Program Director: A. Kiarina Kordela (German Studies)
Program Co-Director: David Martyn (German Studies)
Steering Committee: Nathan Hensley (English), Joanna Inglot (Art History), David Moore (English/International Studies), Lara Nielsen (Theater and Dance), Khaldoun Samman (Sociology).
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.