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Critical Theory and Cultural Analysis


Admission requirements

No additional admission requirements


What’s in a self? And if subjectivity is not singular but plural, what forces, powers, or technologies contribute to its formation and transformation? In order to address these and related questions this course draws on three influential contemporary theorists well known for their critiques of power, rethinking of mimesis and diagnostic of plasticity: namely, Michel Foucault (1926-1984), Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (1940-2007) and Catherine Malabou (1959). We will focus on key concepts, perspectives and methods developed by these authors –from genealogy to technologies of the self, typography to general mimesis, brain plasticity to metamorphoses – by closely analyzing a selection of texts (book chapters, essays, interviews, courses), including The Hermeneutics of the Subject (2001), Typography (1989), and What Should We Do With Our Brain (2004). The focus of the course lies in understanding the theoretical texts themselves. We shall consider conceptual, argumentative and stylistic structures in order to deepen our understanding of the mimetic powers at play in subject formation. In the process, students will develop key academic skills such as close reading key passages, establishing genealogical connections between theories, developing a research question, 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, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, and Catherine Malabou

  • understands the different critical/theoretical methodologies mobilized by these thinkers (genealogy, deconstruction, new materialism)

  • can close-read complex theoretical texts independently and articulate critical connections between central concepts for critical theory such as power, mimesis, and plasticity

  • is able to identify, select, and cite key phrases, ideas, and concepts from theoretical texts, and develop analyses building towards a coherent argument of her own

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


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

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.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office. À la carte education and Contract teaching 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.


Not applicable