Critical theory exists at the intersection of literature and philosophy — the junction where we ask such fundamental questions as:
- What is the nature and function of literature?
- What constitutes sound interpretation, and what are its purposes?
- How can the methods and findings of other disciplines inform our understanding of literature, and how can literature influence the evolution of other disciplines?
Courses in critical theory cover materials ranging from the foundational work of Plato and Aristotle up through the most recent thought about historical and contemporary creative expression — including the epic, the novel, poetry, drama, film, television, comics and other forms of popular culture. These courses invite students to take a step back from what happens in other literature courses and ask why we do things in the way we do them. The invitation includes the opportunity to consider possibilities we have not yet put into practice.
Faculty in critical theory offer students a broad and diverse range of critical methodologies, representing all the current approaches. Students develop skills in reasoning and analysis that enable them to understand and assess the not only the particular texts on their syllabi but also the countless discourses they encounter in the culture at large.
- David Brewer: Historicism(s), thing theory, the post-critical
- Aman Garcha: Theory of the novel, history of critical theory
- Wendy Hesford: Rhetorical theory, critical race theory, transnational feminist theory, critical legal theory
- Jennifer Higginbotham: Feminist and queer theories and poetics
- Robert Hughes: Modern and contemporary continental philosophies of art, aesthetics, the subject, love, and the body; Laconian psychoanalytic theory
- Brian McHale: Narrative theory, narrative poetics of science fiction, postmodernism
- James Phelan: Narrative theory (especially rhetorical narratology and narrative medicine), history of critical theory, medical humanities theory
- Amy Shuman: Cultural theory, disability theory, folklore theory, narrative theory
- Robyn Warhol: Feminist theory, narrative theory, queer theory, history of critical theory
- Ethan Knapp: History of critical theory, hermeneutics, Marxist theory