CSPT courses and seminars

CSPT students are required to take CSPT 501/601. In addition, they must choose between offered seminars CSPT 500/600, which run in Fall and Spring semesters. These vary in topics, themes and disciplinary orientations from year to year.

Core CSPT course (2017–2018)

CSPT 501: Contemporary Cultural Social and Political Thought I

Instructor: Emile Fromet de Rosany (French)

An exploration of contemporary themes and issues in cultural, social and political thought, with an emphasis on thought that crosses traditional cultural and disciplinary boundaries.

Click here for the course outline


CSPT 601: Contemporary Cultural Social and Political Thought II

Instructor: Emile Fromet de Rosany (French)

A continuation of CSPT 501, this seminar is designed for students proceeding to a doctoral candidacy examination in Cultural Social and Political Thought. The focus will be on themes and thinkers important to contemporary cultural social and political thought.

Click here for the course outline


CSPT seminars 2017–2018

Fall 2017

CSPT 500/600 A1: Foundations of Indigenous Nationhood

Instructor: Professor Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (Political Science)

This foundational course introduces students to the field of Indigenous Nationhood, offering a survey of the major historical and contemporary themes and issues in Indigenous governance, politics and law.

CSPT 500/600 A2: Migrations in Global History

Instructor: Professor Neilesh Bose (History)

Spring 2018

CSPT 500/600 A1: Bodies and Power

Instructor: Professor Arthur Kroker (Political Science)

As a way of theorizing bodies, power and resistance in the contemporary era, the seminar will bring three important texts into conversation: Franz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, Hamid Dabashi’s Brown Skin, White Masks, and Glen Coulthard’s Red Skin, White Masks. What’s at stake in the above texts is both an acute understanding of actually happens—what deprivations, violence, and phantasmatic logic—when ‘whiteness’ becomes the universal sign of bodily presence and which forms of resistance might work to undermine the white mask of politics, culture and society. The discussion of Fanon, Dabashi and Coulthard will be deepened by reference to other critical perspectives, including Avery Gordon’s concept of the “hauntological imagination,” Homi Bhabha’s interrogation of postcolonial identity and Edward Said’s persuasive thesis that “Orientialism” is the essence of the current regime; Judith Butler’s theorization of “precarious life” and Wendy Brown’s understanding of “wounded attachments” as the real psychic energy animating the politics of white rage.

Click here for the course outline.

CSPT 500/600 A2 | SOCI 504: Current Issues in Social Theory: Contemporary Materialisms

Instructor: Professor Steve Garlick (Sociology)

Social theory has always been informed by various forms of materialism. This course focuses on recent developments in social theory, with particular attention to how materialist theories have persisted and re-emerged in different forms through the linguistic and cultural turns of the late 20th century, and with particular concern for how these shifts inform our understandings of power relations and social inequalities. The course offers students the opportunity to engage with some of the most important and influential social theories and theorists.

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CSPT 500/600 A3: Literary Theory

Instructor: Professor Stephen Ross (English)

This course will survey the major contributions to literary theory, beginning with a quick review of the history, going back to Plato. We will then focus on the sudden explosion of theoretical work from the 1960s on, including reading work by the likes of Ferdinand de Saussure, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, Gloria Andzaldúa, bell hooks, Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud, Slavoj Zizek, Giorgio Agamben, and Jacques Rancière. We will read these works as products of a particular period in the history of the institutionalized study of literature and culture, as well as inheritors of the tradition of continental philosophy (including Immanual Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, and beyond). We will situate the predilection for constructivist explanations of such phenomena as identity, sex, sexuality, gender, race, class, and ethnicity against the historical and institutional backgrounds in which it emerged. By the end of the term, students will have a firm grasp on where theory came from, and why and how it emerged, as well as where it has lead most recently. We will begin from the premise that theory is not by any means dead, but that it has undergone a sea change that requires rigorous rethinking.

Past CSPT seminars

Fall 2017

CSPT 500/600: Foundations of Indigenous Nationhood
Professor Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (Political Science)

This foundational course introduces students to the field of Indigenous Nationhood, offering a survey of the major historical and contemporary themes and issues in Indigenous governance, politics and law.

CSPT 500/600: Migrations in Global History
Professor Neilesh Bose (History)

Spring 2017

CSPT 500/600: Nietzsche for Our Times
Professor Arthur Kroker (Political Science)

Nietzsche is the premonitory horizon of the 21st century, the remorseless thinker whose writings represent the future, not the past, of contemporary politics, culture and society. To read Nietzsche, particularly On the Genealogy of Morals, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and The Gay Science, is to approach closely, in word and deed, the essence of current politics and society, certainly its palpable anger, nihilism, and fierce ressentiment but also the existential situation of solitary individuals today tensely living between courageous optimism and surges of pessimism.

Fall 2016

CSPT 500/600: Media and Materiality: From Marx to Barad
Professor Jentrey Sayers (English)

Informed by new materialism, this seminar surveys critical theory from Karl Marx to Karen Barad to identify historical stress points in the articulation of media and materiality since the 1850s. Our survey accounted for how these two terms have been situated in various theories of agency, from historical materialism, semiotics, and symptomatic reading to media archaeology and agential realism.

