Titling At Windmills

I’ve written before about my restlessness about naming my project. In that post, I describe my eventual contentment with the designation ‘differential hermeneutics’; it’s fair, it does the trick, and people already associate it with me. At one point I considered including in the monograph version an entire chapter of possible titles, with the explanation for it and the reason it ultimately doesn’t work as a designation.
So, for instance, I’ve written about my approach as sensual hermeneutics, because it places a greater emphasis on sensing than does an approach to interpretation that treats reading as a transparent, obvious datum. Plus, if it were on the cover along with a salacious image, the book might sell more copies! But the downside of ‘sensuous’ is that (a) it’s a bit of a distraction, and (b) it describes but does not define what I’m up to.
That led me to think, ‘Maybe “sensational hermeneutics”!’ It’s still jazzy and perhaps even more clever; but again, it falls short of a clear indication of what’s going on.
‘White Hermeneutics’ does well for pointing (in a way) to the political cast of my work, except that I’m not about White hermeneutics itself, but only pointing the Whiteness of conventional hermeneutics (yesterday, maybe, someone on my FB timeline mourned [not in the following words] the imposition of White hermeneutics on aspiring Black preachers) — if conventional hermeneutics are White, then Whiteness must be optional for people of colour. But that takes the part for the whole: my project isn’t about White supremacy in hermeneutics, but about why the dominant culture shouldn’t demand that everybody (else) kneel before their eminence. It’s not Male Hermeneutics, or Straight Hermeneutics, or First-World Hermeneutics (and I wouldn’t presume to call it Feminist or Womanist, or LGBTIQA+ or Two-Thirds World hermeneutics); it’s an account of the difference.
Anyway, feel free to join in with unsatisfactory titles yourselves. When I think of any others, I’ll add them in the comments.

8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oh, here’s another, for instance. I’m working through some Lyotard at the moment (on which more later, I’m sure), and in an essay on his epistemology a critic keeps stressing Lyotard’s ‘oscillation’ between straightforward discourse and affective figuration as a counterposition to (on one hand) radical scepticism and (on the other) overstated certainty about knowledge. That’s as it may be about Lyotard (I’m disposed to question ‘oscillation’), but because I advocate a cautious, pragmatic approach to hermeneutical reasoning, I thought for a while about ‘Tentative Hermeneutics’, playing on the historic sense of ‘tentative’ in English (and the current sense of the French tentatif) as having to do with a test run, an experiment. But really, who wants to buy in to ‘tentative hermeneutics’?

  2. As just an old, country historian, I have no idea what you are talking about, but must share a small, humorous reflection on cultural context — upon reading the header, I wondered … why is he starting with a post from last month?

    1. Margaret and I have finally, finally become accustomed to rest-of-the-world dating conventions. It took us years, though; we fell much more rapidly into allotting all time by the Oxford term calendars (‘Bill wants to see on Wednesday of Third — are we clear?’). Even now, the college calendar sends me little alerts saying it’s Seventeenth Week or some such non-existent interval.

    1. Margaret and I — inspired by the Elvis Costello song — just love looking out for it on our way down to and up from London.

  3. Another: ‘unconventional hermeneutics’, since it’s both a matter of a divergent approach, and also of calling attention to and disrupting the operations of conventions in interpretation (which conventions conventional hermeneutics treats as natural or given or necessary).

  4. Another: ‘wild hermeneutics’, because I want to start almost phenomenologically, from the process of inference and perception, without the domesticated version of interpretation offered by those hermeneutics that insist on intrinsic meaning and correct conclusions.

  5. I don’t recall having been asked for input on this topic, and–of course–I have a few suggestions:
    Agreeable Hermeneutics, Not your Father’s Hermeneutics, Universal and Particular Hermeneutics, It’s the end of meaning as you know it Hermeneutics, Uncommon Sense Hermeneutics, Accountability Hermeneutics, Communication Hermeneutics, Communicative Hermeneutics, Constructive Hermeneutics, Signs and Wonders Hermeneutics, Sense and Sensibility Hermeneutics, Sensible Hermeneutics, Sense-Making Hermeneutics (with the advantage of tying your published work together from the beginning), Get to the Point A’ready Hermeneutics, Non-Polarity Hermeneutics, Living Hermeneutics, What Everybody Does Anyway Hermeneutics, Just Do It Hermeneutics, Interactive Hermeneutics, No-Name Hermeneutics. I could go on…

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