News Archive: 2021

DESIGNATED EMPHASIS APPLICATION DEADLINE, March 17

Applications to the DE in Critical Theory are due Thursday, March 17, by 4 pm. All students enrolled in PhD programs at UC Berkeley who have not already taken the QE are eligible to apply. To learn more about the application process and access application forms, please visit the academics webpage.

Join the Program in Critical Theory faculty and students for the Designated Emphasis Open House on February 22 for a panel discussion and Q&A about the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. All UC Berkeley PhD students interested in applying to the DE are invited to attend.

Please direct any questions to critical_theory@berkeley.edu

DESIGNATED EMPHASIS OPEN HOUSE

Tuesday, February 22, 5:30 pm
330 Wheeler

Join The Program in Critical Theory’s faculty and students for a panel discussion and Q&A about the Designated Emphasis (DE) in Critical Theory. All UC Berkeley PhD students interested in applying to the DE are invited to attend.

Serving nearly 100 graduate students from the humanities, social sciences, law, and public health, the DE enables graduate students already enrolled in UC Berkeley PhD programs to obtain certification of a Designated Emphasis specialization in Critical Theory. The DE offers courses on the nineteenth-century notion of critique—including the historically distinct modalities of Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and others; on the Frankfurt School and other twentieth-century currents of critical theory and philosophy; and on contemporary forms and modes of critical theory, including critical race theory, postcolonial theory, feminist critique, gender studies and queer theory, and the diverse approaches to critique arising with and after structuralism and poststructuralism. The DE emphasizes the centrality of theoretical critique in the examination of contemporary values, of the power relations that constrain and enable political, social, cultural, and economic life, and of the modes of justification that legitimate historical and cultural inquiry and sociopolitical analysis.

Applications to the DE in Critical Theory are due Thursday, March 17, 2022 by 4 pm. All students enrolled in PhD programs at UC Berkeley who have not already taken the QE are eligible to apply. To learn more about the application process and access application forms, please visit the academics webpage.

Please direct any questions to critical_theory@berkeley.edu.

Online “Visiting Days” CT Welcome Event for Prospective Berkeley PhD Students

UC Berkeley’s interdisciplinary Program in Critical Theory will hold its annual “Critical Theory Program Welcome” for visiting PhD admittees (prospective Berkeley doctoral students) on Monday, March 14, from 12-1 pm via Zoom. Please note that registration is required here.

All current CT students and faculty are invited to attend. Over the years, similar “Welcome and Information” events have made a real difference for students deciding whether to do their doctoral work at Berkeley. The gathering will allow for CT Program faculty, staff, and current students to speak with admittees, conveying to them what the DE in Critical Theory is and responding to questions the doctoral-program admittees may have. Please attend this brief event—even if you can only drop in for a few minutes.

CT Faculty Announce Spring 2022 DE Courses

CT faculty will be teaching eighteen spring 2022 courses that count towards the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. These courses reflect the interdisciplinary breadth of the Program, with core and elective options in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Education, English, Ethnic Studies, Film, German, History of Art, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Sociology, and Spanish.

For more information on spring courses, full course descriptions, and the curricular requirements of the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, please visit our Courses page.

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Congratulations to the Program’s Recent Graduates

Congratulations to the Program’s most recent graduates! The Program in Critical Theory has grown to 99 active students with 73 affiliated faculty. To date, 67 UC Berkeley PhDs have earned a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory.

Matthew Gonzales (Spring 2021)
PhD in Comparative Literature
DE in Critical Theory

Ian Steele (Spring 2021)
PhD in Anthropology
DE in Critical Theory

Jianqing Chen (Summer 2021)
PhD in Film and Media
DE in Critical Theory

Jessica Ruffin (Summer 2021)
PhD in Film and Media
DE in Critical Theory

Elisa Russian (Summer 2021)
PhD in Italian Studies
DE in Critical Theory


The Program in Critical Theory Welcomes Visiting Scholar Lucie K. Mercier

Lucie K. Mercier is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Philosophy. Prior to coming to UC Berkeley (2021–22), she was a Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University, London (2016–19) where she obtained her PhD in 2016, as well as a visiting scholar at the University of Paris 8 (2020–21). Her research addresses the ways in which questions of race and coloniality interfere with the concepts, models and practices of philosophy and challenge the history of philosophy as a discipline.