CSPT 500/600: Adorno, Benjamin, and Frankfurt School Critical Theory
Professor Elena Pnevmonidou (Germanic and Slavic Studies)

The aim of this cross-listed undergraduate/graduate course is to introduce students to Frankfurt School Critical Theory through the writings of some of the School’s leading foundational figures as well as through an exploration of facets of cultural modernism and the German social and political context of the Weimar Period, Fascism and the reconfiguration of the public sphere in the 1950s and 1960s.

Spring 2016

CSPT 500/600: Political Theory Graduate Seminar
Professor R.B.J. (Rob) Walker (Political Science)

An examination of key issues and debates in the study of political theory. Involves a survey of the major literature in this field of political science.

Fall 2015

CSPT 500/600: Theoria/Poeisis
Professor Stephen Ross (English) and Professor Emile Fromet de Rosnay (French)

This course asserts that there is a fundamental continuity between modernist cultural practice and late-twentieth-century literary and cultural theory. Literary works frequently inaugurate lines of inquiry that philosophy, theory, and cultural studies later take up. We will both begin from and go beyond the observation that that Gilles Deleuze read D. H. Lawrence, that Alain Badiou read Samuel Beckett, or that Jacques Derrida read James Joyce (there are many other such pairings possible). Instead, students will be encourage to consider whether the later theories propounded by Deleuze, Badiou, Derrida derive from their encounters with modernism.

CSPT 500/600: Power and Resistance in the 21st Century
Professor Arthur Kroker (Political Science)

Power and Resistance in the 21st century is an interdisciplinary CSPT/Political Science graduate seminar focused on postcolonial politics, critical race theory and new social movements.

As a way of theorizing power and resistance in the 21st century, the seminar brought two important theoretical discourses into conversation: the first, postcolonial theory (Franz Fanon, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha,) focused on the genealogy of contemporary patterns of racial, class and sexual domination and, the second, premonitory critical perspectives (Albert Camus, Glen Coulthard, Avery Gordon) that explore the phantasms and hauntologies of power and domination in contemporary times. Here, postcolonial narratives of critical race theory critically engage with ghostly intimations of posthuman violence in a compellingly prophetic vision of theory and events.

Spring 2015

CSPT 500/600: New Materialisms: Affect, Biopolitics, Complexity
Professor Steve Garlick (Sociology)

This seminar concentrated on work that traverses the biological, subjective, and social domains via the concepts of affect, biopolitics, and complexity. We read both foundational and contemporary texts by authors such as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Michel Foucault, Brian Massumi, Patricia Clough, John Protevi, Nikolas Rose, John Urry, Wendy Wheeler, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Students were invited to explore linkages, parallels, and divergences among these different approaches to theorizing the ways in which bodies, materiality, and life have become crucial sites for power, politics, and emergent futures.

Fall 2014

CSPT 500/600: Trajectories of the Post-Human
Professor Arthur Kroker (Political Science)

Trajectories of the Posthuman” is an interdisciplinary graduate seminar that explored the fate of the body in contemporary politics and society through the writings of critical feminist theory, including Judith Butler, Wendy Brown, Jane Bennett, Donna Haraway and Katherine Hayles.

CSPT 500/600: Boundaries, Borders, Limits
Professor R.B.J. (Rob) Walker (Political Science)

This is an advanced graduate course on the politics of boundaries, especially boundaries that take the form of (geographical but also other kinds of) borders and (legal but also other kinds of) limits. It is thus a course about distinctions, discriminations and classifications, not least among literatures seeking to understand the politics of boundaries, borders and limits. Or perhaps it might be better to say that it is a course about beginnings and endings, and the diverse ways in which claims to origin and destination are inscribed in boundaries, borders, limits, distinctions, discriminations and classifications. 

Spring 2014

CSPT 500/600: Hollywood and Global Megacities in Cinema: West by Southeast
Professor Lincoln Shlensky (English)

Fall 2013

CSPT 500/600: Power and Resistance: Kafka, Nietzsche, Deleuze and Guattari, and Foucault
Professor Arthur Kroker (Political Science)

Fall 2012

CSPT 500/600: Ethics and Politics in the Twentieth Century
Professor Stephen Ross (English)
CSPT 500/600: Bodies and Power
Professor Arthur Kroker (Political Science)

Spring 2012

CSPT 500/600 - Boundaries, Borders, Limits
Professor R.B.J. (Rob) Walker (Political Science)

Spring 2010

CSPT 500/600 - Legitimations of Violence
Professor R.B.J. (Rob) Walker (Political Science)

Fall 2009

CSPT 500/600 - The Nietzsche Seminar
Professor Arthur Kroker (Political Science)

Spring 2009

CSPT 500/600 - The Culture and Politics of Emotion Theory
Professor Cheryly Suzack (Political Science)

Fall 2008

CSPT 500/600 - Bodies and Power
Professor Arthur Kroker (Political Science)

Spring 2008

CSPT 500/600 - The Politics of Nature in an Era of Pandemic Capital
Professor Nicole Shukin (English)

Spring 2007

CSPT 500/600 – The Faces of Exile
Professor Peyman Vahabzadeh (Sociology)