Hermeneutics: Key Theorists

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSOL3CL4064

Semester and Year Offered: WS2019
Course Coordinator and Team: Shelmi Sankhil
Email of course coordinator:
Pre-requisites: None
Aim: The course looks at some specific formulations and moments that are considered extremely significant in the development of modern hermeneutics as a formal discipline in Europe and its place within the evolving fields of the human sciences. This objective will be attempted through a reading of seminal texts by key figures of the discipline. The course also envisions a close evaluation of the reasons attributed by these thinkers for the inconsistent emphases given to author, text, context, reader, etc. at various points in the discipline’s journey for deriving meaning and understanding from a ―text‖, and the resultant influence these emphases had on literary criticism, translation theory and related fields of liberal arts.
Course Outcomes:Students are expected to be in a position to

  1. dentify key moments in the history of modern hermeneutics and their influence in literary theory and criticism.
  2. Explore in more depth the relationship between philosophy and the act of interpretation, etc.
  3. Be more self-aware about the process and practice of literary writing.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
Traditions in Hermeneutics: An Overview This module aims to provide a panoramic view of hermeneutical traditions in Europe starting from Greek antiquity till the nineteenth century. It takes a broad view of the influence of the different hermeneutical formulations for exegetical and interpretative practices of various texts. Texts: Anthony c. Thiselton. Hermeneutics: An Introduction. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.Co., 2009 Thomas M Seebohm. Hermeneutics, method and methodology. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004. 2. Module 2: Schleirmacher and Dilthey This module looks at seminal works of Schleiermacher and Dilthey in reshaping and expanding the discipline of hermeneutics outside of largely religious contexts, and what these shifts meant to the general fields of the human sciences in their epistemological and methodological orientations vis-a-vis ―texts‖. Of particular interest to this module is the dialectic of the grammatical and the psychological in Schleiermacher’s hermeneutics and his view on translation, and the centrality of historicism in Dilthey’s hermeneutics. Texts: Friedrich D. E. Schleiermacher,Jan Wojcik and Roland Haas. "The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures,"New Literary History, Vol. 10, No. 1, Literary Hermeneutics (Autumn, 1978) pp.1-16. ——————-. ―On the Different Methods of Translating"FromThe TranslationStudies Reader, ed. Lawrence Venuti, 2nd ed., pp. 43–63. Trans. S. Bernofsky. New York/London: Routledge, 2007 Wilhem Dilthey. ―The Rise of Hermeneutics‖. Tr. Frederic Jameson. New Literary History, Vol.3, No.2, On Interpretation:1 (Winter, 1972) pp.229-244 ——————-. ―The Understanding of Other Persons and Their Manifestations of Life‖ . From Wilhem Dilthey, Selected Works, Volume III: The Formation of the Historical World in
the Human Sciences. Tr. Rudolf A Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi. Princeton University Press, 2010.
Additional References Friedrich Schleiermacher. Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Writings. Tr. Andrew Bowie. Cambridge University Press, 1998 M. Ermarth.Wilhelm Dilthey: The Critique of Historical Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978 Rudolf A. Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi (ed) Wilhelm Dilthey: Selected Works, Volume IV:Hermeneutics and the Study of History. Princeton University Press, 1996. 3.

Module 3: Husserl and Heidegger This module will look at the role of phenomenology in furnishing the epistemic ground of the ―ontological shift‖ of philosophical hermeneutics and what this meant to existing structures of understanding and interpretation of human experience in literary studies and related disciplines. In particular, the module will engage with Husserl’s theory of consciousness, his critique of psychologism, and the distinction between meaning and object. With regard to Heidegger’s works, while his philosophy of Being is a necessary background, the focus in this module will be his view on the connection between aesthetic (poetry) and Being. Texts: Edmund Husserl. Part III, Chapter 3 of Experience and Judgment: Investigations in a Genealogy of Logic.Tr. James Spencer Churchill and Karl Ameriks. Northwestern University Press, 1975 Martin Heidegger. Part I, Chapter 4 ofOntology: The Hermeneutics of Facticity,Tr. John Van Buren. Indiana University Press, 2008. ——————. ―The Origin of The Work of Art‖ from Poetry, Language, Thought. Tr. Albert Hofstadter. New York: Harper and Row, 1971.

Additional References: Dan Zahavi.Husserl's Phenomenology, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003 Jacques Derrida. Speech and Phenomena And Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1989. Mark A Wrathhall. The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger’s “Being and Time”. CUP, 2013
Martin Heidegger. On the Way to Language. Tr. Peter D. Hertz.New York: Harper and Row, 1971. 4. Module 4: Gadamer and Ricoeur This module looks at Gadamer’s elaboration of philosophical hermeneutics and his views on meaning and the ontological nature of understanding itself. The module will closely read the roles of language and history in Gadamer’s conception of the ―fusion of horizons‖ for meaningful understanding/interpretation of ―texts‖, and what this meant for literary theory and criticism. The module also broadly looks at the influence of Ricouer’s combination of phenomenological description with hermeneutic interpretation on textual discourse. Of special relevance to Comparative Literature is Ricoeur’s conception of hermeneutics as ―self-understanding by means of understanding others,‖ which will be closely looked at in this module. Texts: Hans-Georg Gadamer. Part 1, Chapters 3 and 7 of Philosophical Hermeneutics.Tr. and ed. by David E. Linge. University of California Press, 2008. Paul Ricoeur. Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning. Fort Worth: Texas Christian Press, 1976. Additional References: AndrzejWiercinski,(ed).Between Suspicion and Sympathy: Paul Ricoeur’s Unstable Equilibrium. Toronto: Hermeneutic Press, 2003. Joel Weinsheimer. Philosophical Hermeneutics and Literary Theory. Yale University Press, 1991. Robert J. Dostal(ed). The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer. New York: Cambridge, 2002. 5. Module 5: After Ricoeur This module will look at hermeneutics after Ricoeur by engaging with current strands and debates in hermeneutics, and its relevance in education, theology and the liberal arts. Texts: Selections from Anthony C. Thiselton. Hermeneutics: An Introduction Grand Rapids,
Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.Co., 2009 Selections from Boyd Blundell. Paul Ricoeur between Theology and Philosophy: Detour and Return. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010 Selections from John Arthos. Hermeneutics after Ricoeur. Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.
Assessment Details with weights: Class presentation: 30% (20 minutes. Presenter will be required to submit the presented paper a week after in 2000 words, excluding bibliography) Weekly submissions: 30% (A one-page written response on the reading(s) for the week)

Term paper: 40% (4000 words, excluding bibliography)