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 494 Theoretical Perspectives on the French Enlightenment (Andrew Billing)
GERM 327 - Darwin/Nietzsche/Freud (David Martyn)
GERM 337 - Dead White Men (Kiarina Kordela)
GERM 394 Topics (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 235 - Existentialist Metaphysics (Diane Michelfelder)
PHIL 367 - 20th Century Continental Philosophy (Diane Michelfelder)
POLI 160 - Foundations of Political Theory (Frank Adler)
SOCI 294 Marxism and Religion: Religion as Ideology (Erik Davis)
SOCI 272 - Social Theories (Khaldoun Samman)
THDA 489 - Seminar in Performance Theory and Practice (Lara Nielsen)
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 Black Feminist Thought (Duchess Harris)
AMST 331 - Racial Formation, Culture and US History (Karin Aguilar-San Juan)
AMST 300 - Jr Civic Engagement Seminar: Race and the Law (Duchess Harris)
ANTH 294 Museum Anthropology (Olga Gonzalez)
ANTH 487 - Theory in Anthropology (Olga Gonzalez)
FREN 413 - Studies in Theory (Joëlle Vitiello)
FREN 194 Revolutionary Thought in France (Andrew Billing)
MCST 110 - Texts and Power: Foundations of Media and Cultural Studies (John Kim)
MCST 294 Old and New Media (Yue)
MCST 315 - Gender, Sexuality and Film (Genevieve Yue)
PHIL 294 Philosophy of Technology (Diane Michelfelder)
PHIL 364 - Philosophy of Language (Joy Laine)
POLI 260 - Contemporary Political Theory (Frank Adler)
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 - Camp, Kitsch, and Poshlost: The Making of Modern (Bad) Taste (Kayiatos)
SOCI 394 The Politics of Fear (Khaldoun Samman)
THDA 110 - Introduction to Theatre Studies (Lara Nielsen)
THDA 260 - Performance Studies Praxis: Avant Garde Arts and the Social (Joanna Inglot and Lara Nielsen)
WGSS 200 - Feminist/Queer Theories and Methodologies (Sonita Sarker)
WGSS 220 - Icons, Ideas, Instruments: Feminist Re-constructions Feminist Reconstructions: Subaltern (Sonita Sarker)
WGSS 294 - Topics Course Whiteness and Postcolonialism (Sonita Sarker)
WGSS 315 - Comparative (Neo/Post) Modernities (Sonita Sarker)
WGSS 320 - Gender, Sexuality and Film (Genevieve Yue)
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.