Tag Archives: hermeneutics

Podcast: The Politics of Interpretation and the Interpretation of Politics

Podcasts from the interdisciplinary conference ‘The Politics of Interpretation and the Interpretation of Politics’, which was organized by Jens Olesen (Oxford) and held at the Department of Politics and International Relations, have now been released on itunes. The conference provided a setting in which distinguished proponents and critics of some of the prevalent interpretive approaches currently used in humanities and social sciences research engaged in a rigorous debate about the advantages and costs of Hermeneutics, Contextualist and Straussian Approaches, Feminist Interpretations and Deconstruction, and to discuss the political assumptions that inform them, as well as aims that drive them.

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CONF: Graduate Student Panel of the Interdisciplinary Conference “The Politics of Interpretation & The Interpretation of Politics”, 23-24 September, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford

Within the last fifty years, interpretation has become one of the most important intellectual paradigms of humanities and social sciences scholarship. Theories about law and literature, philosophy and political thought, history and theology all rely on textual interpretation. Issues such as the role of intentions in the interpretation of texts, the question of whether texts determine, or constrain, interpretations of them, and how much, if any, contextual information is required for their understanding, concern all those disciplines, and call for cross-disciplinary collaboration and exchange. Finally, the simultaneous proliferation of certain interpretive approaches such as ‘hermeneutics’, ‘deconstruction’, and ‘feminist (re)readings’ of texts across disciplinary divides has shown the permeability of these boundaries, and has thus made this call for collaboration even more pertinent.

This conference will provide a setting in which distinguished proponents and critics of some of the prevalent interpretive approaches currently used in humanities and social sciences research are able to engage, for the first time, in a rigorous debate about the advantages and costs of each approach, and to discuss the political assumptions that inform them, as well as aims that drive them.

One of the primary goals will be to evaluate the validity of each interpretive method in reference to the readings it produces when applied to texts. Some of the key questions in this respect include: What is it that each method can or cannot claim to be able to show? To what extent do these methods succeed both in theory and in practice? Do they prevent or improve our understanding of texts? A second focus of the conference is to shed light upon the political dimension of interpretive enterprises and to decode their ideological presuppositions. There has virtually been no interdisciplinary exchange about the question of whether these approaches are ideologically sustained, and if so, whether ideologically charged approaches in turn induce interpreters to systematically ignore some aspects of texts, whilst emphasizing others. Here, consequences will be drawn for the interpretation of politics, widely construed.

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Workshop on “Methods of Interpretation and the Politics of Hermeneutics”, MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory 2011

Call for Papers for the MANCEPT Workshop

Methods of Interpretation and the Politics of Hermeneutics

31st August- 2nd September 2011, University of Manchester

Political theorists have responded somewhat ambiguously to the ‘interpretive turn’ that shaped the humanities and social sciences in the mid to late twentieth century. After an initial phase of turning attention to questions of interpretive method in the 1960s and 70s, which led to fierce methodological disputes over contributions from Cambridge historians, they subsequently turned away from such questions in the 1980s and 90s, based on the assumption that all practitioners implicitly agree on how they interpret texts. With the twenty-first century, the vocation has entered a third phase in which there is an increasing recognition that hermeneutic methods have yet to be adequately addressed.

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