Building New Bridges: Sources, Methods, and Interdisciplinarity.


277 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 978-0-7766-0593-7
DDC 300'.1




Edited by Jeff Keshen and Sylvie Perrier
Reviewed by Jeffrey Moon

Jeff Moon is head of the Maps, Data, and Government Information Centre
at Queen’s University.


Building New Bridges: Sources, Methods, and Interdisciplinarity is a collection of 20 essays on an eclectic and varied range of topics. Consider: the history of anatomy models, use and misuse of oral histories, and the historical lessons of war memorials. Yet another essay looks at differences between the original and dubbed versions of Star Trek in Quebec. As varied as these themes are, essays in this collection possess a common thread, namely: to seek out and apply new sources and new methodologies—to boldly go where no single discipline has gone before! (Apologies to James T. Kirk.)


Borrowing sources and methods from other disciplines is nothing new in the sciences, but for the humanities and social sciences, this practice is less established. This book brings together works by both French and English contributors and serves to highlight the importance of interdisciplinarity in humanities and social science research. By looking beyond official statistics, beyond the well-trodden archival path, and beyond traditional historical sources, authors in this work argue their individual cases with vigour, but also argue by example for the interdisciplinary approach that is this book’s unifying theme. Sources used include newspapers, anatomical models, television shows, census records, war monuments, engineering standards, and oral histories. Researchers have stepped outside the boundaries of their discipline’s traditional methodologies to take a fresh look at research questions.


The book includes brief biographies of contributors, but lacks an index. Each essay has either a bibliography or extensive footnotes. I preferred the footnotes, because they often included parenthetical comments to clarify a point. One would have to be an expert in a vast array of disciplines to truly understand and appreciate the scholarship contained in this book. From a strictly “topical” perspective, these essays, while individually intriguing, seemed disjointed in their association. The editors, in their introduction, however, make it clear that the real goal here was to bring together research that challenged traditional boundaries and to act as a sort of “methodological primer” for the humanities and social sciences. If “the method is the message,” then Building New Bridges has achieved this goal.


“Building New Bridges: Sources, Methods, and Interdisciplinarity.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,