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COURSE DESCRIPTION: The emergence of a new critical theory for the 21st century, exemplified in the writings of such theorists as Foucault, Agamben, Žižek, and Badiou as well as in such zones of contemporary discourse as biopolitics and globalization theory, has tremendous but still uncharted consequences for theological thinking.

The course will explore the ways in which contemporary critical theory is transforming the way we understand the “theological’ in a truly global context, specifically with reference to the deeper question of the religious, understood across the international spectrum, and the force it exerts on different cultures, society, and strategies of political action. Specifically, the course will attend to such questions at the global capital, power and the state, cultural identity, and postcolonial/decolonial politics and theory.

PLEASE NOTE: This CTPE 860-level (GCAS Institute for Global Studies) mini-course is available both as a standalone introductory language course for the general public and as a non-required elective course which counts towards elective credits (in Global Studies or other interdisciplinary fields) needed for all diploma-seeking GCAS students. It is also available as a standalone course for junior faculty members seeking professional development opportunities, as well as the general public or non-credit seeking students, without any additional requirements.


Week 1. May 4. Globalization and the New Critical Theory. This module will examine the current “new era of global crises”, especially political and economic ones,. These crises are engendered by the process of globalization and the varieties of what is coming to be called “the new critical theory” that seek to address and engage these crises. The module will consider what is meant by “globalization” from a theoretical standpoint, while investigating how both these crises and their theoretical responses to date have failed to elicit a serious and all-encompassing response by theological thinkers.

Week 2. May 11. Critical theology and political theology. During this week we will explore how a “critical theology” develops a trajectory and adopts a whole different set of issues from what is known as “political theology.” It will look into whether a new critical theological is primarily normative or “genealogical,” and what the term “critical” actually signifies. It will also provide a framework for understanding the complex forces and processes behind the political and cultural enigmas of our day while uncovering some of the theological implications of such a perspective.

Guest speaker: Jeff Robbins

Week 3. May 18. Hegel and critical theology. This segment will look at the influence and contemporary significance of the philosopher Hegel not just for classical and contemporary critical theory, but the new critical theology as well. Focus will be on Hegel’s Logic and the way in which it impacts the process of revisioning theology.

Guest speaker: Randi Rashkover

Week 4. May 25. Global finance and the new critique of political economy. This module will inquire into the relationship between global finance capital and the “monetarization” of value, as well as the “commodification” of life, as first predicted in the 19th century by Karl Marx, as the driving force of globalization. It will examine the theological resources both for the defense and critique of capital accumulation as well as its broader moral and political implications.