News Archive: 2017

The Program in Critical Theory Welcomes Sixteen New Designated Emphasis Students

In the fall of 2017 sixteen UC Berkeley graduate students from ten departments across the social sciences and humanities will join the Designated Emphasis (DE) in Critical Theory. The students, and their respective home departments, are:

Spencer Adams, Rhetoric
Bruno Anaya Ortiz, Rhetoric
Beth Bird, Film and Media
Nate Cohan, English
Brent Eng, Anthropology
Jesús Gutierrez, Anthropology
Paul Hoehn, German
Veronica Jacome, Energy and Resources Group
Riad Kherdeen, History of Art
Jaeyoon Park, Political Science
Kyle Ralston, Comparative Literature
Maia Rodriguez, English
Miranda Smith, Sociology
Kevin Stone, Comparative Literature
Jonas Teupert, German
Adrian Wilson, Anthropology

Critical Theory faculty and students are excited to work with the new cohort, and look forward to their future contributions to the program.

The DE in Critical Theory promotes the interdisciplinary study of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century notions of critique; of the Frankfurt School and other twentieth-century currents of critical theory and philosophy; and of contemporary forms and modes of critical theory. It enables graduate students already enrolled in UC Berkeley Ph.D. programs from across the social sciences, arts, and humanities to obtain certification of a Designated-Emphasis specialization in Critical Theory. Students admitted to the DE who complete its requirements will receive a parenthetical notation to that effect on their doctoral degrees. The Critical Theory Program offers graduate fellowships, hosts international scholars, and presents lectures, seminars, and other events for the wider campus community and local public. It also maintains important collaborative relations with other critical theory institutes and programs nationally and internationally.

UC Berkeley Launches the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs

In December 2016, UC Berkeley received a three-and-a-half year, $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP). The task of this international consortium is to document, connect, and support the new and varied forms that critical theory has assumed in light of contemporary global challenges, including challenges to the university as an institution charged with the task of safeguarding and promoting critical thought. The Consortium is co-directed by Professor Judith Butler (UC Berkeley) and Professor Penelope Deutscher (Northwestern University).

Located in the Program in Critical Theory at UC Berkeley, the Consortium maintains a multi-lingual website that provides information on critical theory programs and initiatives throughout the world, seeking to connect programs and projects that have for too long remained unknown to one another. The Consortium will also publish a book series, Critical South, with Polity Press and an online journal called Critical Times, and will convene biannual conferences focused on contemporary critical issues of global concern such as violence, memory, democracy, and the critical tasks of the university. As well, the Consortium will expand the Critical Theory Archive at the UC Irvine to more fully represent the global scope of the field. The Consortium also invites international scholars to engage with faculty and students on the UC Berkeley campus. Under the direction of Northwestern University, a curricular initiative of the Consortium, Critical Theory in the Global South, will develop new teaching curricula reflective of critical theory’s global reach in conjunction with an associated program of international graduate student exchange.

With all of these initiatives, the Consortium seeks to establish the new global contours of Critical Theory today, supporting critical thought both inside and outside the university, and seeking collaborative ways to become more responsive to pressing global challenges. The Consortium seeks both to preserve and to galvanize the study of critical theory in its myriad global forms, underscoring the crucial place of critical thought in the university and in its various public lives. The Consortium aims to incite new forms of collaborative research among a wide range of regions and languages, connecting the disconnected and foregrounding the periphery in an effort to respond critically to contemporary challenges to critical thinking, including neoliberal metrics and forms of normalization that suppress or devalue the critical and transformative potential of thought itself.

For more information, please contact  info.ictconsortium@berkeley.edu.

Announcing Critical Theory in Times of Crisis | 2016-2017 Working Group Series

The term critique derives from the Greek krísis, whose semantic range includes “turning point,” a “decision or judgment,” and the act of separating or distinguishing, underscoring both the evental character of critique and its diagnostic function. Critical Theory itself evinces this relation: Frankfurt School thought emerged as a response to historical crisis. Likewise, contemporary forms of critical theory from critical race theory to eco-criticism respond to crises but also produce an undoing of the status quo. Today it seems we are living in a time of multiplying catastrophes: the refugee, economic, and environmental crises, and an emerging threat of neo-nationalist or neo-fascist movements. Against this backdrop, Critical Theory in Times of Crisis is interested in exploring the relations of crisis and critique: How can we define the liaison between the world-historical and critical practices? How does critical theory both respond to crises and grow away from them? What forms does it recuperate or invent? What is the temporality of critique? Is critique always retrospective and belated, or can it be simultaneous or even anticipatory? How can critique inform or produce action—be it aesthetic or political? These questions will allow us to think about the relational existence of crisis and critique in its various spatial, temporal, and historical moments.

To register and receive readings, please contact critical_theory@berkeley.edu.

Organized by Critical Theory D.E. student Christopher P. Scott through the Program in Critical Theory.