The Modern Critical Theory Lecture Series

Fall 2018

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 1090 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 KoshyAlyssa Bralower, or Sarah Richter.

Students may wish to purchase the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Third Edition (2018).

NOTE: Participants who are not registered for one of the affiliated courses and who would like to read the supporting readings should email Alyssa Bralower (

Week 1 (8/28): No Public Lecture 

Week 2 (9/4): German Idealism
Lecture: Helga Varden, Philosophy, UIUC


1. Hobbes, Thomas: Excerpts from Leviathan (ed. Richard Tuck, Cambridge Univeristy Press, 1996).

  • Ch.13: "Of the Natural Condition of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery," pp. 86-90
  • Ch. 14 (excerpt): "Of the first and second Natural Lawes, and of Contracts," pp. 91-92
  • Ch. 17: "Of Commonwealth," pp. 117-121.

2. Locke, John: Excerpt from Two Treatises of Government (ed. Peter Laslett, Cambridge University Press, 1988).

  • Ch. 2 "Of the State of Nature," p. 269-278.

3. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: Excerpt from The Social Contract and Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men, in Basic Political Writings (ed. Donald A. Cress, Hackett Publishing Company, 2012).

  • Discourse, Part 2, app. 69-75
  • The Social Contract: ch. 1-7, 156-165

4. Kant, Immanuel: "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.)

5. Kant, Immanuel: Excerpts from The Metaphysics of Morals

  • paragraphs 1-5 (pp. 401-403/6: 245-249)
  • paragraph 10 (pp. 411-413/6: 258-260)
  • paragraph 41-5 (pp.450-457/6:305-314)

Week 3 (9/11): Structuralism  
Lecture: Jeff Martin, Anthropology, UIUC


1. Saussure, Ferdinand. 1916 Course in General Linguistics (selections).

2. Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1966. The Savage Mind. Chs. 1 & 2 "Science of the Concrete," and "The Logic of Totemic Classifications," (pp. 1-74).


1. Ortner, Sherry. 1974. "Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?" in M. Z. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere (eds) Women, Culture, and Society. Standford, CA: Stanford UP, pp. 68-87.

2. Gleick, James. 2011. The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. NY: Vintage. (especially Chs 7 & 8, pp. 204-268)

3. Wilcken, Patrick. 2010. Claude Levi-Strauss: The Father of Modern Anthropology. NY: Penguin. (especially Chs 4 & 5, pp. 115-201)

Week 4 (9/18): Psychoanalysis
Lecture: Rob Rushing, French & Italian


1. Freud, Sigmund. "Fetishism."

2. Freud, Sigmund. Selections from "The  Uncanny."

3. Freud, Sigmund. "Some Psychological Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes."

4. Lacan, Jacques. "The Mirror Stage." In Écrits: A Selection, translated by Alan Sheridan, Routledge, 2001, pp. 1-6. 

5. Žižek, Slavoj. "Courtly Love, or Woman as a Thing." In The Žižek Reader, edited by Elisabeth Wright and Edmond Wright, Blackwell, 1989, pp. 148-173.

Week 5 (9/25): Marx & Marxism 

Lecture: Brian Jefferson, Geography, UIUC


Week 6 (10/2): Deconstruction
Lecture: Geoffrey Bennington, French & Italian, Emory

"Politics in Deconstruction"


1. Derrida, Jacques. "Declarations of Independence." In Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971-2001. Edited and translated by Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford UP, 2002), pp. 46-54. 

2. Derrida, Jacques. Rogues: Two Essays on Reason (selections). Translated by Anne Brault Pascale and Michael Nass (Stanford UP, 2005).

Week 7 (10/9): Biopolitics
Lecture: Jana Sawicki, Philosophy, Williams


1. Foucault, Michel. 1976. "Society Must be Defended": Lectures at the College de France, 1975-76, translated by David Macey, Picador, 1997, pp. 239-263.

2. Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction, translated by Robert Hurley, Vintage Press, 1978, pp. 135-39.

3. Foucault, Michel. 1978. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977-78, translated by Graham Burchell, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, pp. 1-27..


1. Deutscher, Penelope. "Foucault's Children." In Foucault's Futures: A Critique of Reproductive Reason, Columbia University Press, 2017, pp. 71-104.

