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About UCI Critical Theory

UCI Critical Theory is the institutional home for events, research, and study related to critical theory at the University of California, Irvine.

The committee for Critical Theory oversees the Critical Theory Emphasis. The Emphasis trains and certifies graduate students from across the campus—humanities, arts, social sciences, and beyond—in a variety of critical approaches. As part of CTE, we also run two annual mini-seminars, where established and up-and-coming scholars present, teach, and interact.

It might seem that critical theory, which often asks about the conditions of social life, is no longer necessary when society's crises are already on the surface. But if crises themselves require new ways of researching and teaching, critical theory offers an interdisciplinary space in which study can be reorganized without the pressure to produce an immediate impact. Historical examples of this kind of reorganization include Marx's critique of political economy following the failure of social movements in the 1840s; a newly intense focus on mass media in 20th century Europe during and after the rise of German fascism; and U.S. students' creation of ethnic studies and gender studies programs in the 1960's. Ultimately, what counts as critical and what counts as theory itself changes with each realization of social need. Critical Theory at Irvine aims to be an open space for meeting and writing in which, through collective thought, undergraduates can participate in the formation of the future curriculum as much as professors can; where graduate students can work across disciplines, even as their home department may lie in one; and where critical theory pursues its own unlimited change.

Rei Terada