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The American Way of Peace
An Interpretation
Jan S. Prybyla
University of Missouri Press, 2005
In The American Way of Peace, Jan S. Prybyla traces the implementation of an idea derived from bedrock American values that has shaped the American character from the nation’s beginning. The idea—simple, generous, optimistic, and effective—was and remains to give people realizable hope, an attainable dream, by creating a peaceful, secure, and materially comfortable world, a Pax Americana, the American Way of Peace.
In the period surveyed, beginning with the end of World War II, this objective was achieved through American initiative and with American leadership, despite resistance from Nazi barbarism, Soviet serfdom, and, more recently, Islamic extremist inhumanity. There has also been opposition from some of those in the western confines of Europe whom Pax Americana helped raise from the ashes to which they had been reduced.
The American Way of Peace examines the work of reconstruction, the enemy bombardment, as well as the hurtful sniping along the way by the beneficiaries of American support. Prybyla recommends a reevaluation of American relations with those to whom friendship is but a utilitarian device, in light of the present eruption of terrorism worldwide. The need for America to act wisely and resolutely in defense of civilized values, to stem the third tidal wave of terrorist savagery, and to venture where others fear to tread is more compelling now than it has been in the six decades past, for today America’s very survival as a force for immense good in the world is being put to the test.

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Analogical Thinking
Post-Enlightenment Understanding in Language, Collaboration, and Interpretation
Ronald Schleifer
University of Michigan Press, 2001
Analogical Thinking argues that sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, a new mode of comprehension arose, supplementing received Enlightenment ideas concerning the nature of understanding and explanation. Focusing on the innovations of structural linguistics and its poststructural legacy, the individualism of Enlightenment knowledge and the collaborations of post-Enlightenment information, and practices of reading and interpretation across the arts and sciences, Analogical Thinking examines the ways in which analogical presentations of similarities respond to the experiences of twentieth-century culture.
The book traces this mode of thinking in linguistics, collaborative intellectual work in the arts and sciences, and interpretations of literary and sacred texts, concluding with a reading of the concept of Enlightenment in a comparison of Descartes and Foucault. The book examines the poststructuralism of Derrida; the collaborations of information theory and modern science as opposed to the individualism of Adam Smith and others, and analogical interpretations of Yeats, Dinesen, the Bible, Dreiser, and Mailer. Its overall aim is to present an interdisciplinary examination of a particular kind of understanding that responds to the experiences of our time.
Ronald Schleifer is Professor of English, University of Oklahoma. His books include Rhetoric and Death: The Language of Modernism and Postmodern Discourse Theory, Criticism and Culture; and Culture and Cognition: The Boundaries of Literary and Scientific Inquiry.

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Archaeological Variability and Interpretation in Global Perspective
Alan P. Sullivan
University Press of Colorado, 2016
In Archaeological Variability and Interpretation in Global Perspective, contributors illustrate the virtues of various ecological, experimental, statistical, typological, technological, and cognitive/social approaches for understanding the origins, formation histories, and inferential potential of a wide range of archaeological phenomena. As archaeologists worldwide create theoretically inspired and methodologically robust narratives of the cultural past, their research pivots on the principle that determining the origins and histories of archaeological phenomena is essential in understanding their relevance for a variety of anthropological problems.

The chapters explore how the analysis of artifact, assemblage, and site distributions at different spatial and temporal scales provides new insights into how mobility strategies affect lithic assemblage composition, what causes unstable interaction patterns in complex societies, and which factors promote a sense of “place” in landscapes of abandoned structures. In addition, several chapters illustrate how new theoretical approaches and innovative methods promote reinterpretations of the regional significance of historically important archaeological sites such as Myrtos-Pyrgos (Crete, Greece), Aztalan (Wisconsin, USA), Tabun Cave (Israel), and Casas Grandes (Chihuahua, Mexico).

The studies presented in Archaeological Variability and Interpretation in Global Perspective challenge orthodoxy, raise research-worthy controversies, and develop strong inferences about the diverse evolutionary pathways of humankind using theoretical perspectives that consider both new information and preexisting archaeological data.

Contributors: C. Michael Barton, Brian F. Byrd, Gerald Cadogan, Philip G. Chase, Harold L. Dibble, Matthew J. Douglass, Patricia C. Fanning, Lynne Goldstein, Simon J. Holdaway, Kathryn A. Kamp, Sam Lin, Emilia Oddo, Zeljko Rezek, Julien Riel-Salvatore, Gary O. Rollefson, Jeffrey Rosenthal, Barbara J. Roth, Sissel Schroeder, Justin I. Shiner, John C. Whittaker, David R. Wilcox

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Art and the Market
Roger Fry on Commerce in Art, Selected Writings, Edited with an Interpretation
Craufurd D. Goodwin
University of Michigan Press, 1998
Roger Fry, a core member of the Bloomsbury Group, was involved with all aspects of the art market as artist, critic, curator, historian, journalist, advisor to collectors, and gallery operator. He is especially remembered as the person who introduced postimpressionist art to Britain.
Reprinted in this volume are seventeen of Fry's works on commerce in art. Although he had no formal training in economics, Fry addressed the art market as a modern economist might do. It is therefore fitting that his writings receive here an original interpretation from the perspective of a modern economist, Craufurd D. Goodwin. Goodwin explores why Fry's work is both a landmark in the history of cross-disciplinary thought and a source of fresh insights into a wide range of current policy questions.
The new writings included contain Fry's most important contributions to theory, history, and debates over policy as he explored the determinants of the supply of art, the demand for art, and the art market institutions that facilitate exchange. His ideas and speculations are as stimulating and provocative today as when they were written.
"A fascinating selection of essays by one of the twentieth century's most thoughtful and stimulating critics. Goodwin's introduction sets the stage beautifully, providing useful links to Veblen and Keynes." --D. E. Moggridge, University of Toronto
"Art and the Market uncovers new connections between aesthetics and art in the Bloomsbury Group. . . . Goodwin adds significantly to the understanding of cultural economics in the work of Fry himself as well as J. M. Keynes and even Leonard and Virginia Woolf." --S. P. Rosenbaum, University of Toronto
"All those interested in the arts and economics, and their connections, will be delighted by this collection, as will be students of Bloomsbury." --Peter Stansky, Stanford University
Craufurd D. Goodwin is James B. Duke Professor of Economics, Duke University.

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The Articles of Confederation
An Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American Revolution, 1774-1781
Merrill Jensen
University of Wisconsin Press, 1959
"Here is a book which deals with clashes between economic and political factors in the American Revolution as realistically as if its author were dealing with a presidential election."—Social Studies

"An admirable analysis.  It presents, in succinct form, the results of a generation of study of this chapter of our history and summarizes fairly the conclusions of that study."—Henry Steele Commager, New York Times Book Review

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Attitudes, Innuendo, and Regulators
Challenges of Interpretation
Melanie Metzger
Gallaudet University Press, 2005

The second volume in the Studies in Interpretation series delves further into the intricacies of sign language interpreting in five distinctive chapters. In the first chapter, Lawrence Forestal investigates the shifting attitudes of Deaf leaders toward sign language interpreters. Forestal notes how older leaders think of interpreters as their friends in exchanges, whereas Deaf individuals who attended mainstream schools possessed different feelings about interpreting.

     Frank J. Harrington observes in his chapter on British Sign Language-English interpreters in higher education observes that they cannot be viewed in isolation since all participants and the environment have a real impact on the way events unfold. In Chapter Three, Maree Madden explores the prevalence of chronic occupational physical injury among Australian Sign Language interpreters due to the stress created by constant demand and the lack of recognition of their professional rights.

     Susan M. Mather assesses and identifies regulators used by teachers and interpreters in mainstreaming classrooms. Her study supports other findings of the success of ethnographic methods in providing insights into human interaction and intercultural communication within the mainstreaming setting. The fifth chapter views how interpreters convey innuendo, a complicated undertaking at best. Author Shaun Tray conducts a thorough examination of innuendo in American Sign Language, then points the way toward future research based upon ethnography, gender, and other key factors.


