2018-2019 Courses

2018-2019 Course Offerings

Fall:  101, 200A, 200B, 298

Winter: 200A, 200C

Spring: 200A, 200C, FRE 202 (200B Equivalent),  COM 210 (200B Equivalent)

For general catalog descriptions, click here.

For expanded course descriptions, see below.

Fall 2018

Critical Theory 101. Intro to Critical Theory      [Cross-listed with COM 141]
Michael Subialka

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-10:20A
1342 Storer

CRN: 17113

Course Description: Introduction to critical theory and its use for interpreting literary texts, film, and media forms in global culture.

Prerequisite: Completion of Entry-Level Writing (formerly Subject A) Requirement.

GE credit (Old): Arts & Humanities and Writing Experience.
GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, World Cultures and Writing Experience.

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 3 hours; Term Paper.


  • TBA

Critical Theory 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory
Scott Shershow

Wednesdays, 3:10-6:00P
248 Voorhies Hall
CRN: 17114

An introduction to the basic currents of critical theory in the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on Marxism, feminism and deconstruction.  Rather than use an anthology, we'll read closely a relatively small number of books, essays and extended extracts, each of which represents a crucial reference point for contemporary thought.  Evaluation will be based on class participation, weekly ungraded response papers, and a concluding term paper, in which students can, if they wish, bring their own research interests to bear on the course readings.

Tentative reading list:

  • Nietzsche, selections from The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
  • Heidegger, “The Word of Nietzsche: God is Dead”
  • Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, from The German Ideology, and other selections.
  • Sigmund Freud, from The Interpretation of Dreams.
  • Ferdinand De Saussure, from Course In General Linguistics.
  • Louis Althusser, “Marx’s Immense Theoretical Revolution,” from Reading Capital.
  • Claude Levi-Strauss, "Overture" to The Raw and the Cooked.
  • Jacques Derrida, “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences."
  • Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1.
  • Frederic Jameson,"On Interpretation," from The Political Unconscious.
  • Simon de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, chapter one.
  • Janet Halley, Split Decisions: How and Why to Take a Break from Feminism
  • Nahum Chandler, "Of Exorbitance: The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought.”
  • Jacques Derrida, “Force of Law: The 'Mystical Foundations of Authority.'"

Critical Theory 200B. Problems in Critical Theory
Mario Biagioli

Mondays, 4:10-7:00P
1246 Social Sciences
CRN: 43126


We engage some of the theoretically sophisticated literature addressing the rise of the neoliberal or corporate university.  After a brief discussion of the rise of the model of the research university in the 19th century in Europe and the US, we analyze the current crisis of that model and the developments it has spawned.  A few foci will guide the discussion of this broad terrain:  the concern with university branding, the rise of the discourse of excellence, the adoption of metrics and quantitative indicators, and the globalization/franchising of elite western universities, and the growing concern with intellectual property.  Readings include William Clark, John Marx, Robert Meister, Sally Merry, Chris Newfield, Michael Power, Bill Readings, Shelia Slaughter, Marilyn Strathern, Sam Weber.

Critical Theory 298. Marx, Capital, Method.
Seeta Chaganti

Thursdays, 3:10-4:30P
308 Voorhies Hall
CRN: 17116

This is a 2 unit course. We will focus our efforts on Capital (1864), riding that in its entirety over eight weeks, and complete the course with two weeks of selections from The Grundrisse (1857): the introduction on method and the "Fragment on Machines.” In both cases we will use the Penguin edition. There may be support readings assigned throughout. The course expectations include only regular attendance and participation, with one presentation of reading materials. The goal of the course is to get a thoroughgoing grasp of Marx’s critique of bourgeois political economy. his own critical political economy, and to consider its relevance to the present as description, method, and predictive tool. Expected high points: a theory of crisis, can Marx explain the “New Economy” of precarious and immaterial labor, is there an ongoing accumulation by dispossession, how excellent will communism be?

Winter 2019

Critical Theory 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory
Kathleen Frederickson

Mondays 3:10p - 6:00p
Voorhies 248
CRN:  28521


This course is designed to enable you to read work in contemporary critical theory. With that aim in view, it sets out to offer a partial overview of key movements and thinkers, from Kant onward, that retain theoretical relevance in the current moment. We will read texts by Immanuel Kant, GWF Hegel, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, Claude Levi-Strauss, Frantz Fanon, Louis Althusser, Huey Newton, Luce Irigaray, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, Sylvia Wynter, Fred Moten.

Critical Theory 200C. History of Critical Theory (Also being offered as STS 205:  Faciality)
Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli

Tuesdays 12:10 - 3:00p
Art Annex 112
CRN: 28522


With the invention of photography, cinema, and computational media the face has come to signify intensity and power (Deleuze), the bearing of the soul (Balasz), individuality (Lacan), truth, beauty, ideas (Barthes), and interiority as well as the most basic support of intersubjectivity (Levinas). Yet contemporary facial technologies allow us to inhabit other people’s faces and to modify our own. This course will examine the how the history of perception has been entangled with the image (eidolon) of the face, haptics (Descartes), and the neural processing of emotions, examining how the face came to be considered the interface between reception and expression. The course will consider how optical and visual technologies have transformed the way we think about and interact with the face. Readings from Plato, Kepler, Descartes, Darwin, Galton, Duchenne, Münsterberg, Balasz, Levinas, Flusser, Ekman, Deleuze and Guattari, Doane, Steimatzky, Gates, Galloway, Pearl, etc.).

