Fall 2017

The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory will offer a series of public lectures on the history of critical theory. These lectures, each of which will be followed by open discussion, will take place on Tuesdays from 5:15-6:45pm in 1092 Lincoln Hall. The lectures are coordinated with graduate seminars on critical theory in a number of departments, but are also open to other faculty or graduate students who may wish to attend.

For more information, contact Susan Koshy, Alyssa Bralower, or Roman Friedman.

Students may wish to purchase the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Second Edition (2010).

NOTE: Participants who are not registered for one of the affiliated courses and who would like to read the supporting readings should email Roman Friedman (unitraroman@gmail.com).

Instruction begins: Monday, August 28


Week 1 (8/29): No Public Lecture, Labor Day, Monday, September 4


Week 2 (9/5): German Idealism, Helga Varden (Philosophy)

"Rethinking Kant on Sex, Love, and Gender"

"An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?" WE 8: 33-42. (In Practical Philosophy, transl./ed. Mary Gregor, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996: pp. 17-22.)

"On the Common Saying: That may be correct in theory, but is of no use in practice" TP 8: 273-341. (In Practical Philosophy, pp. 277-309)

The following selections from Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason:

"I. Concerning the Original Predisposition to Good in Human Nature,"

"II. Concerning the Propensity to Evil in Human Nature," and

"III. The Human Being is by Nature Evil Vitiis Nemo Sine Nascitur, Horace"

Rel. 6: 26-39. (In Religion and Rational Theology, transl./ed. by Allen W. Wood and George di Giovanni, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 74-89

Selection from Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View:  "B. The Character of the Sexes," A 7: 303-311. (In Anthropology, History, and Education, ed. Louden et al./transl. Gregor et al., New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007: pp. 399-407

Week 3 (9/12): Structuralism, Bob Parker (English)

Barthes, Roland. "The Death of the Author (1968)". Translated by Stephen Heath.

De Saussure, Ferdinand. "Course in General Linguistics (1916). Translated by Wade Baskin.

Jakobson, Roman. "The Metaphoric and Metonymic Poles (1956)" and "Linguistics and Poetics (1960)."

Parker, Robert Dale. "Structuralism." In How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies.

Propp, V. "Morphology of the Folktale (1928)."

Week 4 (9/19): Marx and Marxism, Emanuel Rota (Hist/French & Italian)

Gramsci, Antonio. "Caesarism" The Prison Notebooks: State and Civil Society.

Marx, Karl. Grundrisse (1857-61).

Week 5 (9/26): Psychoanalysis, Lilya Kaganovsky (Comparative and World Literature)

Freud, Sigmund. "Fetishism. (1927)".

---. "The Interpretation of Dreams."

---. "Preamble and Dream of July 23rd-24th, 1895 (Irma's Injection)".

---. "The Dream-Work."

---. "Some Psychological Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes".

Kristeva, Julia. "Approaching Abjection."

Lacan, Jacques. "The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason Since Freud".

---.  "The Mirror Stage".

Zizek, Slavoj. "The Seven Veils of Fantasy".

Week 6 (10/3): Deconstruction, Geoffrey Bennington (Emory)

Derrida, Jacques. “Semiology and Grammatology.” Interview with Julia Kristeva. Extract from Positions, trans. Bass, London: Athlone Press, 1981 (1972).

---.  Linguistics and Grammatology. From Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri C. Spivak. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1976. [p. 39-47 “The Hinge” is less important for lecture]

---.. “The Exorbitant. Question of Method.” From Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri C. Spivak. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1976.


Week 7 (10/10): Biopolitics, Richard C. Keller (U of Wisconsin, Madison)

Redfield, Peter. “Bioexpectation: Life Technologies as Humanitarian Goods,” Public Culture 24, no. 1 (2012): 157-84.

Willis, John M. “Governing the Living and the Dead: Mecca and the Convergence of the Saudi Biopolitical State,” American Historical Review (2017): 346-70.