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Augustine the Reader
Meditation, Self-Knowledge, and the Ethics of Interpretation
Brian Stock
Harvard University Press, 1996

Augustine of Hippo, a central figure in the history of Western thought, is also the author of a theory of reading that has had a profound influence on Western letters from the ages of Petrarch, Montaigne, Luther, and Rousseau to those of Freud and our own time. Brian Stock provides the first full account of this theory within the evolution of Augustine’s early dialogues, his Confessions, and his systematic treatises.

Augustine was convinced that words and images play a mediating role in our perceptions of reality. In the union of philosophy, psychology, and literary insights that forms the basis of his theory of reading, the reader emerges as the dominant model of the reflective self. Meditative reading, indeed the meditative act that constitutes reading itself, becomes the portal to inner being. At the same time, Augustine argues that the self-knowledge reading brings is, of necessity, limited, since it is faith rather than interpretive reason that can translate reading into forms of understanding.

In making his theory of reading a central concern, Augustine rethinks ancient doctrines about images, memory, emotion, and cognition. In judging what readers gain and do not gain from the sensory and mental understanding of texts, he takes up questions that have reappeared in contemporary thinking. He prefigures, and in a way he teaches us to recognize, our own preoccupations with the phenomenology of reading, the hermeneutics of tradition, and the ethics of interpretation.


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Censorship and Interpretation
Annabel M. Patterson
University of Wisconsin Press, 1991

Annabel Patterson explores the effects of censorship on both writing and reading in early modern England, drawing analogies and connections with France during the same period.


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Communicating the Word
Revelation, Translation, and Interpretation in Christianity and Islam
David Marshall, Editor. Afterword by Archbishop Rowan Williams
Georgetown University Press, 2015

Communicating the Word is a record of the 2008 Building Bridges seminar, an annual dialogue between leading Christian and Muslim scholars convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Featuring the insights of internationally known Christian and Muslim scholars, the essays collected here focus attention on key scriptural texts but also engage with both classical and contemporary Islamic and Christian thought. Issues addressed include, among others, the different ways in which Christians and Muslims think of their scriptures as the “Word of God,” the possibilities and challenges of translating scripture, and the methods—and conflicts—involved in interpreting scripture in the past and today.

In his concluding reflections, Archbishop Rowan Williams draws attention to a fundamental point emerging from these fascinating contributions: “Islam and Christianity alike give a high valuation to the conviction that God speaks to us. Grasping what that does and does not mean . . . is challenging theological work.”


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Contradictory Characters
An Interpretation of the Modern Theatre
Albert Bermel
Northwestern University Press, 1996
Winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism

Playwright and critic Albert Bermel examines thirteen modern plays to assess the underpinnings of dramatic conflict. Contradictory Characters inspects the three well-known types of dramatic conflict-between characters, between character and environment, and within the protagonist himself-and argues that the "character-against-himself" is not only a type of conflict, but is indeed the prototypical conflict underlying the others.

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Culture Troubles
Politics and the Interpretation of Meaning
Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz
University of Chicago Press, 2005
Understanding politics in nations other than your own is a perilous exercise. If you were to read two newspaper articles on the same topic but from different countries, you would likely find two very different interpretations of the same event. But how we think about what is written in our own country seems somehow less distorted, less wrong. So which side is right? And from what reference point can we begin to compare the two?

Culture Troubles is a systematic reevaluation of the role of culture in political analysis. Here, Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz contend that it is unwise to compare different societies without taking into account culture, which in their interpretation is not a system of values, but rather a system of inherited meanings and symbols. This cultural approach, they argue, can attribute meaning to political comparison, and they outline the shape of that approach, one that draws from an eclectic range of sources. Illustrating the sharpness and acuity of their methods, they proceed with a comparative study of the state and political representation in three very different nations—France, Nigeria, and Sweden—to untangle the many ways that culture informs our understanding of political events. As a result, Culture Troubles offers a rational starting point from which we may begin to understand foreign politics.

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Democracy, Militarism, and Nationalism in Argentina, 1930–1966
An Interpretation
By Marvin Goldwert
University of Texas Press, 1972

Until 1930, Argentina was one of the great hopes for stable democracy in Latin America. Argentines themselves believed in the destiny of their nation to become the leading Latin American country in wealth, power, and culture. But the revolution of 1930 unleashed the scourges of modern militarism and chronic instability in the land. Between 1930 and 1966, the Argentine armed forces, or factions of the armed forces, overthrew the government five times.

For several decades, militarism was the central problem in Argentine political life. In this study, Marvin Goldwert interprets the rise, growth, and development of militarism in Argentina from 1930 to 1966. The tortuous course of Argentine militarism is explained through an integrating hypothesis. The army is viewed as a “power factor,” torn by a permanent dichotomy of values, which rendered it incapable of bringing modernization to Argentina. Caught between conflicting drives for social order and modernization, the army was an ambivalent force for change. First frustrated by incompetent politicians (1916–1943), the army was later driven by Colonel Juan D. Perón into an uneasy alliance with labor (1943–1955). Peronism initially represented the means by which army officers could have their cake—nationalistic modernization—and still eat it in peace, with the masses organized in captive unions tied to an authoritarian state.

After 1955, when Perón was overthrown, a deeply divided army struggled to contain the remnants of its own dictatorial creation. In 1966, the army, dedicated to staunch anti-Peronism, again seized the state and revived the dream of reconciling social order and modernization through military rule.

Although militarism has been a central problem in Argentine political life, it is also the fever that suggests deeper maladies in the body politic. Marvin Goldwert seeks to relate developments in the military to the larger political, social, and economic developments in Argentine history. The army and its factions are viewed as integral parts of the whole political spectrum during the period under study.


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The Democratic Constitution
Experimentalism and Interpretation
Brian E. Butler
University of Chicago Press, 2017
The Supreme Court is seen today as the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution. Once the Court has spoken, it is the duty of the citizens and their elected officials to abide by its decisions. But the conception of the Supreme Court as the final interpreter of constitutional law took hold only relatively recently. Drawing on the pragmatic ideals characterized by Charles Sanders Peirce, John Dewey, Charles Sabel, and Richard Posner. Brian E. Butler shows how this conception is inherently problematic for a healthy democracy.
Butler offers an alternative democratic conception of constitutional law, “democratic experimentalism,” and applies it in a thorough reconstruction of Supreme Court cases across the centuries, such as Brown v. Board of Education, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, and Lochner v. New York. In contrast to the traditional tools and conceptions of legal analysis that see the law as a formally unique and separate type of practice, democratic experimentalism combines democratic aims and experimental practice. Butler also suggests other directions jurisprudential roles could take: for example, adjudication could be performed by primary stakeholders with better information. Ultimately, Butler argues persuasively for a move away from the current absolute centrality of courts toward a system of justice that emphasizes local rule and democratic choice. 

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Dreaming Across Boundaries
The Interpretation of Dreams in Islamic Lands
L. Marlow
Harvard University Press, 2008

Descriptions of dreams abound in the literatures of the Near East and North Africa. The Prophet Muhammad endowed them with a theological dimension, saying that after him “true dreams” would be the only channel for prophecy. Dreams were often used to support conflicting theological and political arguments, and the local chronicles contain many accounts of royal dreams justifying the advent of new dynasties.

This volume explores the context of these theological speculations and political aspirations through the medium of dreams to present fascinating insights into the social history of the pre-modern Islamic world in all its cultural diversity. Wider cultural exchanges are discussed through concrete examples such as the Arabic version of the Aristotelian treatise De divinatione per somnum. Some of the current scholarly assumptions about dreams being merely stylized expressions of social conventions are challenged by personal reports that express individual personalities, self-awareness, and spiritual development.

This is the first volume of the Ilex Series on Themes and Traditions. The series explores cross-cultural constructs without losing sight of the rich texture of local variations of traditions or beliefs.


