The Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory permits interested students to specialize in critical theory, and to obtain certification of this specialization, while pursuing a Ph.D in an established UC Berkeley Department. Critical Theory is not an independent degree granting program. Students admitted to the DE and completing the requirements will receive a parenthetical notation to that effect on their doctoral degrees.
Critical Theory is typically associated with the work of the Frankfurt School, and that tradition of theory figures significantly in the DE curriculum. However, the program at Berkeley broadens and extends the meaning of critical theory to include nineteenth century philosophers of critique, on the one hand, and contemporary critical theoretical work on culture, religion, nationalism, postnationalism, identity and capitalism, on the other. Above all, Critical Theory at Berkeley emphasizes the centrality of theoretical critique to the examination of contemporary values, conflicts among schemes of values, the powers that organize political, social, cultural and economic life, and modes of justification and legitimation for cultural inquiry and political analysis.
Concretely, the DE in Critical Theory aims to offer students 1) grounding in the notion of critique in 19th-century social theory and philosophy (Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, among others), 2) grounding in the critical theoretical work of the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Benjamin, among others), and 3) contemporary engagement with key elements of these traditions in relation to other histories and locations including post-continental critical theory, critical legal theory, feminism as critique, critical race theory, and formations of critique within structuralist and poststructuralist thought.
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