This concentration provides students an opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of Critical Theory, one of the most influential movements in inciting thought and society to critical self-reevaluations. In the broadest sense, Critical Theory can be described as the application of philosophical thought to cultural and social phenomena with the aim of identifying formations of knowledge and the relations of power underlying them. It is, therefore, defined not through the objects analyzed—which are found across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and even “hard” sciences—but through its distinctive methodology. The objectives of the concentration are to cultivate in students skills in analyzing: (a) the underlying presuppositions operative in any field of knowledge in order for it to accept certain claims as true; (b) the underlying presuppositions on the basis of which a field of knowledge raises and pursues a certain set of questions, as opposed to others; (c) the common presuppositions shared by apparently diverse fields of knowledge, so as to discern the constellation of interrelated cognitive, cultural, and socio-political practices that subtend specific historical epochs; and (d) the interaction among discourses in terms of intellectual history or history of consciousness in its relation to socio-political formations.
Critical Theory Concentration
Structure of Concentration
A concentration in Critical Theory consists of five (5) courses and one (1) course or project that involves a major research paper. At least three (3) of the five courses counted toward the concentration must be selected from the list of Core Courses. No more than three (3) of the five courses may be taken in any single department.
The major research paper must focus primarily on Critical Theory and must be completed in the senior year or after the student has taken four CT courses-whichever comes first. Students may fulfill this requirement by completing: (a) a departmental senior seminar that requires a major paper engaging with Critical Theory; (b) a departmental Honors project focused on Critical Theory; or (c) an equivalent research paper or project approved in advance by the program coordinator (e.g. an independent study with a participating faculty member; a Keck summer research project).
All courses and the activity in which the student will produce the major research paper should be selected and developed as part of a coherent plan in consultation with an advisor from the steering committee, and must be approved by the director of the program. A copy of the final project should also be supplied to the program director.
Core Courses focus directly and in a sustained manner on the founders and architects of Critical Theory, including its background traditions of thought. These courses offer a basic understanding of the genealogy, purpose, and philosophical/historical/intellectual background of Critical Theory, and provide students with the fundamental conceptual framework and terminology of the field.
ART 264 - Contemporary Art and Critical Theory (Joanna Inglot)
ART 394 - Topics Course Globalization and Contemporary Art (Joanna Inglot)
FREN 416 - French Interdisciplinary Studies: Of a Beautiful Mind: Literature/Philosophy at a Crossroads (Jean-Pierre Karegeye)
FREN 494 - Topics Course Theoretical Perspectives on the French Enlightenment (Andrew Billing)
GERM 314 - Darwin/Nietzsche/Freud (David Martyn)
GERM 337 - Dead White Men (Kiarina Kordela)
GERM 365 - Kafka: Gods, Animals, and Other Species of Modernity
GERM 394 - Topics Course (when appropriate) (topics vary: e.g., Metaphysics in Secular Thought, Concepts of Freedom from Leibniz to Agamben, German-French Dialogues in Critical Theory, Value) (Kiarina Kordela or David Martyn)
INTL 367 - Postcolonial Theory (David Moore)
PHIL 210 - Existentialist Metaphysics (Diane Michelfelder)
PHIL 300 - 20th Century Continental Philosophy (Diane Michelfelder)
POLI 160 - Foundations of Political Theory (Frank Adler)
RELI 256 - Marx: Religion as Ideology, Alienation, and Authority (Erik Davis)
SOCI 272 - Social Theories (Khaldoun Samman)
WGSS 300 - Advanced Feminist/Queer Theories and Methodologies (Sonita Sarker)
Elective Courses either use critical-theory-oriented approaches or focus on more peripheral representatives of the field or address specialized subfields within Critical Theory. They offer students a chance to acquire more detailed mastery of specific topics in the field of Critical Theory, as well as to gain exposure to the broader array of its applications in contemporary discourse.
AMST 294 - Topics Course Black Feminist Thought (Duchess Harris)
AMST 300 - Jr Civic Engagement Seminar: Race and the Law (Duchess Harris)
ANTH 294 - Topics Course Museum Anthropology (Olga Gonzalez)
ANTH 487 - Theory in Anthropology (Olga Gonzalez)
FREN 413 - Studies in Theory (Joëlle Vitiello)
FREN 194 - Topics Course Revolutionary Thought in France (Andrew Billing)
INTL 294 - Topics Course Photography: Histories and Practices of an International Medium (Zeynep Gürsel)
INTL 394 - Topics Course Cultures of Neoliberalism (Zeynep Gürsel and Morgan Adamson)
MCST 110 - Texts and Power: Foundations of Media and Cultural Studies (John Kim)
MCST 394 - Topics Course Cultures of Neoliberalism (Zeynep Gürsel and Morgan Adamson)
MUSI 155 MUSI 155 - Music and Freedom (Mark Mazullo)
PHIL 294 - Topics Course Philosophy of Technology (Diane Michelfelder)
PHIL 394 - Topics Course Philosophical Worlds: Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein (Diane Michelfelder)
PHIL 311 - Philosophy of Language (Joy Laine)
POLI 260 - Contemporary Political Theory (Frank Adler)
POLI 266 - Medieval Political Thought (Andrew Latham)
POLI 320 - Global Political Economy (David Blaney)
RELI 194 - Topics Course Society Worshipping Itself: Durkheim and Religion (Erik Davis)
RELI 235 - Theory and Method in the Study of Religion (Paula Cooey)
RELI 311 - Ritual (Erik Davis)
RUSS 294 - Topics Course Camp, Kitsch, and Poshlost: The Making of Modern (Bad) Taste (Kayiatos)
SOCI 194 - Topics Course Moral Panics and the Other (Samman)
SOCI 290 - Islam and the West (Samman)
SOCI 294 - Topics Course Global Capitalism: Past, Present, Future (Samman)
WGSS 200 - Feminist/Queer Theories and Methodologies (Sonita Sarker)
WGSS 220 - Icons, Ideas, Instruments: Feminist Re-constructions Feminist Reconstructions: Subaltern (Sonita Sarker)
WGSS 240 - Comparative Feminisms: Whiteness and Postcolonialisms (Sarker)
WGSS 315 - Comparative (Neo/Post) Modernities (Sonita Sarker)
Students are encouraged to take courses on Critical Theory during their study abroad. Up to one course credits may be counted toward the completion of the concentration with the advance approval of the program director.
Students may search for courses currently being offered and affiliated with the Critical Theory concentration through the Searchable Class Schedule within 1600grand.