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The Dreams of Interpretation
A Century down the Royal Road
Catherine Liu
University of Minnesota Press, 2007

Rethinking the importance of Sigmund Freud’s landmark book The Interpretation of Dreams a century after its publication in 1900, this work brings together psychoanalysts, philosophers, cultural theorists, film and visual theorists, and literary critics from several continents in a compilation of the best clinical and theoretical work being done in psychoanalysis today. It is unique in convening both theory and practice in productive dialogue, reflecting on the encounter between psychoanalysis and the tradition of hermeneutics. Collectively the essays argue that Freud’s legacy has shaped the way we think about not only psychology and the nature of the self but also our understanding of politics, culture, and even thought itself.

Contributors: Willy Apollon, Gifric; Karyn Ball, U of Alberta, Edmonton; Raymond Bellour, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; Patricia Gherovici, Philadelphia Lacan Study Group and Seminar; Judith Feher-Gurewich, New York U; Jonathan Kahana, New York U; A. Kiarina Kordela, Macalester College; Pablo Kovalovsky, Clinica de Borde; Jean Laplanche, U of Lausanne; Laura Marcus, U of Sussex; Andrew McNamara, Queensland U of Technology; Claire Nahon; Yun Peng, U of Minnesota; Gerard Pommier, Nantes U; Jean-Michel Rabaté, Princeton U; Laurence A. Rickels, U of California, Santa Barbara; Avital Ronell, New York U; Elke Siegel, Yale U; Rei Terada, U of California, Irvine; Klaus Theweleit, U of Freiburg-im-Breisgau; Paul Verhaege, U of Ghent, Belgium; Silke-Maria Weineck, U of Michigan.

Catherine Liu is associate professor of comparative literature and film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine. John Mowitt is professor and chair of cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. Thomas Pepper is associate professor of cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. Jakki Spicer received her Ph.D. in cultural studies and comparative literature from the University of Minnesota.


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Essentials of MMPI-2 and MMPI-A Interpretation
James N. Butcher
University of Minnesota Press, 2000

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Finland in the Twentieth Century
A History and an Interpretation
D.G. Kirby
University of Minnesota Press, 1980

Finland in the Twentieth Century was first published in 1980. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Finland's search for a national identity is the underlying theme of this book. A small nation, geographically isolated and linguistically distinct from its neighbors, Finland has long maintained close ties with Sweden and also has had to come to terms with a powerful eastern neighbor, the Soviet Union. D.G. Kirby opens his history with a description of Finland at the turn of the century, when it was a Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire, and traces its emergence as an independent state with the collapse of the Empire in 1917. He examines the new republic's struggle for survival—and identity—after the civil war of 1918, which left a legacy of political instability through the interwar years.

Finland's complex political history is closely tied to its external relations. Kirby describes the evolution of Finnish foreign policy from the period when Finland and the Soviet Union were distrustful and then warring neighbors down to the present policy of friendship and cooperation which grew out of the treaty of 1948. The book closes with an account of Finland's international and domestic status in the Kekkonen era.

Throughout, Kirby provides a substantial socio-economic background to round out his political and diplomatic themes. He also brings to the English-language readers the results of modern Finish historical research. Since historians have played a key role in Finland as interpreters of the nation's recent past, his analysis of their debates helps clarify the ways in which Finland has developed as an independent state in the twentieth century.


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From the Tree to the Labyrinth
Historical Studies on the Sign and Interpretation
Umberto Eco
Harvard University Press, 2014

The way we create and organize knowledge is the theme of From the Tree to the Labyrinth, a major achievement by one of the world’s foremost thinkers on language and interpretation. Umberto Eco begins by arguing that our familiar system of classification by genus and species derives from the Neo-Platonist idea of a “tree of knowledge.” He then moves to the idea of the dictionary, which—like a tree whose trunk anchors a great hierarchy of branching categories—orders knowledge into a matrix of definitions. In Eco’s view, though, the dictionary is too rigid: it turns knowledge into a closed system. A more flexible organizational scheme is the encyclopedia, which—instead of resembling a tree with finite branches—offers a labyrinth of never-ending pathways. Presenting knowledge as a network of interlinked relationships, the encyclopedia sacrifices humankind’s dream of possessing absolute knowledge, but in compensation we gain the freedom to pursue an infinity of new connections and meanings.

Moving effortlessly from analyses of Aristotle and James Joyce to the philosophical difficulties of telling dogs from cats, Eco demonstrates time and again his inimitable ability to bridge ancient, medieval, and modern modes of thought. From the Tree to the Labyrinth is a brilliant illustration of Eco’s longstanding argument that problems of interpretation can be solved only in historical context.


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From Topic Boundaries to Omission
New Research on Interpretation
Melanie Metzger
Gallaudet University Press, 2003
This new collection examines several facets of signed language interpreting. Claudia Angelelli’s study confirms that conference, courtroom, and medical interpretation can no longer be seen as a two-party conversation with an “invisible” interpreter, but as a three-party conversation in which the interpreter plays an active role. Laura M. Sanheim defines different turn-taking elements in a medical setting as two overlapping conversations, one between the patient and the interpreter and the other between the interpreter and the medical professional.
     In her analysis of discourse at a Deaf revival service, Mary Ann Richey demonstrates how Deaf presenters and audiences interact even in formal settings, creating special challenges for interpreters. Jemina Napier shares her findings on the nature and occurrence of omissions by interpreters in Australian Sign Language and English exchanges. Elizabeth Winston and Christine Monikowski describe different strategies used by interpreters to indicate topic shifts when interpreting into American Sign Language and when transliterating. The study concludes with Bruce Sofinski’s analysis of nonmanual elements used by interpreters in sign language transliteration.

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Hermes’ Dilemma and Hamlet’s Desire
On the Epistemology of Interpretation
Vincent Crapanzano
Harvard University Press, 1992

A distinguished anthropologist and a creative force behind postmodern writing in his field, Vincent Crapanzano here focuses his considerable critical powers upon his own culture. In essays that question how the human sciences, particularly anthropology and psychoanalysis, articulate their fields of study, Crapanzano addresses nothing less than the enormous problem of defining the self in both its individual and collective projections.

Treating subjects as diverse as Roman carnivals and Balinese cockfights, circumcision, dreaming, and spirit possession in Morocco, transference in psychoanalysis, self-characterization in teenage girls’ gossip, Alice in Wonderland, and Jane Austen’s Emma, dialogue models in hermeneutics, and semantic vertigo in Hamlet’s Elsinore, these essays look critically at the inner workings of interpretation in human sciences and literary study. In modern Western culture’s attempts to interpret and communicate the nature of other cultures, Crapanzano finds a crippling crisis in representation. He shows how the quest for knowledge of “exotic” and “primitive” people is often confused with an unexamined need for self-definition, and he sets forth the resulting interpretive paradoxes, particularly the suppression of any awareness of the play of power and desire in such an approach. What is missing from contemporary theories of interpretation is, in Crapanzano’s account, a crucial understanding of the role context plays in any act of communication or its representation—in interpretation itself.


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The Hero and the City
An Interpretation of Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus
Joseph P. Wilson
University of Michigan Press, 2003
This work of seemingly conventional, philologically based criticism challenges many of the traditional views of Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus. Joseph P. Wilson disputes the received wisdom that Oedipus was a suppliant of the Athenians, arguing rather that the primary relationship that governed Oedipus's dealings with his hosts was xenia (hospitality), not hiketeia (supplication). Likewise, he considers in detail the disputed reading of empolin or empalin in verse 637 and the vexed question of whether Oedipus ever became a citizen of Athens. He concludes by investigating the matter of Oedipus' heroic and oracular capabilities and the role that Oedipus' own will plays in creating his heroic persona. Wilson's study offers a radical rereading of the Oedipus riddle and concludes with a substantial discussion of the play's (and playwright's) role in providing a political and moral education for the troubled Athenian polis in the last decade of the tumultuous fifth century.
Joseph P. Wilson is Professor of Foreign Languages at the University of Scranton.

