Worldly Entanglements: Where is Theory now? - EN918

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
7 30 (15) DR A Mildenberg







This module asks the questions 'Where is theory now?' and 'In what ways is theory "of the world"?' Starting with discussions about ‘the point of theory' (Mieke Bal) and ‘the joy of theory’ (Martin McQuillan), the aim of the module is to study, discuss and compare major contemporary theoretical debates through effective questioning of human and other-than-human ‘worldly entanglements’. This will include the interaction of what Edward Casey calls the ‘edge’ of our own and other forms of ‘skin’ and what Karen Barad calls the intra-action of lively matter. Seminars will look at human bodies, angelic bodies, the body as interpretation, animals, plants, objects and the other-than-human more broadly. In the first half of the term, each week addresses a new theme of such ‘worldly entanglements’, thus ranging across a wide spectrum of interpretation and exploring the complex liaison between our own humanity and the material and non-material world. The second half of the module looks back upon the first half via student presentations, the visit of and discussions with a quest speaker, as well as seminars on Karen Barad’s ‘posthuman performativity’, Clare Colebrook’s ‘extinct theory’ and Rita Felski’s ‘postcritical and reflective reading’. The aim of this second half is to reflect upon (and indeed go beyond reflection of) the continuing cultural and existential relevance of the worldly entanglements central to contemporary theoretical debates.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300


Available Spring term 2019/20

Method of assessment

Essay (5,000 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually:

Ahmed, Sara (2006). Queer Phenomenology
Bal, Mieke (1994). The Point of Theory: Practices of Cultural Analysis
Barad, Karen (2003). 'Posthumanist Performativity'
Braidotti, Rosi (2013). The Posthuman
Fleski, Rita (2015). The Limits of Critique
Kearney, Richard and Treanor, Brian (2015). Carnal Hermeneutics

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of a variety of contemporary critical theories and their relationship with the world;

2 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which such theories relate to each other;

3 Demonstrate a critical awareness of current debates or new insights within the contemporary theoretical fields of post-humanism, post-critique, phenomenology, carnal hermeneutics, new materialism, companion species, agential realism, entanglement, material-discursive practices;

4 Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of, and competence in critically evaluating the analytic tools and vocabularies which are the substance of contemporary theoretical thought and advanced scholarship within the field.

5 Demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge concerning theory in the contemporary world;

6 Demonstrate a sophisticated range of analytical skills, including those close textual analysis and well-constructed argumentation.

7 Demonstrate the ability to deal with complex issues within a range of contemporary theoretical texts and critically assess the relationships between a variety of intellectual frameworks;

8 Demonstrate the ability to communicate information, ideas and solutions in group discussions and oral presentations to non-specialist audiences;

9 Demonstrate the capacity for self-directed research and the ability to critically evaluate and creatively deploy contemporary theoretical perspectives;

10 Demonstrate an ability to construct original, innovative and complex arguments;

11 Demonstrate the ability to interpret arguments, marshal information from published sources, critically evaluate own research and that of others;

12 Demonstrate the ability to frame appropriate questions to achieve solutions to a problem;

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