2. Stoler, Ann Laura. "A Colonial Reading of Foucault." In Biopower: Foucault and Beyond, edited by Vernon Casey and Nicolae Morar Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power, University of Chicago Press, 2016, pp. 326-347.

3. Lemke, Thomas. Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction. Translated by Eric Frederick Trump, New York University Press, 2011, pp. 33-52.

Week 8 (10/16): Postcolonial Theory
Lecture: Shona Jackson, English, Texas A&M


1. Wynter, Sylvia. "Unparalleled Catastrophe for Our Species? Or, to Give Humanness a Different Future: Conversations." In Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis, edited by Katherine McKittrick, Duke University Press, 2015, pp. 9-89.

Week 9 (10/23): Critical Race Theory
Lecture: Kathryn Sophia Belle, Philosophy, Penn State


1. Gines, Kathryn T. "Black Feminism and Intersectional Analyses: A Defense of Intersectionality." Philosophy Today (2001): 275-84.

2. Gines, Kathryn T. Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question, Indiana University Press, 2014, chapter 4, pp. 77-92. 

3.  Gines, Kathryn T. "Reflections on the Legacy and Future of the Continental Tradition with Regard to the Critical Philosophy of Race." Southern Journal of Philosophy, 50.2 (2012): 329-44.

Week 10 (10/30): Indigenous Studies
Lecture: Nicholas Estes, American Studies, University of Mexico


1. Denetdale, Jennifer Nez. "No Explanation, No Resolution, and No Answers": Border Town Violence and Navajo Resistance to Settler Colonialism." Wicazo Sa Review, vol. 31 no. 1, 2016, pp. 111-131. Project MUSE,

2. Simpson, Audra. "The State is a Man: Theresa Spence, Loretta Saunders and the Gender of Settler Sovereignty." Theory & Event, vol. 19 no. 4, 2016. Project MUSE,

3. Stark, Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik. "Criminal Empire: The Making of the Savage in a Lawless Land." Theory & Event, vol. 19 no. 4, 2016. Project MUSE,

4. Grande, Sandy. (2013). "Accumulation of the Primitive: The Limits of Liberalism and the Politics of Occupy Wall Street," Settler Colonial Studies, 3:3-04, 369-380, doi:10.1080/2201473X.2013.810704.

5. Anderson, William C. and Zoé Samudzi. Chapter 2, "What Lands on US." In As Black as Resistance, AK Press, 2018, pp. 21-50. 

Week 11 (11/6): Feminist Theory
Lecture: Lisa Rosenthal, Art History, UIUC


1. Scott, Joan W. "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," American Historical Review 91:5 (1986) pp. 1053-1075.

2. Mulvey, Laura. "Visual.Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," Screen 16.3 (1975) pp. 6-18.

3. Pollock, Griselda. Differencing the Canon: Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art's Histories (Routledge, 1999) Chapter 2, pp. 23-38.

4. Lichtenstein, Jacqueline. "Making Up Representation: The Risks of Feminitiy," Representations 20 (1987) pp. 77-87.

Week 12 (11/13): Queer Theory
Lecture: Ghassan Moussawi, GWS/Sociology, UIUC


1. Cohen, Cathy. 1997. "Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?" GLQ (3): 437-485.

2. From: The GLQ Archive. 2003. “New Directions in Multi-ethnic, Racial, and Global Studies,” GLQ 10 (1).
Only: Sharon Holland "The Question of Normal" (pp. 128-131) and Jose Quiroga "From Republic to Empire: The Loss of Gay Studies" (pp. 133-135).

3. Eng, David L., Jack Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz. 2005. Introduction: What's Queer About Queer Studies Now?" Social Text 23 (3-4): 1-17.

4. Halberstam, J. 2005. "Shame and White Gay Masculinity." Social Text (3-4): 219-233.


1. Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality: Volume 1, pp. 1-15.

Fall Break (11/20 no lecture)

Week 13 (11/27): Ecocriticism
Lecture: Gillen Wood, English/ISEE, UIUC


1. Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism, Routledge, 2004, ch. 1&2.

2. Chakrabarty, Dipesh. "The Climate of History: Four Theses," Critical Inquiry 35.2 (Winter 2009): 197-222.

3. LeMenager, Stephanie. Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (Oxford, 2016), Introduction.

4. Wood, Gillen. "Foreword" to Literature and Sustainability: Concept, Text, and Culture, ed. Adeline Johns-Putra (Manchester, 2017).