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History and Theory after the Fall
An Essay on Interpretation
Fred Weinstein
University of Chicago Press, 1990
In this ambitious work, Fred Weinstein confronts the obstacles that have increasingly frustrated our attempts to explain social and historical reality. Traditionally, we have relied on history and social theory to describe the ways people understand the world they live in. But the ordering explanations we have always used—derived from the classical social theories originally forged by Marx, Tocqueville, Weber, Durkheim, Freud—have collapsed.

In the wake of this collapse or "fall," the rival claims of fiction, psychoanalysis, sociology, anthropology, and history have created the dilemma of radical relativism, the prospect of multiple interpretations of any complex historical event. The basic strategy of social theory and the social sciences—the search for underlying unities—proves so inherently contradictory and has provided so little in the way of reliable knowledge of social and historical relationships that to many critics it seems no longer worth pursuing.

Weinstein enters the debate by rejecting any search for underlying structural unities, dynamic or social, through which historians have attempted to find continuity with the past. He looks instead to ideological processes, to the construction of successive and changing versions of reality that mediate between the power of fantasy on the one side and the power of the social world on the other. He argues further that the need to use ideological constructs in this way accounts for the heterogeneous and changing content of social movements and for the persistent need people have always had for authoritative leaders, even in democratized societies. He suggests that people have historically been able to take a step away from leaders only by substituting the possession of objects such as property or money. This book is a breakthrough in poststructuralist theory that is sure to stimulate considerable discussion, especially about the shape of the social sciences and the future of historical interpretation.

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Imagination and Interpretation in Kant
The Hermeneutical Import of the Critique of Judgment
Rudolf A. Makkreel
University of Chicago Press, 1990
In this illuminating study of Kant's theory of imagination and its role in interpretation, Rudolf A. Makkreel argues against the commonly held notion that Kant's transcendental philosophy is incompatible with hermeneutics. The charge that Kant's foundational philosophy is inadequate to the task of interpretation can be rebutted, explains Makkreel, if we fully understand the role of imagination in his work. In identifying this role, Makkreel also reevaluates the relationship among Kant's discussions of the feeling of life, common sense, and the purposiveness of history.

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Inspiration and Interpretation
A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scripture
Denis Farkasfalvy
Catholic University of America Press, 2010
Inspiration and Interpretation provides readers with a much needed general theological introduction to the study of Sacred Scripture.

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Interpretation and Social Criticism
Michael Walzer
Harvard University Press, 1987

What do social critics do? I How do they go about doing it? Where do their principles come from? How do critics establish their distance from the people and institutions they criticize?

Michael Walzer addresses these problems in succinct and engaging fashion, providing a philosophical framework for understanding social criticism as a social practice. Walzer maintains that social criticism is an ordinary activity—less the offspring of scientific knowledge than the “educated cousin of common complaint”—and does not depend for its force or accuracy upon any sort of high theory. In his view, the social critic is not someone radically detached and disinterested, who looks at society as a total stranger and applies objective and universal principles. The true social critic must stand only a little to the side of his society—unlike Jean-Paul Sartre during the Algerian war, for example, who described himself as an enemy of his own people. And unlike Lenin, who judged Russian society against a standard worked out with reference to other places far away.

The “connected” critic is the model Walzer offers, one whose distance is measured in inches but who is highly critical nevertheless. John Locke is one example of the connected critic who argued for religious toleration not as a universal right ordained by reason but as a practical consequence of Protestant theology. The biblical prophets, such as Amos, were also men of their own day, with a particular quarrel to conduct with their fellows; the universalism of that quarrel is our own extrapolation. Walzer explains where critical principles come from, how much distance is “critical distance,” and what the historical practice of criticism has actually been like in the work of social philosophers such as Marx, Gramsci, Koestler, Lenin, Habermas, and Rawls.

Walzer posits a moral world already in existence, a historical product, that gives structure to our lives but whose ordinances are always uncertain and in need of scrutiny, argument, and commentary. The social critic need bring to his task only the ordinary tools of interpretation. Philosophers, political theorists, and all readers seriously interested in the possibility of a moral life will find sustenance and inspiration in this book.


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Interpretation and Social Knowledge
On the Use of Theory in the Human Sciences
Isaac Ariail Reed
University of Chicago Press, 2011
For the past fifty years anxiety over naturalism has driven debates in social theory. One side sees social science as another kind of natural science, while the other rejects the possibility of objective and explanatory knowledge. Interpretation and Social Knowledge suggests a different route, offering a way forward for an antinaturalist sociology that overcomes the opposition between interpretation and explanation and uses theory to build concrete, historically specific causal explanations of social phenomena.

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An Interpretation of Desire
Essays in the Study of Sexuality
John Gagnon
University of Chicago Press, 2003
An Interpretation of Desire offers a bracing collection of major essays by John Gagnon, one of the leading and most inspiring figures in sexual research. Spanning his work from the 1970s, when he explored the idea that sexuality is mediated through social processes and categories—thus paving the way for Foucault—and then extending through his turn to issues of desire during the 1990s, these essays constitute an essential entrée to the study of sexuality in the twentieth century.

Gagnon may be best known as the coauthor of Sexual Conduct—a book that introduced the seminal concept of sexual scripting—and as one of the coauthors of The Social Organization of Sexuality, a foundational work that is widely considered to be the most important study of human sexual behavior since the Kinsey report. The essays collected here first trace the influence of scripting theory on Gagnon, outlining the radical departure he took from the dominant biological and psychiatric models of sex research. The volume then turns to more recent essays that consider such vexed issues as homosexuality, the theories of Sigmund Freud, HIV, hazardous sex, and the social aspects of sexually transmitted diseases.

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The Interpretation of Dialogue
Edited by Tulio Maranhão
University of Chicago Press, 1990
This superb collection offers an array of rich variations on a theme central to a multitude of disciplines: the nature of dialogue. Drawing on literary, philosophical, and linguistic concepts, the essays range from broad questions of the representation of knowledge and interpretation of meaning to case studies of dialogue's function in specific fields.

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The Interpretation of Frege's Philosophy
Michael Dummett
Harvard University Press, 1981
The philosophy of Gottlob Frege is the starting point for the entire modern analytical movement; it profoundly influenced Russell, Wittgenstein, and Quine. Michael Dummett here expands upon his interpretation of Frege, and answers criticisms and objections that have been raised.

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The Interpretation of Narrative
Theory and Practice
Morton Bloomfield
Harvard University Press

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Ways of Thinking about the Sciences and the Arts
Peter Machamer
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010
The act of interpretation occurs in nearly every area of the arts and sciences. That ubiquity serves as the inspiration for the fourteen essays of this volume, covering many of the domains in which interpretive practices are found. Individual topics include: the general nature of interpretation and its forms; comparing and contrasting interpretation and hermeneutics; culture as interpretation seen through Hegel’s aesthetics; interpreting philosophical texts; methodologies for interpreting human action; interpretation in medical practice focusing on manifestations as indicators of disease; the brain and its interpretative, structured, learning and storage processes; interpreting hybrid wines and cognitive preconceptions of novel objects; and the importance of sensory perception as means of interpreting in the case of dry German Rieslings.

In an interesting turn, Nicholas Rescher writes on the interpretation of philosophical texts. Then Catherine Wilson and Andreas Blank explicate and critique Rescher’s theories through analysis of the mill passage from Leibniz’s Monadology.

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Justice in the U.S.S.R.
An Interpretation of Soviet Law, Revised Edition, Enlarged
Harold J. Berman
Harvard University Press

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Kafka's Ethics of Interpretation
Between Tyranny and Despair
Jennifer L. Geddes
Northwestern University Press, 2016
Kafka's Ethics of Interpretation refutes the oft-repeated claim, made by Kafka's greatest interpreters, including Walter Benjamin and Harold Bloom, that Kafka sought to evade interpretation of his writings. Jennifer L. Geddes shows that this claim about Kafka's deliberate uninterpretability is not only wrong, it also misconstrues a central concern of his work. Kafka was not trying to avoid or prevent interpretation; rather, his works are centrally concerned with it.

