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First Year Focus

Welcome! We are glad you stopped by and are interested in the Critical Theory Minor. The Critical Theory Program is a diverse, interdisciplinary minor program for undergraduate students that provides the opportunity for ideas to be exchanged among disciplines, as well as graduate and undergraduate students and faculty. 

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Why Learn About Critical Theory?

Over the past three decades, the term "critical theory" has come to designate, particularly in the United States, a type of study that cuts across disciplines to examine the premises, concepts, and categories that structure academic discourse in areas such as literary studies, art history, film studies, history, philosophy, and political theory, to name just a few. Critical theory is therefore not limited to a particular field or even to specific content; it is involved wherever methods, concepts, and social formations are not simply taken for granted but subjected to systematic and rigorous critical reflection.

The minor in Critical Theory offers the opportunity for undergraduate students to develop their ability to question the world in which they live and formulate theoretically nuanced responses to the problems that define our historical moment. 

What Does the Critical Theory Program Offer?

The Critical Theory Program offers a minor for undergraduate students. The minor consists of 6-units and can be a complement to any major at Northwestern. We offer a list of pre-approved courses each quarter, that include courses from African American Studies, Art History, Comparative Literary Studies, English, German, Philosophy, Political Science and Religious Studies.

Through the undergraduate-initiated and organized Critical Theory Research Workshop, the minor benefits from an active research culture. The Research Workshop is a forum for undergraduate and graduate students to share ideas and engage in the concepts of critical theory.

Northwestern’s International Program Development (IPD) office offers a study abroad program that provides students the opportunity to study at two of the most prestigious institutions in Paris, and with scholars in the field. Art, Literature, and Contemporary European Thought is an excellent study abroad program for students interested in critical theory.

What Are Good Courses for First-Year Students?

Each year, the program posts pre-approved courses that can count toward the minor. You can find the list of courses for the year here.

An excellent course (and required for the minor) to begin your journey as a minor in Critical Theory is:

  • PHIL 220/COMP_LIT 207: Intro to Critical Theory: This course provides students with an introduction to the revolutionary forms of philosophical, social, and literary criticism pioneered by Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. Please consult CAESAR to find out when this course is offered

What Can I Do After Graduation?

A minor in Critical Theory provides a unique set of skills that can be applicable to any job in any field. The minor is a wonderful complement to any field in the social sciences and humanities

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