Academic Program

Academic Program
The Interpretation Theory Program provides students and faculty with an interdisciplinary forum for exploring the nature, ethics, 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.


Students who minor in interpretation theory take a total of 6 courses that build on a combination of classic and current hermeneutic methods. Three general rules guide the selection:

  1. All minors are required to successfully complete the one-credit capstone seminar, team-taught by two faculty members from different departments, in spring of their senior year.  Juniors may enroll upon approval of the instructors, but the seminar must be taken in the spring of senior year in order to receive capstone credit.  First-year students are not permitted in the seminar.
  2. The remaining courses are elective, but must draw on at least 3 different departments. At least 4 of the 6 Interpretation Theory credits must be outside the major.
  3. A minimum "B" average is required for all minors by their junior and senior years.

Other courses may be considered upon petition to the Interpretation Studies Committee. These may include relevant courses offered at Bryn Mawr, Haverford College, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Capstone Seminar

Each year, graduating seniors enroll in a capstone seminar that proposes a structured investigation into an inherently interdisciplinary problematic. The capstone seminar embodies both the theoretical and interdisciplinary qualities that make interpretation theory distinctive and compelling.

Students majoring in a variety of disciplines come together with faculty members from 2 different areas to explore theories of knowledge and questions of interpretation and representation. For example, past capstone seminars have brought together professors from French literature and biology, political science and religion, sociology/anthropology and English, philosophy and art, classics and linguistics, and other interdisciplinary combinations.

Capstone titles have included Cultural Dimensions of Scientific Thought, Corporality in Storytelling; Rituals and Spectacles of Violence; Hero Time Travel; Mind, Body, Machine; Interpretation and the Visual Arts; Beyond Reason: Nietzsche, Levinas, and the Kabbalah; Mapping the Modern; and Visionaries of Spirit, Masters of Suspicion. View the Capstone Seminar Archive.

Honors Program

All students participating in the Honors Program are invited to define an Honors minor in Interpretation Theory. Students must complete one preparation for external examination. This 2-credit preparation can be:

    -  a 2-credit Honors seminar 
    -  the INTP Capstone plus a reading attachment or a thesis 
    -  a combination of two eligible courses in different departments
    -  a 2-credit thesis, or
    -  a combination of a thesis plus a related course

Any thesis must be multidisciplinary. The proposed preparation must be approved by the Interpretation Theory Committee. Honors minors must meet all other requirements of the interdisciplinary minor.