Introduction to European Critical Theory

Subject 116-452 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbookSearch for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2008.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: .
Prerequisites: For third year: Successful completion of 116133 French Language and Culture 1B or equivalent. For fourth year: Admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in French. European Studies students wishing to enrol in this subject would normally have completed 37.5 points of second/third-year European Studies.
Corequisites: .
Recommended Background Knowledge: .
Non Allowed Subjects: .
Core Participation Requirements: .


Dr J Anderson & Assoc Prof A Lewis
Subject Overview:

This subject provides an introduction to major figures in European critical theory who came into international prominence in the 20th century such as Habermas, Adorno, Bakhtin, Benjamin, Luhmann, Iser, Foucault, Derrida, Barthes, Kristeva, Irigaray, Deleuze, Lacan and Baudrillard. It will survey the work of the German Frankfurt school and their interrogation of the relationship of aesthetics to politics in response to fascism and communism. It will continue with an exploration of major contributions of postwar French theorists who launch a full-scale questioning of meaning and representation. In these works, reference becomes infinitely deferred, meaning plural; the author or individual speaking subject is no longer the sole source of meaning and the world is mediatised. A particular focus will be the later Derrida, and issues such as memory, forgiveness, reconciliation, sovereignty and post 9/11 terrorism. On completion of this subject, students will have gained a critical understanding of the fundamental concepts and movements which have shaped critical thought and debate in the social sciences and humanities. They will be guided in the elaboration of their own research project, applying critical theory to a work of their choice. This subject is taught in English by specialists. It is based on the study of texts in the original language.

Assessment: Written work totalling 5000 words: a 30-minute class paper of 1500 words 35% (written version due one week after presentation), a 3000-word essay (2000 words for third year students) 45% (due one week after the end of semester), and brief presentations on key issues for discussion (using net resources) totalling 500 words 20% (due at regular intervals during the semester).
Prescribed Texts: Materials supplied by the School in a course reader
Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • apply certain methods of criticism on literary texts taken from a range of genres;

  • elaborate their own research project, applying literary criticism to a work of their choice.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Arts (French)
Postgraduate Certificate in Arts (French)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (French)

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