News Archive: 2019

Critical Theory Working Group, Fall 2019

The Program in Critical Theory is pleased to announce its Fall, 2019 working group, Theories of the Global South.  The co-conveners for the bi-weekly meetings are Donna Honarpisheh (Comparative Literature) and Devin Choudhury (Rhetoric). The Working Group is co-sponsored by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Theories of the Global South working group will aim to promote interdisciplinary inquiry into works of literature and film, critical theory, critical race studies, science and technology studies, and history produced in and with the Global South, with particular interest in texts that further understandings of decolonial methodologies and postcolonial ways of knowing. Each semester, the group will take on a series of pressing global questions–ethical, political, and aesthetic–and in doing so will draw from sources across disciplines, languages and regions. The group will examine the history of postcolonial theory, considering its root concerns of the limits of representation and knowledge production, critiques of the nation-state, and the transformation of life forms under colonial and postcolonial modernity; in this pursuit, we will also consider how the methods and questions of postcolonial theory have transformed in contemporary works, namely, how works of the Global South continue to grapple with the problems of state violence, global inequality, and environmental crises. In our method as well as our critical inquiries, we will reflect on varied imaginings of the world and the contemporary critiques and coalitions that emerge from these epistemological frameworks. In doing so, we will entangle ourselves in contemporary theory to explore and move towards a multi-epistemic world and a cosmo-political universe of co-existence and critical possibility.

Jacome, Rhadigan and Johnston Win Dissertation Awards

The Program in Critical Theory will support three Designated Emphasis students’ dissertation projects in 2019-2020. Veronica Jacome and Ryan Rhadigan will receive semester-long Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowships, while Taylor Johnston has won a Critical Theory Research Grant.

Support for this year’s awardees is generously provided by the Magistretti Graduate Fellowship Fund, through the UC Berkeley College of Letters and Sciences, the Dean of Arts and Humanities, and the Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science.

Veronica Jacome, Energy and Resources Group

Veronica Jacome

Veronica Jacome is a human geographer and Ph.D. Candidate with the Energy and Resources Group (ERG). She studies energy development and environmental justice through the lens of resource geography and political economy. Her dissertation investigates the presumptions and precarity imbedded in electricity systems today by applying critical theory, social science research methods, and electric power systems monitoring. Prior to joining ERG, Veronica served as the Director of Development for Imagine Science and Films, and taught A-level physics in Tanzania.

Chateaubriand Fellow, Art Rosenfeld Award, NSF Graduate Fellow, Foreign Language Academic Scholarship

Ryan Rhadigan, Rhetoric

Ryan Rhadigan

Ryan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Rhetoric with a designated emphasis in Critical Theory. He received an MA in American Indian Studies from UCLA. In 2017-2019 he was a graduate fellow at the UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. Ryan’s research combines methods from Native American and Indigenous studies, science and technology studies, and critical theory, in order to explore how archival technics shape Indigenous communities’ collective efforts to transform and democratize scientific practices. His dissertation project, “Salvage Constellations: The Archival Logics of Dispossession and Indigenous Recollection” investigates how Indigenous people in northern California are represented in ethnological archives, and how such archival entanglements work to consolidate, displace, and transduce present acts of cultural knowledge production and political exchange. 


Taylor Johnston, Comparative Literature

Taylor Johnston

Taylor Johnston is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature and an M.A. in English at UC Berkeley, where she works on postmodern and contemporary American fiction, the African-American novel, literary realism, and critical whiteness studies. Her recent work appears in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction (2017) and is forthcoming in Arizona Quarterly (2019). Her dissertation project, “Postmodern Realism and That Class Which is Not One”, explores the social and epistemological significance of realist description in white lower-middle-class fiction of the American seventies and eighties.

In the Department of Comparative Literature, she has taught nine courses on American and European literature and film, including two interdisciplinary Mellon-funded courses on the intersections of literature and live performance, a collaboration with Cal Performances.

Originally from San Diego, she received a B.A. in English and American Literature (2007) and an M.A. in Italian Studies (2010) from Middlebury College. Before beginning her graduate studies at Berkeley, she taught English at the Luca Pacioli Technical Institute in Lombardy (2007-8) and Italian at “La Scuola” International School, San Francisco (2008-12), as part of their early childhood education program.


