Interpretation Today

Organizers: Kári Driscoll and Inge van de Ven
Contact:  Inge van de Ven,
Register: contact Eloe Kingma at Please specify your home institution and programme

Interpretation Today: Hermeneutics, Anti-hermeneutics, and Post-hermeneutics

How can we assess the status of interpretation in the Humanities today? Increasingly in the last decades, scholars have written about the limits of interpretation. Recent forms of ‘distant reading’ in Digital Humanities, experiments in machine reading, critiques of historicism, and narratives of the ‘turn away from the linguistic turn,’ all foreground the epistemological restrictions inherent to the practice of interpreting individual texts. We discuss various orientations toward reading that oppose some of the hallmarks of the hermeneutic tradition—such as depth, consciousness, the primacy of language, humanism, interpretation, mediation, epistemology, and historicism. Instead, these theories value surfaces, description, cognition, affect, materiality, nonhuman entities, the natural and social sciences, and speculative thought.

After rehearsing some of the tenets of hermeneutics through readings of Heidegger and Gadamer, we delve into a range of different forms of post- and anti-hermeneutic criticism such as media archaeology (Ernst, Kittler; Flusser; Parikka); speculative realism and object-oriented ontology (Bryant; Harman; Meillassoux); surface reading (Best and Marcus; Sedgwick; Sontag), and quantitative formalism (Moretti; Allison et al.). In our seminar, we critically assess these various orientations and try to rethink the uses and disuses of hermeneutics for the present moment.



Wednesday 20 Sept. 15.15-17.00; Tilburg University, room C186 (Ruth First)

  1. Ontological hermeneutics and Phenomenology I: Heidegger, Gadamer. Introduction by Frans van Peperstraten.
  • Heidegger, Beind and Time. 1927. Trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell, 1962. Ch.5, par. 31-34 (pp.182-210).
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method, 2nd ed., trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. London and New York: Continuum, 2004 [orig. 1960]. Selection.

Wed 25 Oct.? 15.15-17.00. Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

  1. The Hermeneutics of Suspicion: Ricœur, Derrida, and critiques of Gadamer. Introduction by Gert-Jan van der Heiden and Sanem Yazicioglu
  • Paul Ricœur, Freud and Philosophy, 1965. Selection.
  • Paul Ricœur, From Text to Action, 1986. Selection.
  • Van der Heiden, Gertjan. The truth (and untruth) of language: Heidegger, Ricoeur and Derrida on disclosure and displacement, Pittsburgh, PA:
  1. Speculative realism and Object-oriented Ontology. Introduction by Alex Gekker.
  • Bryant, Levi. “Onticology–A Manifesto for Object-Oriented Ontology, Part 1.” Larval Subjects,   2010.
  • Meillassoux, Quentin. After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. New York: Continuum, 2008. Selection.
  • Harman, Graham. Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects. Peru, Illinois: Open Court, 2002. Selection.
  • Alexander Galloway “The Poverty of Philosophy: Realism and Post-Fordism.” Critical Inquiry2, 2013. 347-66.

Friday 15 Dec. 15.15-17.00; Utrecht University, …

  1. Media archaeology I: Friedrich Kittler & Vilém Flusser. Introduction by Kiene Brillenburg Wurth.
  • Kittler, Friedrich A. Discourse Networks 1800/1900. Trans. Michael Metteer and Chris Cullens. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1990. Introduction; selection.
  • Flusser, Vilém. Does Writing Have a Future? Nancy Ann Roth. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2011. 3-53.

Friday 19 Jan. 15.15-17.00; Leiden University, …

  1. Media archaeology II: Wolfgang Ernst and Jussi Parikka. Introduction by Ernst van Alphen.
  • Ernst, Wolfgang. Digital Memory and the Archive. Ed. Jussi Parikka. Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P, 2013. Selections.
  • Parikka, Jussi. What Is Media Archaeology? New York: Wiley, 2012. Selections.

16 Feb. 15.15-17.00; Utrecht University, ….

  1. Technology, Algorithmic Culture, Humanity. Introduction by Kári Driscoll.
  • Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time (vol. 1). Selections.
  • Alexander Galloway, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006. Selection. [or another title?]

16 March 15.15-17.00; Tilburg University, …

  1. Distant reading and quantitative formalism. Introduction by Tom van Nuenen.
  • Allison, Sarah, et al. “Quantitative Formalism: An Experiment.” Stanford Literary Lab, Pamphlet 1, 15 Jan. 2011.
  • Jockers, Matthew L. Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Ch. 1 (Revolutions); Ch. 2 (Evidence); Ch. 3 (Tradition). 3-23.

20 April 15.15-17.00; Leiden University; …..

  1. Surface reading/reparative reading/the descriptive turn. Introduction by Inge van de Ven.
  • Felski, Rita. The Limits of Critique. U of Chicago P, 2015. Selection.
  • Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Duke UP, 2003. [ch 4: “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or: You’re so paranoid, you probably think this essay is about you.”]
  • Sontag, Susan. “Against Interpretation.” [1966]. Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001. 3-14

25 May 15.15-17.00; Tilburg University; …

  1. Fragmented realism: Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Deleuze. Introduction by Daan Rutten.
  • Deleuze, Giles. Difference and Repetition, 1968. Selection.
  • Willem Schinkel, Aspects of Violence, 2010 Selection.
  • Optional: Arjen Kleinheerenbrink, Alles is een machine, 2017

15 June 15.15-17.00; KNAW, Trippenhuis. Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011, Amsterdam.

  1. Agamben’s Potentialities. Introduction by Geertjan de Vugt.
  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2



This is a NICA core activity. Completing this activity earns you a certificate specifying the number of EC credits at stake. You can have this certificate formally registered at your institution’s administrative office. You may need to acquire the permission of your program coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this activity.