WGSS 322
Introduction to Critical Theory: The Enlightenment and Its Critics Spring 2023
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed PHIL 321 / WGSS 322

Class Details

We often associate modern faith in the prospects of universal human dignity, rational autonomy, the rights of man, individual liberty, democracy, open scientific inquiry and social and political progress with the Enlightenment . How can we reconcile this faith with the persistence of domination today? Critical theory aims not merely to understand the “struggles and wishes of the age” as Marx one described it, but with emancipation from domination. Understood in this way, critical theory is identified closely with the intellectual tradition of the Frankfurt School. In this tutorial, will read works in critical theory from the 18th century to the present, some from the Frankfurt tradition, and some not. We will focus on particular topics, examples of which are the following: normative critique, capitalism, authoritarianism, mass culture, enlightenment and reason, progress, violence, the domination of nature, white supremacy, patriarchy and colonialism.
The Class: Format: tutorial; students will work in pairs and meet for 75 minutes each week with the professor
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3324
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Each student will write and present a 5 or 6-page paper every other week and a commentary on their partner's essay on alternate weeks; evaluations are based on written work as well as level of preparation and the quality of intellectual engagement in tutorial meetings
Prerequisites: PHIL 202, Kant course, modern political theory, or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Philosophy majors and students with background in modern political theory, or other relevant demonstrated background.
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PHIL 321 Division II WGSS 322 Division II
WS Notes: The tutorial format requires significant writing (six 2500-3000 word papers, and six 1000-1250 word commentaries), weekly commentary on writing, and instructor comments on papers.
DPE Notes: In this course power, difference, domination and the prospects of and obstacles to liberatory political struggle are central topics.
Attributes: PHIL History Courses
WGSS Theory Courses

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