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Critical Theory and Cultural Analysis


Admission requirements

No additional admission requirements


The era of structuralism, followed by that of post-structuralism, the ‘cultural turn’, and more recently the ‘affective turn’ has yielded a large repertoire of new critical terms and approaches. As a result, concepts such as ‘differance’, ‘performativity’, and ‘affect’ as well as methods such as ‘deconstruction’ and ‘discourse analysis’ are today common currency among academics. Unfortunately, this development has also entailed a loss in critical momentum. After all, we do not always take the trouble to read the thinkers to whom we owe these concepts and methods: Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Lauren Berlant. The result is that their ideas have become generally accepted, albeit in a familiarized form. To counter this tendency, we propose to go back to the authors themselves. Our first purpose in doing so will be to become acquainted with (a selection of) their original texts and breathe new life into them by reading them carefully and slowly. In addition, we will try to establish what these texts still have to offer to the humanities in general, and to literary studies in particular.

Course objectives

At the completion of the course the student:

  • has a basic understanding of the main concepts and theories developed by Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Lauren Berlant, and their impact on literary theory and cultural studies in the past decades;

  • can close-read complex theoretical texts independently and critically;

  • is able to identify, select, and cite key phrases, ideas, and concepts from theoretical texts, and to integrate these citations into a coherent argument of her own;

  • can bring these theoretical ideas to bear in their own analysis of cultural texts.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Preparing a weekly discussion question (pass/fail)
Three 1500-word papers (each 33,3%)
Presentation of one of the written papers in class (pass/fail)


The average grade of the three assessments should be sufficient.


In the case of a fail students are entitled to rewrite the paper(s).

Inspection and feedback

How and when a paper review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the paper results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the paper results, an paper review will have to be organised.

Reading list

to be announced


Enrollement trough uSis is mandatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, email:

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

not applicable


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal