About the Unit

Critical theory covers myriad practices that investigate the conditions and limits of knowledge, the structures of power and authority, the way societies relate past, present, and future, and the interaction between human and nonhuman worlds. Working across the boundaries between philosophy, law, theology, science, economics, literature, history, politics, and art, theorists strive to interpret the world and to change it. The task of theory is dual, to offer both an “explanatory-diagnostic” and “anticipatory-utopian” account of the world.

The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory is a lab for experiments in theory and interdisciplinarity across the humanities, social sciences, arts, and sciences. The Unit develops and explores new research fields like critical technology studies and new materialism; revises dominant theoretical paradigms like Marxism and feminism; and tests new modes of interdisciplinarity in responding to contemporary problems like unpayable debt, climate change, neoliberalism, and systemic racism.

The Unit’s fluid, shape-shifting capacity and insurgent energy stem from its discipline-crossing work and its protean constituency of faculty and students. With over 120 affiliated faculty and 250 graduate students from more than 50 departments across campus, the Unit provides students and faculty with crucial interdisciplinary vantage points for their teaching and research. The Unit organizes a variety of programs and activities including regular theory seminars for faculty and graduate students; lectures and roundtables; visits to campus by distinguished scholars from other universities; agenda-setting conferences; affiliated courses; and our blog Kritik. These events are often developed through Radical Collaborations (Radical ColLabs) formed among faculty and graduate students from different departments, who come together to explore a new field, investigate emergent formations, speculate about new models of reality, or imagine alternative social arrangements.

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