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Slide Notes

This talk is meant to be an introduction to critical theory--which is a HUGE topic! This is not meant to be extensive nor exhaustive, just a run down of some need-to-know basics. This is the 'fake it till you make it" intro to critical theory!

Critical Theory encompasses social theory + literary criticism = Herkimer's goal of liberating the human soul from enslavement (ie, capitalism)

The goal of critical theory is to change your mode of thinking, approach to reading.

This is a list of links I consulted as I made these slides:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_theory

http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/vice-guide-to-critical-theory-university-students

https://www.zotero.org/groups/critlib

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_critical_theory

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_studies

http://www.reddit.com/r/CriticalTheory

https://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1968_events_in_France

http://www.theonion.com/articles/grad-student-deconstructs-takeout-menu,85/

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuM-4_xKOOWZnB4j-EQAPQPatpyr7tNk6 [Critical Theory Playlist]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8yhRMIYqDk [Intro to the Frankfurt School]

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisr414d8a71a/post-structuralism-explained-with-hipster-beards-2-xwfz#.ruK2gZzM9

Critical Theory - some basics

Published on Nov 18, 2015

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PRESENTATION OUTLINE

Critical Theory

Some Basics! by Lydia Willoughby @willoughbrarian
This talk is meant to be an introduction to critical theory--which is a HUGE topic! This is not meant to be extensive nor exhaustive, just a run down of some need-to-know basics. This is the 'fake it till you make it" intro to critical theory!

Critical Theory encompasses social theory + literary criticism = Herkimer's goal of liberating the human soul from enslavement (ie, capitalism)

The goal of critical theory is to change your mode of thinking, approach to reading.

This is a list of links I consulted as I made these slides:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_theory

http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/vice-guide-to-critical-theory-university-students

https://www.zotero.org/groups/critlib

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_critical_theory

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_studies

http://www.reddit.com/r/CriticalTheory

https://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1968_events_in_France

http://www.theonion.com/articles/grad-student-deconstructs-takeout-menu,85/

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuM-4_xKOOWZnB4j-EQAPQPatpyr7tNk6 [Critical Theory Playlist]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8yhRMIYqDk [Intro to the Frankfurt School]

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisr414d8a71a/post-structuralism-explained-with-hipster-beards-2-xwfz#.ruK2gZzM9
Photo by estherbester

Structuralism

  • Our experiences are in relation to something bigger than us
  • Systemic structures regulate meaning, producing signs
Key paradigms of structuralism include that there are overarching structures in society that form our identity define our experiences. Categories like male, female, race, class, gender, nation state, etc.

History of Critical Theory // Frankfurt School //
MARX
HABERMAS
ADORNO
GRAMSCI
Herkheimer
Levi-Strauss

Post-Structuralism

May 1968 and Stuart Hall’s Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies …. brought in Marxism to the critical analysis of the 1970s political movements, producing an international intellectual pursuit.

key paradigms:
not only is identity socially constructed: race, gender, nationality, ability, class, but identity/class are a conglomeration of privilege and access that facilitates capitalism

the canon is not stable nor universal

prison industrial complex

self-reflection and positionality

conquest, slavery, genocide = colonialism; facilitates capitalism

BARTHES
DERRIDA
FOUCAULT
BENJAMIN
Kristeva
Lacan
Zizek

Photo by E Wayne

Signs & Semiotics

  • can signify multiple meanings
  • so, signs can just point to other signs.... deferment
and then it gets messy…. Deconstruction… PostModernism

My favorite example is Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita:
“It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”

Lolita here is the object of desire, but the narrator [Humbert Humbert] is fixated on 'sight' on seeing, on seeing as knowing, on vision as conquest that regulates access.. producing identity and structures societal roles like age, race, gender, power, witness, defendant etc.
Photo by mag3737

Down with the Binary!

  • "Violent Hierarchies" : black/white, male/female, teacher/student
  • Deconstructing the meanings of seemingly paired signs exposes complex human experience
Not only are supposed binaries reductive and they don't represent lived experiences, but they are violent in that they erase identity, subvert resistance and political empowerment, and repress jouissance.... critical theory idea coined by Lacan that is the esctasy of when meaning, sign and signifier align. It is also sexual pleasure, orgasm.
Photo by quimby

Time: the 4th Dimension

  • Signs and meanings shift in cultural context
  • Our experiences are not the same as those before or after us, nor are they universal
Critiquing society and contemporary culture; understanding and excavating the historical basis of institutional power.

Power: who has it? what is it? how do we define it?

Hegemony vs. Hierarchy
Agency
Globalization
Consumerism

Photo by JD Hancock

Simulacrum
Baudrillard

Lyotard
Donna Haraway
Baudrillard

reality vs. representation (simulacrum)

Hyper reality exists as the representation of signs, pointing and signifying something that they may not appear to be, or more so.
Photo by jeff o_o

Panopticon
Foucault

prison industrial complex

Institutional power, structural power, and technology facilitate deep thinking about access and subjectivity, surveillance and agency.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire (translates to the classroom and to his critique of Banking Model)
John Dewey & Constructivism
Bloom’s Taxonomy
bell hooks
Photo by iLifeinicity

Gender Performativity
Judith Butler

Gender Performativity: we construct gender by performing it. Gender is an acting that refers and performs back to itself, reiterating gender roles and defining gendered narratives by the punishments for exceeding or disappoint gender expectations; gender performativity is also policing others for not believing in them or

this is where violent hierarchies get violent for women and transfolk. for nongender binary folk, for ppl masc or fem of center.

Heteronormativity: Rich + Sedgewick
BUTLER
HALBERSTAM
BORNSTEIN
IRIGARAY
LORDE

Queer Theory

Identity is not fixed and our gender performance, and sexual assignment do not determine who we are, nor who we love. Queerness as a deviant, perverse and oppositional space in expansive contrast to heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality... even an analogous compulsory homosexuality that is based in 'same'ness. In a post-AIDS 1990s, Queer Theory reenvisioned queerness as in conversation with representations of death and dying, and identity as deeply ambivalent.

Halperin
Berlant
Warner
de Lauretis
Munoz

Photo by linksfraktion

Critical Race Theory

Critical Race theory starts from the basis that we live in a white supremacist society. This is a picture of a statue of Thomas Jefferson at the Library of Congress, standing in front of all of the names of people who were enslaved at his slave camp/plantation Monticello. His personal library formed the initial collection that grew into our current library of congress, and the humanist curiosity in his collection lead to the LOC organizational schema. This entire system of knowledge organization is based on the collected knowledge of a slave owner. White privilege seeps into all the overarching structures that govern society.

WEB DuBois & Booker T Washington
Derrick Bell
Patricia Hill Collins
BAHBA
Hazel Carby
Stuart Hall
Paul GILROY's Black Atlantic
Toni MORRISON's Playing in the Dark
Moraga & Anzaldua: This Bridge Called My Back
barbara smith
Phillip DeLoria's Playing Indian
Whiteness Studies: Dyer

POSTCOLONIALISM
Kincaid
Vine DeLoria
Spivak
Achebe
Fanon
Said
Photo by Tim Evanson

Intersectionality:
Race + Class + Gender

A marxist feminist approach that posits that oppression happens at the intersection of society's structures (race, class, gender). Coined by Barbara Crenshaw.

#BlackLivesMatter (movement started by queer black women)
#SayHerName
#TransLivesMatter


Many modes of cultural studies emerged from intersectional studies:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_studies#Related_authors

#critlib

critical approaches to library praxis
critlib.tumblr.com

"Our goals are to engage in discussion about critical perspectives on library practice. Recognizing that we all work under regimes of white supremacy, capitalism, and a range of structural inequalities, how can our work as librarians intervene in and disrupt those systems?"

end with question of genre and meaning:
"criticism is a genre; [it is a] ... knowledge [that] intersects interestingly and persuasively with taste. ...[Criticism happens] when your knowledge, operated on by [your] taste in the presence of some new example of the genre [you're] interested in—a new TV series, a movie, an opera or ballet or book—hungers to make sense of that new thing, to analyze it, interpret it, make it mean something."
--Daniel Mendelsohn, A Critic's Manifesto, April 28 2012, New Yorker