Contemporary Critical Theory

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Sunday 15 January 2023
Friday 24 March 2023
08 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

What is 'critical theory'? At one level, it is a tradition that can be traced back to 'Frankfurt School' thinkers such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. But the term has also come to be used more broadly, to encompass independent traditions of thought such as (certain strands within) feminism, anti-racism, post-colonialism, queer theory and critical pedagogy.

This course aims to give a 'critical' introduction to critical theory, paying attention both to some of its canonical thinkers as well as to wider currents of radical thought and politics, and asking: What does critical theory look like in the 21st century?

In 2022-23, our topic will be "Recognition." The theory of recognition has been a prominent form of critical theory since the publication of Axel Honneth's The Struggle for Recognition in 1992. We will study this landmark text together with other writings on recognition by Honneth and his critics and examine the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of recognition as a critical theory of society.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. to introduce students to key Frankfurt School thinkers such as Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, J├╝rgen Habermas or Axel Honneth;
2. to introduce students to historical and contemporary debates about the key concepts of that tradition;
3. to assess the extent to which the approaches developed by critical theorists can deliver convincing diagnoses of contemporary society.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module the student should have:

1. the ability to demonstrate good understanding of the central philosophical problems involved in constructing a critical theory of society;
2. the ability to explain the distinctive contributions that the Frankfurt school figures make to a critical theory of society;
3. the ability to reflect upon the role that the concept of recognition may have in articulating a critical theory of society;
4. the ability to articulate their own position regarding the value of the theories put forward by the thinkers studied.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

1 x 2 hour seminar each week for 9 weeks and 1 reading week with no seminars. Discussion will be encouraged throughout.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   4000 Word Essay    100% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Timo Juetten, email:



External examiner

Dr Alexander Golob
King's College London
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
18 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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