Geddes explores the interpretation that takes place within, and in response to, Kafka's writings, and pairs Kafka's works with readings of Sigmund Freud, Pierre Bourdieu, Tzvetan Todorov, Emmanuel Levinas, and others. She argues that Kafka explores interpretation as a mode of power and violence, but also as a mode of engagement with the world and others. Kafka, she argues, challenges us to rethink the ways we read texts, engage others, and navigate the world through our interpretations of them.

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La Patria del Criollo
An Interpretation of Colonial Guatemala
Severo Martínez Peláez
Duke University Press, 2009
This translation of Severo Martínez Peláez’s La Patria del Criollo, first published in Guatemala in 1970, makes a classic, controversial work of Latin American history available to English-language readers. Martínez Peláez was one of Guatemala’s foremost historians and a political activist committed to revolutionary social change. La Patria del Criollo is his scathing assessment of Guatemala’s colonial legacy. Martínez Peláez argues that Guatemala remains a colonial society because the conditions that arose centuries ago when imperial Spain held sway have endured. He maintains that economic circumstances that assure prosperity for a few and deprivation for the majority were altered neither by independence in 1821 nor by liberal reform following 1871. The few in question are an elite group of criollos, people of Spanish descent born in Guatemala; the majority are predominantly Maya Indians, whose impoverishment is shared by many mixed-race Guatemalans.

Martínez Peláez asserts that “the coffee dictatorships were the full and radical realization of criollo notions of the patria.” This patria, or homeland, was one that criollos had wrested from Spaniards in the name of independence and taken control of based on claims of liberal reform. He contends that since labor is needed to make land productive, the exploitation of labor, particularly Indian labor, was a necessary complement to criollo appropriation. His depiction of colonial reality is bleak, and his portrayal of Spanish and criollo behavior toward Indians unrelenting in its emphasis on cruelty and oppression. Martínez Peláez felt that the grim past he documented surfaces each day in an equally grim present, and that confronting the past is a necessary step in any effort to improve Guatemala’s woes. An extensive introduction situates La Patria del Criollo in historical context and relates it to contemporary issues and debates.


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Language and Interpretation in Psychoanalysis
Marshall Edelson
University of Chicago Press, 1984
Consider a poem as the literary critic reads it; consider the language of an analysand as the psychoanalyst hears it. The tasks of the professionals are similar: to interpret the linguistic, symbolic data at hand. In Language and Interpretation in Psychoanalysis, Marshall Edelson explores the linguistics of Chomsky, showing the congruence between Chomsky and Freud, and comparing linguistic interpretations in the psychoanalytic situation with interpretations of a Bach prelude and Wallace Stevens's poem "The Snow Man."

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Limits to Interpretation
The Meanings of Anna Karenina
Vladimir E. Alexandrov
University of Wisconsin Press, 2017
Vladimir E. Alexandrov advocates a broad revision of the academic study of literature, proposing an adaptive, text-specific approach designed to minimize the circularity of interpretation inherent in the act of reading. He illustrates this method with the example of Tolstoy's classic novel via a detailed "map" of the different possible readings that the novel can support. The novel Anna Karenina emerges as deeply conflicted, polyvalent, and quite unlike what one finds in other critical studies.

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LXX Isaiah 24
1-26:6 as Interpretation and Translation: A Methodological Discussion
Wilson de Angelo Cunha
SBL Press, 2014

Explore how interpretation affects translation

In this volume Cunha argues that the differences found between the Septuagint text of Isaiah and the Hebrew of the Masoretic Text must be weighed against the literary context in which they are found. The author demonstrates that LXX Isa 24:1–26:6 can be seen as a coherent ideological composition that differs greatly from the way scholars have interpreted MT Isa 24:1–26:6. This coherence comes across through the use of certain lexemes and conjunctions throughout the passage. The book lays the case that a scribe or translator already had an interpretation before he started the process of translation that shaped his translation of the Hebrew text into Greek.


  • An introduction sketching the history of research on LXX Isa 24:1–26:6
  • A focused comparision of the Masoretic Text to the Septuagint
  • A thorough discussion of the coherence of LXX Isa 24:1–26:6

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Making Meaning
Inference and Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema
David Bordwell
Harvard University Press, 1989

David Bordwell’s new book is at once a history of film criticism, an analysis of how critics interpret film, and a proposal for an alternative program for film studies. It is an anatomy of film criticism meant to reset the agenda for film scholarship. As such Making Meaning should be a landmark book, a focus for debate from which future film study will evolve.

Bordwell systematically maps different strategies for interpreting films and making meaning, illustrating his points with a vast array of examples from Western film criticism. Following an introductory chapter that sets out the terms and scope of the argument, Bordwell goes on to show how critical institutions constrain and contain the very practices they promote, and how the interpretation of texts has become a central preoccupation of the humanities. He gives lucid accounts of the development of film criticism in France, Britain, and the United States since World War II; analyzes this development through two important types of criticism, thematic-explicatory and symptomatic; and shows that both types, usually seen as antithetical, in fact have much in common. These diverse and even warring schools of criticism share conventional, rhetorical, and problem-solving techniques—a point that has broad-ranging implications for the way critics practice their art. The book concludes with a survey of the alternatives to criticism based on interpretation and, finally, with the proposal that a historical poetics of cinema offers the most fruitful framework for film analysis.


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Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture
Edited by Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg
University of Illinois Press, 1988

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The Master of Signs
Signs and the Interpretation of Signs in Herodotus’ Histories
Alexander Hollmann
Harvard University Press, 2011

Readers of Herodotus’s Histories are familiar with its reports of bizarre portents, riddling oracles, and striking dreams. But Herodotus draws our attention to other types of signs too, beginning with human speech itself as a coded system that can manipulate and be manipulated. Objects, gifts, artifacts, markings, even the human body, are all capable of being invested with meaning in the Histories and Herodotus shows that conventionally and culturally determined actions, gestures, and ritual all need decoding.

This book represents an unprecedented examination of signs and their interpreters, as well as the terminology Herodotus uses to describe sign transmission, reception, and decoding. Through his control and involvement in this process he emerges as a veritable “master of signs.”


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Metropolis 1985
An Interpretation of the Findings of the New York Metropolitan Region Study
Raymond Vernon
Harvard University Press

This is the key volume in the New York Metropolitan Region Study. It is a synthesis and interpretation of the seven specialized books that have already been published and the one that is still awaiting publication. Here, at last, with a depth of perspective made possible by the author's familiarity with the unpublished as well as the published findings of the other participants in the Study, is the whole picture--New York's busy and varied economy as it is now, as it has been, and as it is likely to be twenty-five years from now.

Beginning with the visible present, Mr. Vernon with swift strokes lays bare the essentials of the economic history of the New York Region. He shows how its industries grew out of one another, the part played by labor, the early crucial role of the port, and the later crucial role of "clustering" that enables firms to share common facilities. He discusses the Region's advantages and disadvantages for different kinds of business and industry, the interrelation between the jobs in the Region and the people who live in it. He traces the movement of jobs geographically in and out of the Region as a whole, and also outward within the Region, relating this outward movement to such developments as the thinning-out of population in mid-city tenements and the continuing boom in suburban split-levels. He analyzes the problems besetting the multitude of local governments in the Region, and the crisis of commuting and rapid transit services. Finally he projects the metropolis of 1985, picturing it as all the infinitely complex forces of its history to date indicate that it will be, if these forces are not altered in their future operation by governmental actions of unprecedented magnitude.

In this book there is clearly presented the information that can enable the metropolitan dwellers themselves to communicate more effectively with the experts whose business is objective evaluation of urban problems. Once that communication is established, Mr. Vernon says, "We shall have moved a giant step closer to the objective of a more tolerable metropolitan environment."


