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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Philosophy

Degree Programs

Department of Philosophy

Critical Theory

Critical Theory at DU

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Denver offers an undergraduate specialization in Critical Theory for DU students. Our critical theory curriculum consists in graduate and undergraduate courses taught by faculty across the Humanities, including Philosophy, Communications, Religious Studies, English, Economics, Emergent Digital Practices, and Gender & Women’s Studies. The Critical Theory Specialization at DU hosts international scholars, presents public lectures, seminars, and other events open to the wider university and public. AHSS also offers fellowships to both faculty and graduate students to fund summer study at The School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University; all AHSS faculty and graduate students may apply.          

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Want to declare Critical Theory as your specialization? Download and return this form to the Assistant to the Chair in Sturm 266.

What is Critical Theory? 

Critical theory seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them,” as Max Horkheimer writes. The concept of critique begins with the work of 18th and 19th century philosophers Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, and Karl Marx, but was taken up in the 1920s by the Frankfurt School and expanded as a critique of cultural capitalism, fascism, and the repression of desire. Critical theory was taken up again by later 20th century French theorists following similar and expanded aims. Today, critical theory has become even more broad in scope and includes a range of topical critiques of racial, gendered, and colonial power structures. 

Three Major Areas of Critical Theory

The specialization in Critical Theory within the Department of Philosophy at DU requires students to take at least one course in these three major areas of critical theory at the undergraduate or graduate level. The Department of Philosophy offers the Critical Theory Colloquium once a year.

19th Century Critical Theory

  • Freud
  • Hegel
  • Kant
  • Marx
  • Nietzsche

20th Century Critical Theory

  • Adorno
  • Agamben
  • Badiou
  • Benjamin
  • Butler
  • Deleuze
  • Derrida
  • Du Bois
  • Fanon
  • Foucault
  • Gramsci
  • Hall
  • Horkheimer
  • Irigaray
  • Kristeva
  • Lacan
  • Lukcas
  • Marcuse
  • Ranciere
  • Wynter

Contemporary Topics in Critical Theory

  • Critical Literature Theory
  • Critical Race and Post-Colonial Theory
  • Feminist Theory
  • Queer Theory
  • Structuralism and Post-Structuralism