The Program in Interpretation Theory provides Swarthmore College students and faculty with an interdisciplinary forum for exploring the nature and politics of representation. Reaching widely across the disciplines, work done in the minor reflects a long-standing drive to cultivate self-consciousness in the use of a significant range of interpretive methods. Students use this course of study to develop a flexible, comparative, critical, historicized grasp of theories of the production of meaning in and through cultural life. They also sharpen their skills in critical reading and intellectual analysis.
All academic disciplines, from anthropology to zoology, involve interpretation. What distinguishes Interpretation Theory from other departments and programs at Swarthmore is that interpretation itself constitutes the focus of study. Thus, in order for a course to be included in the Interpretation Theory minor, it must self-consciously and explicitly incorporate the study of hermeneutics and method in addition to whatever other subject matter may be explored. Therefore, rather than treating theory as secondary, the Interpretation Theory program stresses its centrality.
In addition to emphasizing the importance of hermeneutics and related questions of method and representation, the Program in Interpretation Theory is distinguished by its interdisciplinary character. Courses for the minor are drawn from a remarkable range of subject areas, including Anthropology, Art History, Classics, English Literature, Film and Media Studies, French, History, Linguistics, Literature, Peace and Conflict Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Russian, Spanish, and Sociology.