Spring 2019

Critical Theory 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory
Kris Fallon

CRN 67185
Wednesdays 3:10- 6:00pm
112 Art Annex

Course Description: This course will approach current debates around political violence, identity, subjectivity and representation by introducing the key theorists and issues that animate and underpin these discussions.  Each week we will pair core texts from central figures including Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Foucault, Heidegger, and Adorno with essays from contemporary theorists including Judith Butler, Frank Wilderson, Jacques Ranciere, Frederic Jameson, Wendy Brown and Giorgio Agamben.  Special attention will be paid to enduring concepts and questions which have and continue to structure theoretically engaged discourse including the constitution of the bounded subject, the role of ideology, the ground of critique, the problem of mimesis and representation and the shifting status of knowledge and experience.  Though we cannot cover all of the ideas in a single quarter, students will be exposed to the major schools of thought which have structured the discussion and the stakes involved in their differences and delineations.

Critical Theory 200C. History of Critical Theory
Neil Larsen

CRN 91979
Thursdays 3:10 - 6:00pm
1106 Hart

Rather than proceed panoramically, this seminar will begin with close readings of a limited number of ancient philosophical works: Plato’s Phaedrus, Symposium and selections from The Republic followed by Aristotle’s Poetics, and sections from both the Nicomachean Ethics and the Metaphysics.   This will be followed by a more or less abrupt leap to a similarly restricted and canonical set of early modern European philosophical works, among them Descartes’ Discourse on Method and Meditations; selections from Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Human Inequality to be read in implicit contrast but negative identity with Hobbes’ Leviathan; and concluding finally with Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. But rather than discuss and analyze these works according to the meta-narrative that frames them as the continuous unfolding of ‘Western’ philosophical thought-forms, we will do the opposite, stressing the radical break separating them in a reflection of the more fundamental historical gulf separating the so-to-speak ‘centrifugal’ communal structure (absent any utopian implications) of pre-capitalist social formations and the ‘centripetal’ relations of the modern capitalist and alienated social form. That is to say that here we will regard the ‘history of Critical Theory’ as the history of philosophy understood from the standpoint of Critical Theory—a ‘history’ of that commences no further back than Marx’s Capital.  In this we will draw in particular on a small number of ‘secondary’ works, primarily on Adorno’s lectures on Metaphysics and on (Kant’s) Moral Philosophy. Final grade to reflect seminar-type participation in discussions, formal oral presentations and a final seminar paper or take home essay examination (4,000 word minimum) required.


FRE 202.   (Pre-Approved 200B Equivalent)
Julia Simon

CRN 91859
Mondays, 2:10-5:00pm
003 Wellman

How is music different from other aesthetic objects?  Despite formal properties shared with literature, theatre, painting, and sculpture, music nonetheless represents a significantly different type of artistic expression.  One aspect of the course will focus on work in sound studies, auditory culture and aesthetic theory in music to better understand music’s specificity and appropriate modes of analysis.  Music, like all other arts, arises in specific historical and geographical contexts with socio-political, economic, and material constraints on artists and performers.  As a case study, we will examine rap and hip-hop culture in the US and France for its historical specificity, especially with respect to technology.  How does technology shape aesthetic expression in the case of rap?  What kinds of challenges does rap pose for aesthetic theory, including in terms of notions of “originality” and “authenticity.”

We will read work by Adorno, Attali, Barthes, Derrida, LaBelle, Leppert, Schafter, Sterne, and others.

No knowledge of music required.

COM 210.  (Pre-Approved 200B Equivalent)
Gail Finney

CRN 66801
1106 Hart

Course Description: This seminar seeks to acquaint students with the complex domain of trauma studies by exploring theoretical, literary, and cinematic responses to three major types of traumatic experience: world war, the Holocaust, and family trauma.

Theorists such as Sigmund Freud, Cathy Caruth, Marianne Hirsch, Michael Rothberg, Shoshana Felman, Andrew Barnaby, Jeffrey Alexander, Dori Laub, E. Ann Kaplan, Dominick LaCapra, Anna Hunter, Judith Herman, Ruth Leys, Jennifer Griffiths, Gerd Bayer, and Joshua Pederson will be studied. Text: Trauma and Literature, ed. J. Roger Kurtz (2018).

With the aid of these and other theorists, students will investigate the representation of traumatic experience and its aftermath in works by such authors as Sophocles, Erich Maria Remarque, Wolfgang Borchert, Elie Wiesel, W.G. Sebald, and Paula Vogel and films such as All Quiet on the Western Front, The Murderers Are Among Us, Night and Fog, Schindler’s List, and Monster’s Ball.

Consideration of these works will be complemented by contributions from students’ respective areas of specialization.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of the instructor.

Format: Discussion – 3 hours; Term Paper