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Message from the Director

Dear friends and colleagues,

As we reflect now on the 2020–2021 academic year and look forward to the future, we want to thank all those in our community for their—for your—dedication to the ongoing study and practice of Critical Theory. In an extraordinarily challenging year marked by political, social, and economic crises, we continued to come together and support each other, and most importantly to persist in the critical examination of the structures and relations shaping and changing our world, past and present.

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CT Faculty Announce Fall 2021 DE Courses

CT faculty will be teaching twelve fall 2021 courses that count towards the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. These courses reflect the interdisciplinary breadth of the Program, with core and elective options in Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Education, English, Gender & Women’s Studies, Geography, German, History, Law, and Philosophy.

For more information on fall courses, full course descriptions, and the curricular requirements of the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, please visit our Courses page.

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DISSERTATION AWARDS SUPPORT GRADUATE RESEARCH

The Program in Critical Theory will support seven Designated Emphasis students’ dissertation projects in 2021–2022. Brent Eng and Pedro Javier Rolón Machado will receive semester-long Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowships, while Wendi Bootes, Alfonso Fierro, Thiti Jamkajornkeiat, Lubna Safi, and Camila YaDeau will receive Critical Theory Research Grants.

Support for this year’s awardees is generously provided by the Magistretti Graduate Fellowship Fund through the Division of Arts and Humanities, the Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science, the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the generosity of many other colleagues and friends.

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Congratulations to Our New Designated Emphasis Students

The Program in Critical Theory is delighted to welcome 16 new students to the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. The new cohort includes graduate students from Berkeley departments in the social sciences, humanities, and professional schools. These new admits bring the total number of Critical Theory DE students to nearly 105.

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Congratulations to CT Graduate Students on Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times Awards 

The Program in Critical Theory would like to congratulate DE students Spencer Adams (Rhetoric), Pê Feijó (Rhetoric), and Donna Honarpisheh (Comparative Literature) for receiving Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times Awards! 

“The Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times Award is intended to honor UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and student instructors who in 2020 embraced the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and engaged in or supported excellent teaching. These instructors and staff used innovative methods and worked beyond their traditional roles to ensure that students remained engaged and supported, and were challenged to do meaningful work under extraordinary circumstances…” 

More information can be found on the Research, Teaching, and Learning web page.

ANNOUNCING CRITICAL THEORY DISSERTATION FELLOWSHIP | APPLICATIONS DUE APRIL 30

Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowships are awarded to Critical Theory DE students with records of achievement and promising dissertation projects. Fellowships support students writing their dissertations, providing full fee remission (where required) and a full stipend, usually for a semester. Other research grants of shorter term (including summer) may also be awarded, as resources permit.

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GRADUATE STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Jessica Ruffin

Jessica Ruffin is a PhD candidate in Film & Media, with Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. She holds an MA in German Literature and Culture from UC Berkeley (2018) as well as an MA in Humanities from University of Chicago (2008). Her interdisciplinary research brings together aesthetic philosophy, media theory, spectatorial theory, and media archaeology towards inquiry into ethical relation and aesthetic experience. Jessica received the Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship in 2020 for her project, A World Divided: Schopenhauer, Aesthetics, and Cinematic Experience, which draws upon the aesthetics and ethics of Arthur Schopenhauer in order to reframe and reimagine 20th-century German media and cultural theory in light of ethics, feminist, and critical race theories. Working from this intersectional and historical standpoint—which she terms “amphibious”—A World Divided proposes an ethics of emergence in order to contend with the highly-politicized, contemporary media milieux In Fall 2021, Jessica will join the University of Michigan Society of Fellows for a 2-year appointment. Following that, she will begin as Assistant Professor in the Literature Faculty at MIT.

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Critical Theory Program Welcome Event for visiting Ph.D-program admittees, March 17

UC Berkeley’s interdisciplinary Program in Critical Theory will hold its annual “Critical Theory Program Welcome” for visiting Ph.D-program admittees (prospective Berkeley doctoral students) across the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities next Wednesday. 

The “Welcome” will take place Wednesday March 17, from 2:30-3:30 via Zoom. 
The meeting link is here.

All current CT students and faculty are invited to attend. In prior years, the CT Welcome/Discussion of the Designated Emphasis made a real difference for students deciding whether to do their doctoral work at Berkeley. The gathering will allow for CT Program faculty, staff, and current students to speak with visiting admittees, conveying to them what the DE in Critical Theory is, and responding to questions the visiting doctoral-program admittees may have. Please come to this brief event—even if you can only drop in for a few minutes.

Please direct any questions to critical_theory@berkeley.edu.