Accents on English: Spring-Summer 2015

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New Critical Theory Certificate Empowers Thinking 'The Unthought'

Diego Velázquez's 1656 oil painting, "Las Meninas"The Department of English’s new Graduate Certificate in Critical Theory officially launches in fall 2015, offering students a deeper background in cultural and social theory. The certificate involves students in innovative approaches to critical thinking and provides a valuable, campus-wide, interdisciplinary platform for conversation. Theory is de-mystified as students explore complex ideas using critical tools introduced in the program.

“Like many undergraduate and graduate students, when I first discovered the world of theory, it opened me to new ways of thinking and seeing the world,” says Ronald Broglio, Director of English’s Graduate Studies and a faculty member affiliated with the certificate. “Theory comes with hurdles of strange and provocative terms, which, when understood, help produce new modes of thinking and dwelling in the world.”

“So,” he adds mischievously,“theory means a rigorous modality for unleashing new possibilities in thought and the power to think the unthought in thought.”

The certificate is 15 credit hours and is available to all ASU graduate students, non-degree graduate students, and working professionals. There are three admission requirements: 1) Completion of an undergraduate bachelor's degree, 2) Minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA, and 3) Any course in critical theory or a related field taken at the upper level undergraduate level or at the graduate level.

Broglio continued, “Critical theory is a foundational language in the humanities and arts—it is a language that we have in common apart from our disciplinarily special methodologies and languages. It is a bridge that allows disciplines to talk with one another and to build something new.”

So, what can you do with a certificate in critical theory?

The knowledge and skills offered through this program are used widely in teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. “The certificate is an ‘equal opportunity employer’ that is hospitable to any sort of object of study," says Broglio. "The struggle produces something new—not theory exactly and not a disciplinary thought but a monstrous, brilliant hybrid that asks us to see the world in a new way.”

In addition to Broglio, Department of English faculty involved in this program include Joni AdamsonGregory CastleMark Lussier,Maureen GogginPeter GogginBradley Ryner and Robert Sturges. Each is passionate about this subject and will help students understand the possibilities inherent in the study and practical uses of critical theory.

Students and potential students who want to discuss theory and literature can interact with faculty online in the Facebook group, “Theory Reading Group ASU.”

“Dive in!” says Broglio. “There are a lot of introductions to theory, and a lot of websites and videos as resources. There will be struggles to learning, but the rewards of new ways of thinking can last a lifetime.”

Applications are accepted year-round. Complete the Graduate Admissions Online Application for Admission. Requirements for the application can be found on the certificate’s main page.

For more questions about qualifications or specifics of the program, please contact Ron Broglio or Gregory Castle.

Kira Assad

Photo 1: Diego Velázquez's 1656 oil painting, "Las Meninas" is one of the most studied paintings in Western history due to its enigmatic subjects and composition. Michel Foucault, a major twentieth-century theorist, discusses the work in his book, The Order of Things.

Header background image is an undated photograph—likely from the early 1900s—of members of the Alpha Society, a mandatory literary club, posing with what is now "A" Mountain in the background. UP UPC ASUD A4242 #3