Current Academic Year Courses


2019-2020 Course Offerings

Fall:  101, 200C, ANT 210 (200B Equivalent)

Winter: 200A, FRE 211 (200B Equivalent)

Spring: 200B, 200C, STS (200A Equivalent)

For general catalog descriptions, click here.
For expanded course descriptions, see below.

Fall 2019

Critical Theory 101. Intro to Critical Theory      [Cross-listed with COM 141]
Stefan Uhlig

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-10:20A
233 Wellman

CRN: 36777

Course Description: This course provides an introduction to the history and recent situation of critical theory in comparative literary studies. We begin by exploring what led critics in the 60s and 70s to borrow methods from adjacent disciplines like linguistics, anthropology, or continental philosophy. We conclude by asking where theory stands now, and what has changed since the discovery of Paul de Man’s wartime writings seemingly confirmed popular suspicions about deconstruction. In between, we examine the basic questions addressed by structuralism, Foucault’s discursive histories, race theory, psychoanalytic readings, Derridean difference, Marxist criticism, gender theory, and de Manian deconstruction. I will, in each case, combine exemplary theoretical texts with primary texts or (moving) images that help us test our understanding of the arguments.

Prerequisite: One upper division literature course or consent of instructor (

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

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

  • All readings will be posted on Canvas

Critical Theory 200C. History of Critical Theory
Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli

Mondays 1:10 - 4:00p
Art Annex 112
CRN: 63462

Ghosts of Technology: This course traces the relationship of technological inventions such as the camera, the gramophone, and the Turing machine to human perception.  It explores how emerging media disrupt sense perceptions, creating doubles, forms of re-animation of the dead, memories, or historical events, and specters and ghosts in the machine. We will analyze the impact of the ghostly on the social imaginary and modes of communication. Readings from Plato, Mettrie, Riskin, Freud, Lacan, Kittler, Hansen, Marriott, Rotman, Steigler, and Andy Clark.


ANT 210: FIELDWORK IN ART HISTORY  (Pre-Approved 200B Equivalent)
Tarek Elhaik

Wednesdays, 3:10-6p
Shrem Manetti Museum seminar room 1001
CRN: 63005

The seminar has three objectives: 1) to revisit key debates in aesthetic anthropology; 2) to reanimate the minor tradition of anthropologists' writings on modern and contemporary artists; and 3) to design a new style of conducting and curating anthropological fieldwork in art history.  The seminar will meet at the Shrem & Manetti museum (room 1001).  

Winter 2020

Critical Theory 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory
Tobias Menely

Thursdays, 3:10-6:00p
CRN:  50467

Etymologically, to theorize means to look contemplatively, to examine from a distance, to speculate. To be a theorist, for the Greeks, is to stand apart and consider, whether one is viewing the stage, the stars, or the underlying forms of things. Critique, by contrast, assumes an active and invested relation to a determinate historical situation. Modern criticism developed, Terry Eagleton suggests, in bourgeois opposition to the absolutist state. Critical theory, then, is defined by a constitutive tension between two imperatives: to contemplate, tarrying with the negative and the abstract, and to judge, as an intervention in structures of
power. This seminar will survey modern critical theory, emphasizing links between foundational texts and current debates in the critical and speculative Humanities, particularly as scholars are drawing on, and reworking, canonical critical theory in response to the
economic, political, and planetary crises of the twenty-first century.
Required Texts
Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious
Eduardo Kohn, How Forests Think
Michael Marder, Energy Dreams
All other readings will be provided as PDFs in the Canvas Files tab or as links to online publications. Please bring a printed copy of all readings to class, at least all PDFs, unless you have a carefully considered electronic workflow that allows you to mark electronic texts and take reading notes in a separate document.


FRE 211
  (Pre-Approved 200B Equivalent)
Toby Warner

Thursdays, 1:10-4:00p
CRN: 76455

FRE 211: Theories of Translation

What is translation? How can we understand and study the various semiotic phenomena that are gathered under its name? Over the past few decades, a rich vein of scholarship in literary studies has attended to the ethical, political and poetic dimensions of failures of translation, or untranslatability. Meanwhile, scholars working in fields such as anthropology and science and technology studies have developed sophisticated conceptual repertoires for studying the generative powers of translation in its various guises. In this course we will examine the friction and productive sparks that emerge between these approaches. We will put theories of translation more familiar to students in literary studies (Benjamin, Jakobson, Derrida, de Man, Apter, Bhabha, Butler, Cassin, Spivak, Venuti) into conversation with approaches from the critical social sciences (Talal Asad, Bruno Latour, Michael Silverstein, Elizabeth Povinelli, Susan Gal, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro). Theoretical readings will be complemented with case studies that may include work by Michel Leiris, Yambo Ouologuem, Amos Tutuola, Mariama Bâ, Abdelfattah Kilito and Aimé Césaire. Reading knowledge of French will be helpful but not mandatory.

Spring 2020

Critical Theory 200B. Problems in Critical Theory
Joshua Clover


Critical Theory 200C. History of Critical Theory
Kris Fallon


STS  (Pre-Approved 200B Equivalent)
Tim Lenoir