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Against Interpretation | Study Guide

Susan Sontag

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Course Hero. "Against Interpretation Study Guide." Course Hero. 10 July 2020. Web. 4 June 2023. <>.

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Course Hero. (2020, July 10). Against Interpretation Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 4, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2020)



Course Hero. "Against Interpretation Study Guide." July 10, 2020. Accessed June 4, 2023.


Course Hero, "Against Interpretation Study Guide," July 10, 2020, accessed June 4, 2023,



Susan Sontag

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At a Glance

"Against Interpretation" lays out philosopher, writer, and cultural critic Susan Sontag's reasons for why the ubiquitous practice of critical interpretation is degrading to art. Critics should appreciate art's forms, aesthetics, and how it makes the viewer feel. "Against Interpretation" is one of Sontag's landmark essays published in 1966 in her first collection Against Interpretation and Other Essays. Sontag became one of the most influential and widely recognized modern philosophers in America in the 1960s and 70s. Her matter-of-fact style and dedication to appreciating popular art made her writing prescient, accessible, and perennially relevant.

Perspective and Narrator

This is a first-person narrative addressed to the general public. Susan Sontag refers to "here" as the United States of America and "now" as the time she wrote, the 1960s, so she is generally addressing contemporary Americans and consumers of art.

About the Title

Sontag explains in "Against Interpretation" why she is opposed to interpreting art and calls for a return to experiencing art and appreciating form rather than content. The word "interpretation" connotes a need for art to be translated by an expert such as a critic into something the non-expert can understand. Instead of experiencing works of art, intellectuals have insisted on "interpreting" them.


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