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Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory MA

Kingston University

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Course Description

The MA in Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory is widely recognised as one of the most significant and innovative courses in its field, and it is now one of the largest and most successful MA Philosophy programmes in the country. Unlike most courses on contemporary critical theory (based in literary or cultural studies departments), the MA in PCCT grounds its problems and concepts in the appropriate philosophical context. It is taught by internationally recognized specialists at the UK's most dynamic and inventive centre for research in modern European philosophy, the CRMEP (formerly based at Middlesex University, prior to its transfer to Kingston over the summer of 2010). This programme provides students with the opportunity to explore the specifically philosophical aspects and significance of contemporary Critical Theory. As understood on the programme, Critical Theory refers to those traditions of 20th-century European thought within which philosophy opens out onto critical diagnoses of the historical present. The MA Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory combines study of the two main traditions of critical theory the Frankfurt School and French anti-humanism, and their background in Kant, Hegel, Marx and 19th-century European philosophy more generally, with a focus on work by thinkers who have become influential only in the last two decades: Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Antonio Negri, Jacques Ranci?re. Students take four taught modules, and prepare a dissertation on a topic of their choice. - Concepts of Critique. Historical and philosophical introduction to the two main 20th-century traditions of Critical Theory: the Frankfurt School and French anti-humanism. After orienting the field with reference to Kant's critical conception of philosophy on the one hand and Marx's critique of philosophy on the other, the module focuses on competing interpretations of the concepts of critique and enlightenment in Luk?cs, Horkheimer and Adorno, Althusser, Foucault, and one or two other more recent thinkers. - Dissertation. The aim of this module is to provide students with an opportunity for intensive and detailed, research-based study (12,000 to 15,000 words) of their chosen topic under the guidance of an appropriate supervisor. Students are required to attend research skills seminars on constructing a proposal, on editing and composition, on referencing and on online and electronic research methods they also make an oral presentation of their dissertation proposal. OPTIONAL - Hegel and his Legacy. An critical examination of the main features of Hegel's thought through discussion of his Phenomenology of Spirit and related texts. Topics include: the critique of Kant's epistemology phenomenological and dialectical methods dialectics of consciousness and self-consciousness desire and recognition freedom and autonomy the limits of reason spirit as ethical life the passage from religion to 'absolute knowing.' Engagement with the text is guided by some of Hegel's most influential readers, including Marx, Heidegger, Marcuse, Koj?ve, and Adorno. - Commodification and Subjectivation. Extending the comparative analysis of the Frankfurt School and French anti-humanist traditions (begun in Concepts of Critique), this module critically examines their contrasting understandings of the concepts of subject and social form, and their significance for art theory. Following consideration of the philosophical ground of these debates in the emergence of a new concept of the subject in late-18th-century German philosophy, and its decisive transformation by Marx, the module focuses on Marx's analysis of the inversion of the subject-object relationship by commodity-form. It then moves on to discuss the transformation of this problematic by structuralist and post-structuralist concepts of the subject in the 1970s and 1980s. Central concepts include: value, abstraction, fetishism, reification, structure, b

The MA in Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory is widely recognised as one of the most significant and innovative courses in its field, and it is now one of the largest and most successful MA Philosophy programmes in the country. Unlike most courses on contemporary critical theory (based in literary or cultural studies departments), the MA in PCCT grounds its problems and concepts in the...

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