SIBELAN FORRESTER (Russian), Coordinator
Deborah B Sloman, Administrative Assistant
Farid Azfar (History)
Jean-Vincent Blanchard (Associate Provost, French and Francophone Studies)
Timothy Burke (History)
Rachel Buurma (English Literature)
Sibelan Forrester (Russian)4
Grace Ledbetter (Classics, Philosophy)
Tamsin Lorraine (Philosophy)
Rosaria Munson (Classics)
Maya Nadkarni (Sociology and Anthropology)
Patricia Reilly (Art History)3
Olivia Sabee (Dance)
Osman Balkan (Political Science)
Eric Song (English Literature)
Mark Wallace (Religion)
Patricia White (English Literature)
1 On Leave Fall 2020
2 On Leave Spring 2021
3 On Leave 2020-2021 Academic Year
4 On Leave 2021-2022
The Interpretation Theory Program provides students and faculty with an interdisciplinary forum for exploring the nature, ethics, and politics of representation. Reaching widely across the disciplines, work done in the minor reflects a long-standing drive to cultivate self-consciousness in the use of a significant range of interpretive methods. Students use this course of study to develop a flexible, comparative, critical, historicized grasp of theories of the production of meaning in and through cultural life. They also sharpen their skills in critical reading and intellectual analysis.
Students who minor take a total of six courses that build on a combination of classic and current hermeneutic methods. Each year, graduating seniors enroll in a capstone seminar that proposes a structured investigation into an inherently interdisciplinary problem. Faculty team-teach the course as a way of drawing out multi-disciplinary concerns in both theory and practice.
Students who minor in Interpretation Theory take a total of 6 courses that build on a combination of classic and current hermeneutic methods. Three general rules guide the selection:
- All minors are required to successfully complete the one-credit capstone seminar, team-taught by two faculty members from different departments, in spring of their senior year. Juniors may enroll upon approval of the instructors, but the seminar must be taken in the spring of senior year in order to receive capstone credit. First-years are not permitted in the seminar.
- The three remaining courses are elective but must draw upon at least three different departments. At least 4 of the 6 interpretation theory credits must be outside the major.
- A minimum “B” average is required for all minors by their junior and senior years.
Other courses may be considered upon petition to the Interpretation Studies Committee. These may include relevant courses offered at Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, and the University of Pennsylvania.
All students participating in the Honors Program are invited to define a Honors minor in interpretation theory. Students must complete one preparation for external examination. This 2-credit preparation can be:
- a 2-credit Honors seminar;
- the INTP Capstone seminar plus a reading attachment or a thesis;
- a combination of two eligible courses in different departments;
- a 2-credit thesis;
- or a combination of a thesis plus a related course.
Any thesis must be multidisciplinary. The proposed preparation must be approved by the Interpretation Theory Committee. Honors minors must meet all other requirements of the interdisciplinary minor.
All minors are required to successfully complete the one-credit capstone seminar, team-taught by two faculty members from different departments, in the spring of their senior year.
Each year, graduating seniors enroll in a capstone seminar that proposes a structured investigation into an inherently interdisciplinary problematic. The capstone seminar embodies both the theoretical and interdisciplinary qualities that make interpretation theory distinctive and compelling.
Students majoring in a variety of disciplines come together with faculty members from 2 different areas to explore theories of knowledge and questions of interpretation and representation. For example, past capstone seminars have brought together professors from French literature and biology, political science and religion, anthropology and English, philosophy and art, classics and linguistics, and other interdisciplinary combinations.
Current and past capstone titles include: Cultural Dimensions of Scientific Thought; Corporality in Storytelling; Rituals and Spectacles of Violence; Hero Time Travel; Mind, Body, Machine; Interpretation and the Visual Arts; Beyond Reason: Nietzsche, Levinas and the Kabbalah; Mapping the Modern; and Visionaries of Spirit, and Masters of Suspicion.
Life After Swarthmore
Respondents to an Interpretation Theory Program alumni survey in 2013 indicated that approximately 54% went on to graduate school and of those, approximately 67% pursued a Ph.D. or other doctorate.
Occupations of interpretation theory graduates are diverse and include: physicians, professors, editors, grant writers, and civil rights activists.
Interpretation Theory Courses
Currently offered courses relevant to the program include the following:
Modern Languages and Literatures
Peace and Conflict Studies
For the most up-to-date, semester-by-semester list of courses, please consult the program website at www.swarthmore.edu/intp.
Any courses attached to the program, at the time taken, will be counted toward requirements for the minor in interpretation theory.
Other courses may be considered on petition to the Interpretation Theory Committee. These may include relevant courses offered at Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges and the University of Pennsylvania.