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Montesquieu and the Despotic Ideas of Europe
An Interpretation of "The Spirit of the Laws"
Vickie B. Sullivan
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Montesquieu is rightly famous as a tireless critic of despotism, which he associates in his writings overtly with Asia and the Middle East and not with the apparently more moderate Western models of governance found throughout Europe. However, a careful reading of Montesquieu reveals that he recognizes a susceptibility to despotic practices in the West—and that the threat emanates not from the East, but from certain despotic ideas that inform such Western institutions as the French monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church.
Nowhere is Montesquieu’s critique of the despotic ideas of Europe more powerful than in his enormously influential The Spirit of the Laws, and Vickie B. Sullivan guides readers through Montesquieu’s sometimes veiled, yet sharply critical accounts of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Aristotle, and Plato, as well as various Christian thinkers. He finds deleterious consequences, for example, in brutal Machiavellianism, in Hobbes’s justifications for the rule of one, in Plato’s reasoning that denied slaves the right of natural defense, and in the Christian teachings that equated heresy with treason and informed the Inquisition.

In this new reading of Montesquieu’s masterwork, Sullivan corrects the misconception that it offers simple, objective observations, showing it instead to be a powerful critique of European politics that would become remarkably and regrettably prescient after Montesquieu’s death when despotism wound its way through Europe.

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Native American Oral Traditions
Collaboration and Interpretation
Larry Evers
Utah State University Press, 2001

This collection provides a benchmark that helps secure the position of collaboration between Native American and non-Native American scholars in the forefront of study of Native oral traditions. Seven sets of intercultural authors present Native American oral texts with commentary, exploring dimensions of perspective, discovery, and meaning that emerge through collaborative translation and interpretation. The texts studied all come from the American West but include a rich variety of material, since their tribal sources range from the Yupik in the Arctic to the Yaqui in the Sonoran Desert.

This presentation of jointly authored work is timely: it addresses increasing interest in, calls for, and movement toward reflexivity in the relationships between scholars and the Native communities they study, and it responds to the renewed commitment in those communities to asserting more control over representations of their traditions. Although Native and academic communities have long tried to work together in the study of culture and literature, the relationship has been awkward and imbalanced toward the academics. In many cases, the contributions of Native assistants, informants, translators, and field workers to the work of professional ethnographers has been inadequately credited, ignored, or only recently uncovered. Native Americans usually have not participated in planning and writing such projects. Native American Oral Traditions provides models for overcoming such obstacles to interpreting and understanding Native oral literature in relation to the communities and cultures from which it comes.


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No Equal In The World
An Interpretation Of The Academic Presidency
Joseph N. Crowley
University of Nevada Press, 1994
No Equal in the World is a comprehensive study of the literature on the American academic presidency from the middle of the nineteenth century—when the first universities, as distinct from colleges, began to emerge—to the present. The book surveys widely divergent literature on the biographies of major presidents at crucial moments in the history of their institutions. The book affords an overview of the development of both the role of the university president and the public’s perception of that role, and indicates where perception and reality diverge. At a time when university presidents must find their way through a minefield of increasingly heated debates over issues such as free speech, curriculum, faculty diversity, and the specter of “political correctness,” Crowley’s book provides a sense of history to those striving to understand the demands of the position. It is an invaluable resource for scholars.

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On Interpretation
Sociology for Interpreters of Natural and Cultural
Gary E. Machlis
Oregon State University Press, 1992

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Passionate Doubts
Designs of Interpretation in Contemporary American Fiction
Patrick O'Donnell
University of Iowa Press, 1986
This absorbing new study discusses theories of interpretation and construction of the self in six important contemporary novels. In semiotic analyses of John Barth's LETTERS, Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, John Hawkes' Travesty, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, Stanley Elkin's The Franchiser, and Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood, Patrick O'Donnell argues that contemporary fiction takes interpretation as its subject and as the very impetus for its making.

In an introductory dialogue and a closing chapter on the reader in contemporary fiction, O'Donnell shows that the formation of the reader's self, like character, plot, or any other element in fiction, is also part of the experience of the text, requiring a distinctive conception of interpretation. Calling upon a wide assemblage of modern theorists including Foucault, Derrida, Serres, Binswanger, Geertz, and Gadamer, O'Donnell elicits a broad range of interpretive possibilities—philosophical, psychological, archaeological, and linguistic—which speak to each novel's central concern with the act of reading as a form of signification.

While Passionate Doubts is broadly a hermeneutic study of contemporary fiction, the heart of this intriguing work resides in the close scrutiny of six modern novels which so richly evoke the very elements from which theories derive: language, form, and impulse. It is this specific application of theory that sets Passionate Doubts apart from other works in the field, yielding a series of important insights on the subject of language, sign, and the self in modern literature.

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Plato’s Symposium
Issues in Interpretation and Reception
James H. Lesher
Harvard University Press, 2006
In his Symposium, Plato crafted a set of speeches in praise of love that has influenced writers and artists from antiquity to the present. Early Christian writers read the dialogue's 'ascent passage' as a vision of the soul's journey to heaven. Ficino's commentary on the Symposium inspired poets and artists throughout Renaissance Europe and introduced 'a Platonic love' into common speech. Themes or images from the dialogue have appeared in paintings or sketches by Rubens, David, Feuerbach, and La Farge, as well as in musical compositions by Satie and Bernstein. The dialogue's view of love as 'desire for eternal possession of the good' is still of enormous philosophical interest in its own right. Nevertheless, questions remain concerning the meaning of specific features, the significance of the dialogue as a whole, and the character of its influence. This volume brings together an international team of scholars to address such questions.

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Prehistoric Lifeways in the Great Basin Wetlands
Bioarchaelogical Reconstruction and Interpretation
Brian Hemphill
University of Utah Press, 1999

Prehistoric Lifeways of the Great Basin Wetlands examines how the earliest inhabitants of the Great basin in Nevada, Utah, and Oregon made use of ancient marshes and lakes.

When the Great Salt Lake receded in the 1980s from its highest historically recorded levels, it exposed a large number of archaeological and burial sites. Other wetland areas in the region experienced similar flooding and site exposure. The resulting archaeological bonanza resolved long-standing controversy over the role of wetlands in prehistoric Great Basin human subsistence. Previously, archaeologists argued two disparate views: either wetlands offered a wealth of resources and served as a magnet for human occupation and rather sedentary lifestyles, or wetlands provided only meager fare that was insufficient to promote increased sedentism. The exposure of human remains coincided with improved analytic techniques, enabling new conclusions about diet, behavior, and genetic affiliation.

This volume presents findings from three Great Basin wetland areas: Great Salt Lake, Stillwater Marsh (Nevada) and Malheur Lake (Oregon). The evidence presented here does not indicate the superiority of one interpretation over another but offers a more complex picture of variable adaptation, high mobility, and generally robust health among peoples living in a harsh setting with heavy physical demands. It is the first volume to draw together new approaches to the study of earlier human societies, including analysis of mtDNA for population reconstruction and cross-sectional geometric assessment of long bones for behavior interpretation.


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Principles Of Interpretation
Continental Thought Series, V5
Edward Goodwin Ballard
Ohio University Press, 1983

This is a major phenomenological work in which real learning works in graceful tandem with genuine and important insight. Yet this is not a work of scholarship; it is a work of philosophy, a work that succeeds both in the careful, descriptive massing of detail and in the power of its analysis of the conditions that underlie the possibility of such things as description, interpretation, perception, and meaning.

Principles of Interpretation formulates answers to these questions: How does the interpretative process proceed? What are its fundamentals? What assurance have we that our interpretations are in principal faithful to that which is to be interpreted? What conclusions are indicated concerning the past phases of our history and its present tendencies?


