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Critical Theory Concentration

This concentration provides students an opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of Critical Theory, an influential movement in philosophy and social thought.  Critical Theory works to blur the traditional distinctions between "pure thought" and "material practices" - social, textual, political, historical, and economic relations. What designates a certain course as Critical Theory does not depend on the objects one analyzes - which are found across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and even natural sciences - but on methods that bridge these disciplines. Critical Theory questions the frameworks of understanding and conceptual hierarchies we rely on to explain the world; explores the historical conditions of contemporary thought; and reflects on the connections between cultural and political phenomena.


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); or (d) with the approval of the course instructor, an approximately 20-page long paper for one of your five CT courses.

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.

*Please refer to the Critical Theory website for semester-approved topics courses

Elective Courses either use critical-theory-oriented approaches 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.

*Please refer to the Critical Theory website for semester-approved topics courses

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 both the Class Schedules on the Critical Theory website and the Searchable Class Schedule within 1600grand.

Students may also earn credit toward the Critical Theory concentration by conducting an independent study with one of the professors affiliated with the Critical Theory concentration.