headshot of Professor Ruggles in Delphi 2022

As the Director of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory I am delighted to welcome you to the 2023-24 year of lectures, reading groups, symposia, and events. The Unit continues the tradition of thoughtful conversations and scholarship that previous directors have fostered.

A center for humanistic inquiry, the Unit grew out of the collective need for theorization about our work and thinking deeply about the political implications of such theory. If the task was urgent when the Unit was formed four decades ago, it remains so, as the fields of inquiry have changed. Ideas that arose from the margins for the purpose of challenging the supposed neutrality of the center have now become institutionalized such that they invite a new form of dismantling, deconstructing, and decolonizing. We can now look at how radically innovative questions about gender, race, and representation (among others) have produced new questions about the body, the environment, and materiality. These are but some of the ideas that the Unit will explore in the Modern Critical Theory lecture series, held on Tuesday evenings in the fall semester. To encourage stimulating conversations and intellectual community, the MCT lectures are live and in person (please check the calendar for the venues). As always, each lecture will be followed by a student response, posted in Kritik, the Unit’s blog.

Throughout the year, the Unit is organizing Critical Book Labs for UIUC faculty. The CBLs provide a critical reading of a book manuscript prior to publication. 

In organizing the events for 2023-24, the Unit is looking ahead to the following year. Do you have good ideas for speakers and themes? I welcome your suggestions.