Sunday, April 11, 2010
"TRUTH AND METHOD Fifty Years After: Gadamer's Influence on the Humanities," University of Leiden, August 26-28, 2010.
Almost fifty years ago, Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method (1960) appeared. Among philosophers and theologians, this classic study of interpretation has enjoyed a spectacular reception history. But what sort of Gadamerian influences can be traced in the humanities (history, art history, classics, literary studies, etc.)? How has Truth and Method changed the humanities? Initially, the reception of Gadamerian hermeneutics within the humanities seemed dominated by criticisms such as E. D. Hirsch’s. Accustomed to the language of method and objectivity, many of Hirsch’s generation rejected a hermeneutics that was distinctively unmethodological and openly hostile toward epistemological subject-object dichotomies. However, fifty years after Gadamer’s book the influence of Truth and Method seems to have grown larger than Hirsch’s generation could imagine. Dozens of studies on Gadamer’s significance for (art) history or literary studies have appeared. Since many of these studies stay within the realm of prolegomena to the practice of interpretation, one wonders what broader tendencies they represent. In what sense, if any, do they reflect changing attitudes toward Gadamerian hermeneutics within the humanities? How have they contributed to the reception history of Truth and Method among (art) historians, literary scholars, classicists, etc.? Besides, within these practices of interpretation the past decades have witnessed a rapidly increased openness to some of the themes which Truth and Method famously addressed. These include (but are not limited to) the interpreter’s subject-position, the irreducibility of interpretation to method, the inseparability of meaning and significance, and the mediated nature of knowledge. Is there a sense in which we might speak of a hermeneutic “turn”? To what extent can this turn be attributed to an engagement with Gadamer’s classic text? For a conference to be held on the eve of Truth and Method’s fiftieth anniversary, we solicit proposals dealing with the influence of Gadamer’s book on the theory and practice of interpretation in the humanities. In particular, we welcome three types of papers: 1.Case studies that show in detail how interpretations of selected texts or artworks have changed, or could change, in the light of Gadamerian insights; 2.Discipline-specific overviews that show how Truth and Method, or the secondary literature on Gadamer, has helped transform the disciplines traditionally belonging to the humanities; 3.Critical studies that address the benefits and problems of Gadamerian hermeneutics within the humanities. For further information, visit the conference website here: http://www.hum.leiden.edu/news-agenda/conference-truth-and-method.html.