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Program Overview

Critical theory involves the attempt to better understand power, conflict and crisis, and to achieve change, emancipation, or distance from the beliefs, presuppositions, forces, forms, conventions, conditions, assemblages, and institutions of human life.

Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences offers a minor in critical theory, an interdisciplinary program of study enabling undergraduates to acquire understanding of critical theory's many dimensions and fields of application. It aims to give students a chance to develop their interests in various dimensions of critical theory, with particular emphasis on literary theory, continental philosophy, and political theory. Requirements for the minor can be found here.

For more information about the minor, contact our Director of Undergraduate Studies. Undergraduates can also participate in several of Northwestern’s study abroad programs. For more information contact Michael Loriaux.

Graduate students in relevant fields can participate in Northwestern's Interdisciplinary Cluster in Critical Theory. Graduate students in all department and programs at Northwestern can also complete courses towards the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Critical Theory. The cluster provides a thorough introduction to critical theory through a structured, interdepartmental curriculum. Exposure to critical theory is highly recommended for students of literature, philosophy, politics, culture, the visual arts, gender and race studies, rhetoric, and society in our post-colonial, post-modern world. Northwestern also offers the Paris Program in Critical Theory, which affords up to five advanced graduate students, from a wide variety of disciplines, a unique opportunity to spend one year in Paris familiarizing themselves with French and European theoretical research. A new, alternate stream has also been introduced, named the Graduate Certificate in Critical Theory (Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main Exchange Program). It may be completed through 3 courses undertaken at Northwestern and the remainder at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. For further information contact Mark Alznauer

Contact Peter Fenves for information about the graduate certificate in Critical Theory. 

Contact Ann Kelchner for information about possible funding assistance, which may be available to Critical Theory graduate affiliates delivering papers at relevant conferences. More information on funding opportunities can be found here.