Sanyal, Debarati. “Calais's 'Junge': Refugees, Biopolitics, and the Arts of Resistance,” Representations 139 (2017): 1-33.


Week 8 (10/17): Postcolonial Theory, Gaurav Desai (University of Michigan)

Editor's Column on "The End of Postcolonial Theory?" PMLA 122.3 (2007): 633–651.

Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 197-222.

Heise, Ursula. "Globality, Difference and the International Turn in Ecocriticism" PMLA 128.3 (2013): 636-643.

Suggested Reading:

Ghosh, Amitav. Part II “History.” The Great Derangement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. 86-115.


Week 9 (10/24): Indigenous Studies, Jenny L. Davis (Anthropology)

O'Brien, Jean. M. Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (2010), p.1-54 (Intro and Chapter 1 - Firsting) and p.105-144 (Chapter 3 - Lasting).


Week 10 (10/31): Critical Race Theory--”The Open Secret of Racial Capitalist Violence," Jodi Melamed (Marquette University)

Melamed, Jodi. "Racial Capitalism." Journal of Critical Ethnic Studies 1 (2015): 76-85.

Harney, Stefano, and Fred Moten. "Fantasy in the Hold." The Undercommons, Fugitive Planning & Black Study. NY: Minor Compositions, 2013: 84-100.

Clarno, Andy. "Neoliberal Colonization in the West Bank." Neoliberal Colonization in the West Bank." Social Problems, 2017, 0, 1-19. doi: 10.1093/socpro/spw055. Article.

Murakawa, Naomi. "The First Civil Right: Protection from Lawless Racial Violence." The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America. New York and London: Oxford UP, 2014: 1- 27.

Suggested Reading

Byrd, Jodi, Alyosha Goldstein, Jodi Melamed, and Chandan Reddy. "On Economies of Dispossession."  Economies of Dispossession: Indigeneity, Race, Capitalism, a special issue of Social Text. Forthcoming. Approx. 20 pages.


Week 11 (11/7): Ecocriticism, Jamie Jones (English)

Ursula Heise, “The Hitchhiker's Guide to Ecocriticism,” PMLA 121:2 (March 2006), 503-516.

LeMenager, Stephanie. “Ultradeep, Petroleum Culture in the American Century.”  Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (3-19 and 66-102), Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 3-19.

LeMenager, Stephanie. “The Aesthetics of Petroleum.” Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 66-102

Rob Nixon, “Slow Violence.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 26 June 2011, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Slow-Violence/127968


Week 12 (11/14): Visual Studies, Lisa Rosenthal (Art History)

W.T.J. Mitchell, “Showing Seeing: A Critique of Visual Culture,” Journal of Visual Culture 1:2 (2002) pp. 165-181.

Rebecca Zorach, “e 'Without Fear of Boarder Guaards'. The Renaissance of Visual.Culture,” in Barbara Baert, Ann-Sohie Lehmann, Jenke van den Akkerveken (eds.) New Perspectives in Iconology (Brussels: ASP Publishers, 2011) pp.. 23-41.

Pamela H. Smith, “Art, Science, and Visual Culture in Early Modern Europe,” Isis 97:1 (2006) pp. 83-100.

Keith Moxey, Visual Time (Durham/London: Duke University Press, 2013), chapter 4, "Visual Studies and the Iconic Turn,” pp. 53-75


Fall break, November 18-26


Week 13 (11/28): Queer Theory, Andrew Leong (Northwestern University)

Edelman, Lee. "The Future is Kid Stuff." No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. 1-31.

Muñoz, José Esteban. "Introduction" and "The Future is in the Present: Sexual Avant-Gardes and the Performance of Utopia." Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: NYU Press, 2009. 1-18; 49-63.

Suggested Reading:

Lisa Downing and Robert Gillett. "Georges Bataille at the Avant-Garde of Queer Theory?: Transgression, Perversion, and Death Drive." Nottingham French Studies: 50.3, (2011): 88-102.