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Prodigal Son/Elder Brother
Interpretation and Alterity in Augustine, Petrarch, Kafka, Levinas
Jill Robbins
University of Chicago Press, 1991
"I don't know of any other book that deals with the hermeneutical problem of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism in the way this one does. Full of cunning and unpredictable turns, Prodigal Son/Elder Brother addresses the question of the elder brother's fate by opposing two sets of readings, Christian and Jewish, ancient and modern, figural and midrashic. No one, after reading this book, will any longer connect Judaism and Christianity with a hyphen."—Gerald L. Burns, University of Notre Dame

"Through a creative reading of the prodigal son parable, Jill Robbins demonstrates the hermeneutical impasse of the Christian exegete who must and yet cannot incorporate the Old Testament. Having disclosed the aporia at the heart of Christian hermeneutics, she proposes an alternative approach to the Hebrew Bible and new interpretations of Augustine, Petrarch, Kafka, and Levinas. Robbins brilliantly integrates the discourses of biblical texts, literary works, and critical analysis."—Mark C. Taylor, Williams College

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The Punishment of Pirates
Interpretation and Institutional Order in the Early Modern British Empire
Matthew Norton
University of Chicago Press, 2023
A sociological investigation into maritime state power told through an exploration of how the British Empire policed piracy.
Early in the seventeenth-century boom of seafaring, piracy allowed many enterprising and lawless men to make fortunes on the high seas, due in no small part to the lack of policing by the British crown. But as the British empire grew from being a collection of far-flung territories into a consolidated economic and political enterprise dependent on long-distance trade, pirates increasingly became a destabilizing threat. This development is traced by sociologist Matthew Norton in The Punishment of Pirates, taking the reader on an exciting journey through the shifting legal status of pirates in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Norton shows us that eliminating this threat required an institutional shift: first identifying and defining piracy, and then brutally policing it. The Punishment of Pirates develops a new framework for understanding the cultural mechanisms involved in dividing, classifying, and constructing institutional order by tracing the transformation of piracy from a situation of cultivated ambiguity to a criminal category with violently patrolled boundaries—ending with its eradication as a systemic threat to trade in the English Empire. Replete with gun battles, executions, jailbreaks, and courtroom dramas, Norton’s book offers insights for social theorists, political scientists, and historians alike.

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Reading "The Waste Land"
Modernism and the Limits of Interpretation
Jewel Spears Brooker
University of Massachusetts Press, 1992
This study of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land guides the reader through the poem line by line, taking into account a number of previous interpretations. Aims to offer a part-by-part analysis of the poem with periodic summations and a meditation on the limits of interpretation and the problematic nature of reading in the late 20th century.

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Readings in Interpretation
Holderlin, Hegel, Heidegger
Andrzej WarminskiIntroduction by Rodolphe Gasche
University of Minnesota Press, 1987

Readings in Interpretation was first published in 1987. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Readings in Interpretation — a volume primarily on the texts of Holderlin, Hegel, and their interpreter Heidegger—locates itself strategically between literature and philosophy. In keeping with this juxtaposition, it treats the question of self-consciousness and reflection on the levels of "theme" and "text." For both Hegel and Holderlin, selfconsciousness and its relation to knowing are explicit themes, but Waminski's readings show that a more disruptive reflection is operative on the level of text.

In an argument that centers on the textual aspects of Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit,Warminski demonstrates that the negative moment—which is often interpreted as a prelude to a unified self-consciousness—cannot be accounted for by interpretive models drawn from outside the text—by concepts like the self, consciousness, or the subject. Instead, a completely different practice and theory is necessary. The author's "Prefatory Postscript" at the beginning of the book therefore serves as an introduction to sketch the theoretical basis of the readings that follow and as a "postscript" that explains the difference between "reading" and "interpretation" which those readings make necessary.


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Renaissance Genres
Essays on Theory, History, and Interpretation
Barbara Kiefer Lewalski
Harvard University Press, 1986

Today genre studies are flourishing, and nowhere more vigorously perhaps than in the field of Renaissance literature, given the importance to Renaissance writers of questions of genre. These studies have been nourished, as Barbara Lewalski points out, by the varied insights of contemporary literary theory. More sophisticated conceptions of genre have led to a fuller appreciation of the complex and flexible Renaissance uses of literary forms.

The eighteen essays in this volume are striking in their diversity of stance and approach. Three are addressed to genre theory explicitly, and all reveal a concern with theoretical issues. The contributors are James S. Baumlin, Francis C. Blessington, Morton W. Bloomfield, Barbara J. Bono, Mary Thomas Crane, Heather Dubrow, Alastair Fowler, Marjorie Garber, Claudio Guillén, Ann E. Imbrie, John N. King, John Klause, Harry Levin, Earl Miner, Janel M. Mueller, Annabel Patterson, Robert N. Watson, and Steven N. Zwicker.


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Representing Modernist Texts
Editing as Interpretation
George Bornstein, Editor
University of Michigan Press, 1991
Representing Modernist Texts seeks to expose, and then to bridge, the gap between contemporary textual scholarship and the critical and theoretical study of modernist texts. Modernist critics and scholars have for too long consigned textual problems to work from earlier periods and largely ignored them in creating successive waves of avantgarde critical theory designed first to champion, and more recently to challenge, modernist literature itself. And yet, as the controversy around Hans Walter Gabler’s edition of Ulysses has made clear, twentieth-century texts are deeply problematic at the physical as well as the interpretive level.
In Representing Modernist Texts, thirteen internationally known scholars provide major explorations of the topic in the work of particular writers. The issues they raise include the construction of a writer’s canon and the effect of newly available “uncanonical” manuscript materials on existing works and orderings; the replacement of the older idea of a fixed, stable text by a more contemporary notion of the text as process; and the interrogation by advanced textual theory of many of the same notions of “author,” “intention,” and “stability of the text” questioned by advanced literary theory.

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The Rhetoric of Interpretation and the Interpretation of Rhetoric
Paul Hernadi, ed.
Duke University Press, 1989
The essays collected in this volume strongly suggest that the principles and operations of contemporary rhetoric and contemporary interpretation invite being studied in conjunction with each other—that the are, as Paul Hernadi puts it, "siamese twins." Furthermore, a number of the essays suggest that both rhetoric and interpretation ought to be studied in conjunction with the principles and operations characteristic of contemporary descriptions and critiques of ideology.

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Semeia 83/84
Slavery in Text and Interpretation
Allen Dwight Callahan
SBL Press, 2001
The classic essays in this volume address the usefulness of Orlando Patterson’s work on slavery to New Testament studies. Contributors approach the question of slavery from two directions. Part One examines the evidence for slavery in antiquity and attitudes toward it. Part Two considers specific receptions of Paul and slavery by persons of African descent in North America. Contributions to this essential collection pushed scholars toward a more complex, critical view of the Greek and Roman slave systems, and their work continues to influence New Testament studies today.

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Shakespeare and Interpretation, or What You Will
Brayton Polka
University of Delaware Press, 2011

Brayton Polka takes both a textual and theoretical approach to seven plays of Shakespeare: MacbethOthelloTwelfth NightAll’s Well That Ends WellJulius CaesarTroilus and Cressida, and Hamlet. He calls upon the Bible and the ideas of major European thinkers, above all, Kierkegaard and Spinoza, to argue that the concept of interpretation that underlies both Shakespeare’s plays and our own lives as moderns is the golden rule of the Bible: the command to love your neighbor as yourself. What you will (the alternative title of Twelfth Night ) thus captures the idea that interpretation is the very act by which we constitute our lives. For it is only in willing what others will—in loving relationships—that we enact a concept of interpretation that is adequate to our lives.

Polka argues that it is the aim of Shakespeare, when representing the ancient world in plays like Julius Caesar and Troilus and Cressida, and also in his long narrative poem “The Rape of Lucrece,” to dramatize the fundamental differences between ancient (pagan) values and modern (biblical) values or between what he articulates as contradiction and paradox. The ancients are fatally destroyed by the contradictions of their lives of which they remain ignorant. In contrast, we moderns in the biblical tradition, like those who figure in Shakespeare’s other works, are responsible for addressing and overcoming the contradictions of our lives through living the interpretive paradox of “what you will,” of treating all human beings as our neighbor. Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies, notwithstanding their dramatically different form, share this interpretive framework of paradox. As the author shows in his book, texts without interpretation are blind and interpretation without texts is empty.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.