The Program in Critical Theory is delighted to welcome twenty-one new students to the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. The new cohort includes graduate students from ten departments in the social sciences, humanities, and professional schools. These new admits bring the total number of Critical Theory DE students to approximately 125 (the largest such program at Berkeley).

  • Alejandra Rotondo, Anthropology
  • Alli Appelbaum, City and Regional Planning
  • Caroline Durlacher, German
  • Catherine Sulpizio, English
  • David Lau, Rhetoric
  • Gustavo Capela, Anthropology
  • John James, English
  • Joseph Serrano, English
  • Joshua Gregory, Social Welfare
  • Kyra Sutton, Rhetoric
  • Lindsay Choi, English
  • Mariagrazia De Luca, Italian Studies
  • Mehak Khan, English
  • Michele D’Aurizio, History of Art
  • Patrick Delehanty, English
  • Pê Feijó, Rhetoric
  • Robert Stahl, Anthropology
  • Sarah Hastings-Rudolph, French
  • Scott Cowan, Philosophy
  • Tulasi Johnson, History
  • Yael Plitmann, Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Congratulations, all!

CT Faculty Announce Fall 2019 Courses

CT faculty will be teaching seven Fall 2019 courses that count towards the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. These courses reflect the interdisciplinary breadth of the Program, with core and elective options in Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, Film, French, German, Education, and Spanish & Portuguese.

For more information on fall courses and the curricular requirements of the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, please visit our Courses page.

Fall 2019 Critical Theory Courses: CORE

  • Frankfurt School, New York School: Critical Aesthetics & Modern Poetry | Comparative Literature | Robert Kaufman
  • Freud and Lacan | Film | Mary Ann Doane
  • Critical Ethnic Studies without Guarantees: Thinking with Stuart Hall | Ethnic Studies | Keith Feldman

Fall 2019 Critical Theory Courses: ELECTIVE

  • Post-War Materialisms and the Concrete | Spanish & Portuguese | Nathaniel Wolfson
  • Image and Power | German | Tony Kaes
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature – The Nineteenth Century and ways of reading: Literature, social history, hermenueutics | French | Michael Lucey
  • Proseminar: Sociocultural Critique of Education | Education | Zeus Leonardo
  • Arts of the Self | French | Damon Young
  • Law and History Foundation Seminar | Law | Christopher Tomlins
  • Ruins of History | Rhetoric | Samera Esmeir, Stefan-Ludwig Hoffman


The Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship is awarded to Critical Theory Designated Emphasis (DE) graduate students with records of achievement and promising dissertation projects. The fellowship supports students writing their dissertations with up to $18,000 toward fees and stipend for a single semester of support.

Applications for the 2019-2020 Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship are due Friday, April 12, 2019, by 4 pm. Eligible students must be enrolled in the Critical Theory DE and not receive significant (non-teaching) financial support from their home departments during the period of the award. Applicants must have completed their Qualifying Exams and have an approved dissertation prospectus.

Application Guidelines

Applicants must submit a cover letter, a 2-3 page abstract of the dissertation, an academic CV, and a letter from the dissertation adviser evaluating the project’s promise. Applicants planning on having the prospectus approved by the end of May 2017 should explain this in the application cover letter and should have the dissertation director, in his or her letter, evaluate the draft or proposed prospectus and the likelihood of its approval.

The committee will have the option of splitting the award in order to support more students.  In view of this possibility, applicants should specify in the cover letter whether they would prefer to have the award in the fall or spring semester.

Completed applications, including all supporting materials, must be received by Friday, April 12, 2019, at 4 pm.

Please submit applications to

Deadline for applications: April 12, 2019, by 4 pm
Award Announced: May 2019
Award Period: July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020
Award Amount: Varies according to applicant pool and funds available.

The Dissertation Fellowship is open to Critical Theory students in UC Berkeley Departments including Anthropology, Boalt Law School, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, Ethnic Studies, Film & Media, French, Gender & Women’s Studies, German, Geography, History, History of Art, Italian, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Rhetoric, School of Education, School of Public Health, Sociology, South & Southeast Asian Studies, Spanish & Portuguese, and Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.