Interpretive Methods in the Humanities (DUH270)

Course description for study year 2023-2024. Please note that changes may occur.


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Exam semester


Language of instruction



This course provides students with a venue for reflecting on the different interpretive methods employed in the humanities. It surveys the origins, development and transformation of humanistic research methods and situates them within their shifting historical contexts. In particular, by examining the ‘art of interpretation’ known as hermeneutics, the course equips students with a methodological language for communicating their specific purposes as humanistic researchers. It considers the answers that different interpretive traditions have offered to problems of meaning, objectivity, subjectivity and distance, all while developing reflexivity and methodological awareness. A set of core readings introduces students to theological, rationalist, romantic, modern, postmodern and posthuman traditions of interpretation, and supplementary readings selected by students themselves allow them to customise the course to the own research needs. Key themes include language and meaning, dialogue and conversation, text and translation, self and narrative, truth and relativism, history and historicity, politics and critique, dialogue and conversation, text and translation, being and metaphysics. Students become familiar with key humanistic thinkers and are challenged to consider the implications of longstanding methodological debates to their own doctoral projects.

Learning outcome


The student will gain knowledge of:

  • The different interpretive methods employed in the humanities
  • The historical origins, development and transformation of hermeneutics
  • Current methodological debates in the humanities
  • The ethical challenges inherent to the different varieties of interpretation, as well as their social and political consequences.


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Articulate their research methods by reference to the different varieties of interpretation
  • Account reflexively for their methodological decisions
  • Critically evaluate the ethical, social and political consequences of adopting any one

methodological approach, including their own.

  • Engage in academic discourse regarding the nature, purposes and procedures of

humanistic inquiry.

General competence

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Reflect critically on methodological conventions found in different fields of the


  • Identify and evaluate intellectual, cultural, ethical and political presuppositions behind different methodological approaches in the humanities.

Required prerequisite knowledge



Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Oral presentation and essay 1/1 Passed / Not Passed

Oral presentation and essay, wt. 1/1 Mark: Pass/Fail

Coursework requirements

Active participation 75%
Active participation in lectures and seminars, at least 75% participation.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Tyson Ashley Retz

Method of work

The course will be held as lectures and seminars with discussions. A detailed timetable will be made available to course participants in advance of the seminar.

Open for

This course is for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Arts and Education and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stavanger. PhD candidates in programs at cooperating research institutions may also participate in the course.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course coordinator, the student representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital course evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


The syllabus can be found in Leganto