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Indiana University Bloomington

Master Classes in the Humanities

Observing Masters of the Craft at Work

About The Series

The Master Classes in the Humanities: The Art of Interpretation is a lecture series at Indiana University, Bloomington, by outstanding scholars from different fields addressed to a broad academic audience. The lectures focus not on the speakers' respective fields of expertise, but rather on the core competence of the humanities: interpretation. 

Interpretation makes objects that appear to be examples of something—a painting, a sonnet, a photographic portrait, a gesture—into exemplars of a larger structure of meaning. This is a practice that has less in common with what is often called method, understood as an algorithmic procedure, and more with the artful skill of a master. 

Rather than presenting a talk about their current area of research, our speakers do something different: they focus on a single object and in a process of careful interpretation and analysis bring to light new zones of meaning.

The lecture series is accompanied by a seminar that gathers a dozen faculty members from multiple departments for meetings with our visitors and intensive discussions of the question of interpretation.

The series had its start in Fall 2010, and a video archive of past lectures can be found here. In 2011-12, the Master Classes project is generously funded by the College Arts & Humanities Institute, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Provost's Office, all at Indiana University, Bloomington.

All lectures are free and open to the public.

Conveners:
Michel Chaouli (Germanic Studies)
Dror Wahrman (History)