What is Interpretation?
- the act of literacy, the human process of making inferences, of ascribing meaning to signs and symbols, the act of signification.
People make interpretations of texts and events in order to make sense of world.
Interpretation is a deeply subjective process. Different people can see the exact same event and infer contrasting interpretations. Critics often disagree about the relative merits of movies, songs, and other texts.
Personal experience shapes interpretation. Our world view is shaped by our contexts—our families, schools, communities, and workplaces. The rhetorical stances we can imagine adopting in response to exigencies, calls for discourse, are shaped by our interpretations about what exists and what is possible.
People are rhetorically situated. Their interpretations are shaped by their discourse communities, their communities of practice. For instance, he Association of College and Research Libraries has identified six interpretative frameworks that underlie critical literacy practices:
- Authority is Constructed & Contextual
- Information Creation as a Process
- Information Has Value
- Research as Inquiry
- Scholarship as a Conversation
- Searching as Strategic Exploration
Much of the library-orientated training students receive in the U.S. concern these six frameworks.
In contrast, consider how critics use theory to interprets works of art and literature:
- Critical Disability Studies
- Feminist Criticism
- LGBTQ + Criticism
- Marxist Criticism
- New Historicist Criticism
- Post-Colonial Criticism
- Post-Structuralist, Deconstructive Criticism
- Psychological Criticism
- Reader-Response Criticism
- Russian Formalism and New Criticism
- Structuralist Criticism