Contemporary Critical Theory
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
20 October 2023
Requisites for this module
MA VL5212 Social and Political Thought
This module 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?
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.
The aims of this module are:
- To introduce students to key thinkers in contemporary critical theory.
- To introduce students to historical and contemporary debates about the key concepts of that tradition.
- To assess the extent to which the approaches developed by critical theorists can deliver convincing diagnoses of contemporary society.
By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:
- Demonstrate good understanding of the central philosophical problems involved in constructing a critical theory of society.
- Explain the distinctive contributions that the Frankfurt school figures make to a critical theory of society.
- Reflect upon the role that the concept of recognition may have in articulating a critical theory of society.
- Articulate their own position regarding the value of the theories put forward by the thinkers studied.
No additional information available.
This module will be delivered via:
- One 2-hour seminar per week.
- One reading week with no seminars.
Discussion will be encouraged throughout.
Habermas, J. (2014) ‘Technology and Science as “Ideology”’, in Toward a Rational Society
. Hoboken: Wiley, pp. 33–44. Available at: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1101360&site=ehost-live&ebv=EK&ppid=Page-__-33
Habermas, J. and Outhwaite, W. (1996) ‘Chapters 25: “Uncoupling System and Lifeworld”; Chapter 26: “Marx and the Thesis of Internal Colonization” of the’, in The Habermas Reader. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Foucault, M. and Rabinow, P. (1984b) ‘“The Carceral”, “Space, Knowledge and Power”, ‘We “Other Victorians”’, ‘The Repressive Hypothesis”’, in The Foucault Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Foucault, M. and Rabinow, P. (1984c) ‘“What is Enlightenment?” “Truth and Power”, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”,’ in The Foucault Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Kelly, M. (1994a) ‘Chapter 2: Foucault, “Two Lectures”’, in Critique and Power: Recasting the Foucault/Habermas Debate. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Kelly, M. (1994b) ‘Chapter 3: Habermas, “The Critique of Reason as an Unmasking of the Human Sciences: Michel Foucault”’, in Critique and Power: Recasting the Foucault/Habermas Debate. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Kelly, M. (1994c) ‘Chapter 4: Habermas “Some questions concerning the theory of power: Foucault again”’, in Critique and power: recasting the Foucault/Habermas debate. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Nancy Fraser (1985) ‘Michel Foucault: A “Young Conservative”?’, Ethics
, 96(1), pp. 165–184. Available at: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/292729
Charles Taylor (1984) ‘Foucault on Freedom and Truth’, Political Theory
, 12(2), pp. 152–183. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/191359
Kelly, M. (1994d) ‘Chapter 5: Foucault, “Critical History/Intellectual History”’, in Critique and power: Recasting the Foucault/Habermas Debate. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Foucault, M. and Rabinow, P. (1984a) ‘Foucault, ‘Politics and Ethics: An Interview’ , pp. 373-380.’, in The Foucault Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Rancière, J. (1999a) ‘Chapter 2: Wrong: Politics and Police’, in Disagreement: politics and philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Rancière, J. (1999b) ‘Chapter 3: The Rationality of Disagreement’, in Disagreement: politics and philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Rancière, J. (1999c) ‘Chapter 5: Democracy or Consensus’, in Disagreement: politics and philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Rancière, J. (2006) ‘Chapter 3: Democracy, Republic, Representation’, in Hatred of democracy
. London: Verso. Available at: https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/universityofessex-ebooks/detail.action?docID=5177123
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||4000 Word Essay
Exam format definitions
- Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
- In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary,
for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.
Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Steven Gormley, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHAIS Postgraduate Queries: email@example.com
Dr Alexander Golob
King's College London
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).
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