English CRI 200A - Fall, 2017

Class Information

Instructor: Menely, Tobias
Time: M 12:10-3:00
Location: 308 Voorhies


    Etymologically, to theorize means to look contemplatively, to examine from a distance, to speculate. To be a theorist, for the Greeks, is to stand apart and consider, whether one is viewing the stage, the stars, or the underlying forms of things. Critique, by contrast, assumes an active and invested relation to a determinate historical situation. Modern criticism developed, Terry Eagleton suggests, in bourgeois opposition to the absolutist state. Critical theory, then, is defined by a constitutive tension between two imperatives: to contemplate, tarrying with the negative and the abstract, and to judge, as an intervention in structures of power. This seminar will survey modern critical theory, emphasizing links between foundational texts and current debates in the critical and speculative Humanities, particularly as scholars are drawing on, and reworking, canonical critical theory in response to the economic, political, and ecological crises of the twenty-first century.

    In addition to weekly discussion posts, there will be one conference-length (12- to 15-page) essay due at the end of the quarter.


    Weekly discussion posts, participation, final essay


    How Forests Think, Eduardo Kohn
    The Political Unconscious, Fredric Jameson
    Energy Dreams, Michael Marder
    Course Reader (Online)