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The Soviet Gulag
Evidence, Interpretation, and Comparison
Michael David-Fox
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent archival revolution, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s famous “literary investigation” The Gulag Archipelago was the most authoritative overview of the Stalinist system of camps. But modern research is developing a much more thorough and nuanced understanding of the Gulag.  There is a greater awareness of the wide variety of camps, many not isolated in far-off Siberia; prisoners often intermingled with local populations. The forced labor system was not completely distinct from the “free” labor of ordinary Soviet citizens, as convicts and non-prisoners often worked side-by-side. Nor was the Gulag unique when viewed in a global historical context.

Still, the scale and scope of the Soviet Gulag was unprecedented. Intrinsic to Stalinist modernization, the Gulag was tasked with the construction of massive public works, scientific and engineering projects, and such mundane work as road repairs. Along with the collectivization of agriculture, the Soviet economy (including its military exertions in World War II) was in large part dependent on compulsory labor. The camp system took on an outsized economic significance, and the vast numbers of people taken in by zealous secret police were meant to fulfill material, not just political, goals. While the Soviet system lacked the explicitly dedicated extermination camps of its Nazi counterpart, it did systematically extract work from inmates to the verge of death then cynically “released” them to reduce officially reported mortality rates.

In an original turn, the book offers a detailed consideration of the Gulag in the context of the similar camps and systems of internment. Chapters are devoted to the juxtaposition of nineteenth-century British concentration camps in Africa and India, the Tsarist-era system of exile in Siberia, Chinese and North Korean reeducation camps, the post-Soviet penal system in the Russian Federation, and of course the infamous camp system of Nazi Germany. This not only reveals the close relatives, antecedents, and descendants of the Soviet Gulag—it shines a light on a frighteningly widespread feature of late modernity.

Overall, The Soviet Gulag offers fascinating new interpretations of the interrelationship and importance of the Gulag to the larger Soviet political and economic system, and how they were in fact parts of the same entity.

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Spinoza’s Metaphysics
An Essay in Interpretation
E. M. Curley
Harvard University Press, 1969

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The Structure and Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
R.I.G. Hughes
Harvard University Press, 1989
R. I. G. Hughes offers the first detailed and accessible analysis of the Hilbert-space models used in quantum theory and explains why they are so successful. He goes on to show how the very suitability of Hilbert spaces for modeling the quantum world gives rise to deep problems of interpretation, and makes suggestions about how they can be overcome.

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Text and Culture
The Politics of Interpretation
Daniel Cottom
University of Minnesota Press, 1989

Text and Culture was first published in 1989. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

In Text & Culture, Daniel Cottom examines the political aspects of contemporary disciplines of interpretation. He pleads against limiting the act of reading by disqualifying some readings as "wrong" or unscholarly, and he argues for the necessity of multiple readings, claiming that a closed-off text glosses over differences that are political in nature. He proceeds, then, from the notion of text to culture. Just as the reading of the text is conditioned by irreducible political differences, so is the reading of culture. Finally, to illustrate and further develop his arguments, Cottom presents an extensive analysis of Great Expectations.

Cottom's materials range from academic jokes to King Lear, and the writers he discusses range from Kant to Derrida, from Freud to Basil Bernstein, from Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bronislaw Malinowski to Erving Goffman, Clifford Geertz, and Stanley Fish. This study is especially concerned with the way "culture" and related terms, such as "context" and "norm," are part of a larger discourse in the contemporary humanities and social sciences - a discourse in which their effect is to repress recognition of important historical differences, conflicts, and possibilities. At the same time that he shows how difficult it is to get "beyond culture," he tries to indicate how interpretation may be turned into a more socially responsible practice.

Daniel Cottom is associate professor of English at the University of Florida. He is the author of Social Figures: George Eliot, Social History, and Literary Representation (Minnesota, 1987) and The Civilized Imagination: A Study of Ann Radcliffe, Jane Austen, and Sir Walter Scott.


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Text and Interpretation
Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq and His Legacy in Islamic Law
Hossein Modarressi
Harvard University Press, 2022

Text and Interpretation: Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq and His Legacy in Islamic Law examines the main characteristics of the legal thought of Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq, a preeminent religious scholar jurist of Medina in the first half of the second century of the Muslim calendar (mid-eighth century CE). Numerous works in different languages have appeared over the past half century to introduce this school of Islamic law and its history, legal theory, and substance in contexts of Shīʿī law.

While previous literature has focused on the current status of the school in its developed and expanded form, this book presents an intellectual history of how the school began. The Jaʿfarī school emerged within the general legal discourse of late-Umayyad and early- Abbasid periods, but was known to differ in certain approaches from the other main legal schools of this time. Namely, the Jaʿfarī school expanded the tools for legal interpretation generally and contracts specifically, to a degree unmatched by any of its counterparts in the Muslim legal tradition. In addition to sketching the origins of the school, the book examines Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq’s interpretive approach through detailing his position on a number of specific questions, as well as the legal canons, presumptions, and other interpretive tools he adopted.


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Tragedy and Civilization
An Interpretation of Sophocles
Charles Segal
Harvard University Press, 1981

This major new interpretation makes use of a structuralist analysis of Greek culture to probe the meaning of Sophoclean tragedy. After developing a theoretical framework which encompasses much of early Greek literature and tragedy, Mr. Segal provides a close reading of the seven extant plays, with special attention to style, form, and character. The book yields new understanding of Sophocles' poetic and dramatic art and also achieves a coherent statement of Sophocles' view of the human condition and implicit definition of civilization. Mr. Segal shows in the plays the relation of man to his potential savagery, the suspension of the hero between the extremes of animal violence and quasi-divine greatness, the relation of tragic heroism to social norms, ritual, and communication.

This thorough rereading of Sophocles will well serve students of Greek thought and poetry as well as those interested in seeing literature against a background of myth and ritual.


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Twentieth-Century American Literary Naturalism
An Interpretation
Donald Pizer
Southern Illinois University Press, 1982

Scorned by critics since birth, decreed dead by many, naturalism, according to Donald Pizer, is “one of the most persistent and vital strains in American fiction, perhaps the only modern literary form in America that has been both popular and significant.”

To define naturalism and explain its tena­cious hold throughout the twentieth century on the American creative imagination, Pizer explores six novels: James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan, John Dos Passos’s U.S.A., John Stein­beck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, William Styron’s Lie Down in Darkness, and Saul Bellow’s The Adven­tures of Augie March.

Pizer’s approach to these novels is empiri­cal; he does not wrench each novel awk­wardly until it fits his framework of general­izations and principles; rather, he approaches the novels as fiction and arrives at his defini­tion through his close reading of the works.

Establishing the background of natural­ism, Pizer explains that it comes under attack because it is “sordid and sensational in sub­ject matter,” it challenges “man’s faith in his innate moral sense and thus his responsibility for his actions,” and it is so full of “social documentation” that it is often dismissed as little more than a photographic record of a life or an era; thus the “aesthetic valid­ity of the naturalistic novel has often been questioned.”

Pizer posits the 1890s, the 1930s,and the late 1940s as the decades when naturalism flourished in America. He concentrates on literary criticism, not on the philosophy ofnaturalism, to show that literary criticism can make a contribution to a particularly muddled area of literary history—a natural­ism that is alive and changing, thus resisting the neat definitions reserved for the dead.


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Understanding Kubrick's 2001
A Space Odyssey: Representation and Interpretation
Edited by James Fenwick
Intellect Books, 2018
Scholars have been studying the films of Stanley Kubrick for decades. This book, however, breaks new ground by bringing together recent empirical approaches to Kubrick with earlier, formalist approaches to arrive at a broader understanding of the ways in which Kubrick’s methods were developed to create the unique aesthetic creation that is 2001: A Space Odyssey. As the fiftieth anniversary of the film nears, the contributors explore its still striking design, vision, and philosophical structure, offering new insights and analyses that will give even dedicated Kubrick fans new ways of thinking about the director and his masterpiece.

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