Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer Toggle Navigation Menu

Critical Theory

Featured photo: Nikos Engonopoulos, “Delos” (1939)

The interdisciplinary study of Critical Theory is one of the most influential movements in inciting thought and society to critical self-reevaluations.

Critical theory is a tool with which to study anything. Investigate topics as diverse as “what is being?”—“how does racism work?”— or “why do people rush to buy all available toilet paper even when they know the rumors of shortage are fake?”

Critical theory is neither philosophy, nor political science, nor sociology, nor any other discipline, but a way of seeing all of these things as parts of an invisible whole. The concentration brings together continental philosophers and other thinkers, including Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Antonio Gramsci, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, and Slavoj Žižek.

Why study Critical Theory at Macalester?

  • Our rigorous coursework helps students grow as readers, writers, and thinkers by sharpening their ability to interpret and synthesize difficult texts and ideas.
  • Combine the critical theory concentration with a variety of disciplines at Macalester, including political science, international studies, religious studies, music, art, media and cultural studies, German and other languages and cultures.
  • Professors invest in students’ success, helping with graduate school applications or working together to edit manuscripts for academic books.
  • Critical theory can be applied to any endeavor. Our graduates work in fields ranging from fashion to humanitarianism. Many attend distinguished graduate programs for political theory, film, comparative literature, and law, among other disciplines.

Recent student projects

A sample of course offerings

  • Cultures of Neoliberalism
  • Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud
  • Dead White Men (From Early Modern Philosophy to 20th-Century Theory)
  • Democracies, Feminisms, Capitalisms
  • Existentialist Metaphysics
  • Feminist/Queer Theories
  • Globalization and Contemporary Art
  • Islam and the West
  • Marx, Religion, and Biopolitical Race
  • Music and Freedom
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Theorizing Religion
  • Theoretical Approaches to Film
  • Theory in Anthropology

View a more comprehensive list.

Life after Macalester

  • Recent Employers

    • Bravo Models
    • Button Poetry
    • Dizzy’s Diner
    • DwellWell, Inc
    • EXPLO at Yale University
    • Fusemachines
    • Living Challenge, Inc.
    • Minneapolis Bouldering Project
    • Minneapolis College of Art and Design
    • Minnesota Historical Society
    • Olson
    • Project Space
    • Samuel Hall
    • SMA Home Delivery & Personal Shopping
    • Starbucks
    • Stink Studios
    • Stinson Leonard Street LLP
    • The Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia
    • The Arshile Gorky Foundation
    • Thomas J. Watson Foundation
    • Trader Joe’s
    • Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
    • Wells Fargo
    • WFNU Frogtown Community Radio

  • Recent Graduate Schools

    • Brown University
    • Free University of Berlin (Freie Univ)
    • University of Chicago
    • University of New Mexico/Main Campus
    • Yale University

Critical Theory in the cities

Major international figures in critical theory often host public lectures and seminars in the Twin Cities.

Nearby museums, music concerts, and theater performances enrich coursework.


Internship sites within 8 miles of campus, including internships in journalism, editing, teaching, and museum curating.

Join our community

  • At the annual Critical Theory Symposium, faculty speakers give talks and hold question-and-answer sessions. Bring your appetite! The event includes food and drinks.