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Critical Theory and Cultural Analysis


Admission requirements

No additional admission requirements


Central to this course are the writings of three critical theorists, who are among the most cited of our current period: Michel Foucault (1926-1984), Achille Mbembe (1957) and Jasbir Puar (1967). We will focus on key concepts developed by these authors – concepts such as biopolitics, governmentality, necropolitics, queer nationalism and debility– by critically and closely reading excerpts from some of their best-known texts, such as Foucault’s History of Sexuality (1976), Mbembe’s Necropolitics (2019) and Puar’s Right to Maime (2017). The focus of the course lies on the theoretical texts themselves, on understanding their theoretical and rhetorical structures, and on the development of key academic skills such as finding and citing key passages, repurposing theory in order to use it for one’s own critical projects, and identifying (and contributing to) specific debates in critical theory and cultural analysis.

Course objectives

At the completion of the course the student:

  • has a basic understanding of the main concepts and theories developed by Michel Foucault, Achille Mbembe, Jasbir Puar 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


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


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

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