Graduate Courses with a focus on Critical Theory and Thought

We encourage graduate students to consider the Graduate Certificate in Critical Theory, administered through the Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures. Faculty affiliated with the Center offer graduate courses incorporating critical theory in their home units. We list some of those courses below, but this is not an exhaustive list.

GRMN 5051 Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School

Serves as an introduction to the "Frankfurt School" and Critical Theory with particular emphasis upon rationality, social psychology, cultural criticism, and aesthetics. Through close readings of key texts by members of the school (Adorno, Benjamin, Horkheimer, Marcuse etc.) we will work toward a critical understanding of the analytical tools they developed and consider their validity. Required course for the Critical Theory Certificate.

ANTH 7000.005 Empire Seminar: Colonialism, Postcolonial Theory, and Decolonizing Anthropology – Carole McGranahan

Is it possible to understand the contemporary world without reference to empire? This seminar starts from the premise that it is not, that a history of the present requires attention to the colonial and postcolonial, as well as the imperial and still-imperial aspects of the world. In this seminar we will read broadly and deeply in the interdisciplinary Colonial Studies, Postcolonial Theory, and Settler Colonialism literatures considering a global range of imperial formations of and well beyond classic European empires. We will consider both the anthropology of empire, as well as anthropology as empire, including what a decolonized anthropology might look like. In line with this, an important portion of this class will be devoted to public anthropology, that is conducting our anthropology in public, for all to read and engage with. Learning how to be respectful in spaces long colonized, and to do the intellectual, community, and practice work to decolonize such spaces will be an integral part of this seminar. 

ARSC 5040.001 Ethnographic Methods: A Mini-Course – Carole McGranahan

What is ethnography and what are ethnographic methods? In this mini-course, students will be introduced to ethnography as both a way of knowing and as something to know, and to ethnographic methods as a field-based practice. Topics covered will include ethnographic sensibilities, theory, writing, and hands-on participant-observation. 

LAWS 8455-801 Seminar: Gender & Criminal Justice

Explores the intersection of gender and criminal justice in such areas as police and prosecutorial discretion, the investigation and prevention of crimes, the definition of offenses and defenses, factors contributing to criminality, criminal sentencing and the experience of punishment, and the societal ramifications of incarcerating children's caregivers.

GRMN 5030 Foundations of Critical Theory – every Fall term

An introductory study of nineteenth-century German philosophy (from Kant, Hegel, Marx to Nietzsche and Freud). Required course for the graduate certificate in Critical Theory.

ANTH 7000 Ethnography and/as Theory – Carole McGranahan

What is the ethnographic? How do we practice and write ethnography? In this seminar, we will look beyond ethnography as method to consider ethnography as theory. Ethnographic knowledge is both epistemology and ontology, a way of knowing and a way of being. It is experiential, embodied, and empathetic, and is the foundation of field efforts to arrive at—as Clifford Geertz so famously stated in 1973—how people collectively explain themselves…to themselves. It is through ethnography that we can get to “where true life and real lives meet.” Ethnography is excessive and it is messy, but so is life. Our goal in ethnographic research is to get to this excess and messiness, to the lived expectations, complexities, contradictions, and possibilities of any given cultural group. In this seminar, we will explore ethnographic theory through reading widely across contemporary anthropological ethnography.