorist need not understand the details of how a performer interprets a score, just as the performer need not grasp the details of the theorist’s analysis, but the score is a common source of meaning that mediates between their two knowledge bases. Shared objectives may include activity objectives (outcomes of collaborations such as publications, concerts) or epistemic objectives (potential areas of desired knowledge, such as the interpretation of a particular piece). Activity objectives motivate collaborative activities, direct roles, and divide labor. Epistemic objectives fuel attachment because of their incompleteness; they also generate questions not yet known to the collaborators. Finally, shared agents have competencies or identities in more than one domain; these agents function both within cultures (performance, scholarship, composition) and across them. The presentation elaborates on these bases for collaboration, illustrating them with real-life examples from Leong’s cross-disciplinary collaborations in authorship and performance. The examples display ways in which domain-specific knowledge is mediated, translated, and transformed through collaboration to produce new cross-domain knowledge.