Courses & Requirements

Courses & Requirements

Critical Theory and Social Justice

Overview

Critical Theory and Social Justice (CTSJ) is fundamentally interdisciplinary, drawing on ideas from across traditional academic disciplines. "Critical" refers to various bodies of theory and method: Marxism, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, deconstruction, critical race studies, queer theory, feminist theory, postcolonial theory, and intersectionality that interrogate the essentialist assumptions that underlie social identities. "Social justice" refers to an extra-juridical concept of fairness that is focused on exposing and ending social inequalities. The aim of the CTSJ Department is to promote understanding of how categories such as "race," "sexual orientation," and "nationality" help people recognize and combat some injustices and hinder them from recognizing and combating others.

The department's course offerings are divided into three levels:

  • 100-level classes teach students how to think critically about a wide range of topics, including race, gender, sexuality, and nationality.
  • 200-level classes teach students how to participate in a seminar, including how to contribute to class discussion and how to research and write a scholarly paper.
  • 300-level classes teach students a major body of critical theory or a research methodology.

Major Requirements

The major in Critical Theory & Social Justice requires ten courses (40 units) selected in consultation with the student's departmental advisor. Each CTSJ major chooses an emphasis in one of three areas: Critical Race Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Feminist/Queer Studies.

Of the ten courses, at least eight must be offered by the CTSJ Department. Each student is required to submit a major declaration that outlines what the student defines as her/his goals for completing the major.

COURSEWORK

One course at the 100 level

4

One course at the 200 level

4

Two courses at the 300 level

8

Junior Seminar

CTSJ 390CTSJ Junior Seminar: Interventions

4

The Junior Seminar will be offered during the Spring Semester.  Students planning on traveling abroad during their junior year should do so in the fall semester.

Senior Seminar

CTSJ 490Senior Seminar in Critical Theory - Social Justice

4

Two 4-unit methodologies courses

CTSJ 215Critical Discourse Analysis

4

CTSJ 232Introduction to Cultural Studies

4

CTSJ 285Foucault

4

CTSJ 310Qualitative Interview Methods

4

CTSJ 320Culture and Community

4

CTSJ 337Queer Los Angeles: Cruising the Archive

4

CTSJ 340Critical Ethnography

4

CTSJ 357Law and Empire

4

CTSJ 384Bataille

4

Methodology courses taught in other departments may count. Decisions about which courses count are made on an individual basis in consultation with the student’s advisor and the department chair.

Additional Electives

Students must complete two additional CTSJ electives.

Experiential Learning

A minimum of four units. Credit for this component may be earned through participation in a departmentally-approved internship or by completing a community-based learning or research course offered by CTSJ or another department. Students will work with their advisors to determine how to fulfill this requirement in the context of their own courses of study as defined in their major declarations. Students may refer to the list below for pre-approved coursework:

CTSJ 257Critical Praxis: Lyrics on Lockdown

4

CTSJ 310Qualitative Interview Methods

4

CTSJ 320Culture and Community

4

CTSJ 337Queer Los Angeles: Cruising the Archive

4

CTSJ 340Critical Ethnography

4

CTSJ 369Clinical Psychology Laboratory

2

MATH 201Mathematics, Education, and Access to Power

2

POLS 212Mobilizing Voters: Ethnographic Field Research

4

POLS 260Community Law Internship

UEP 307Public Health Practicum

4

UEP 311Community Internship

4

WRD 250Writing with the Community

4

COURSES IN CTSJ EMPHASIS AREAS

To complete an emphasis, a student must take three courses within the chosen emphasis area and at least one course in the other two emphasis areas.

Postcolonial Studies

CTSJ 211Critical Pedagogy

4

CTSJ 259Bodies for Exchange: Migrations, Markets, Politics

4

CTSJ 280Rastafari

4

CTSJ 311Children, Poverty, and Public Policies

4

CTSJ 335Queer of Color Critique

4

CTSJ 340Critical Ethnography

4

CTSJ 357Law and Empire

4

Feminist/Queer Studies

CTSJ 210Mother Goose to Mash-Ups: Children's Literature and Popular Texts

4

CTSJ 215Critical Discourse Analysis

4

CTSJ 230Fundamentals of Queer Theory

4

CTSJ 233Queer Literature and Culture

4

CTSJ 234Materialist Feminism

4

CTSJ 255Women of Color

4

CTSJ 332Psychic Life of Violence

4

CTSJ 335Queer of Color Critique

4

CTSJ 337Queer Los Angeles: Cruising the Archive

4

CTSJ 340Critical Ethnography

4

Critical Race Studies

CTSJ 210Mother Goose to Mash-Ups: Children's Literature and Popular Texts

4

CTSJ 255Women of Color

4

CTSJ 259Bodies for Exchange: Migrations, Markets, Politics

4

CTSJ 286Whiteness

4

CTSJ 312Language, Literacy, and Culture

4

CTSJ 335Queer of Color Critique

4

CTSJ 337Queer Los Angeles: Cruising the Archive

4

CTSJ 340Critical Ethnography

4

CTSJ 357Law and Empire

4

Students may count the same course for a maximum of two different emphases (i.e. “double-dip") for courses that are designated for multiple emphases. Students may also choose to do two emphases within the major.

ACCEPTABLE COURSES FROM OTHER DEPARTMENTS

The courses listed below count toward the CTSJ major (in addition to non-CTSJ courses that count toward the Experiential Learning Requirement). Students may work with their academic advisor to petition other courses to count for the CTSJ major. Students should consult with their academic advisor in choosing non-departmental courses that fit best with their CTSJ major.

ENGL 290Introduction to Literary Methods

4

ENGL 341Race, Law, and Literature

4

ENGL 365Contemporary Literature

4

HIST 277Women and Community Health

4

PHIL 235Feminism and Philosophy

4

POLS 206Race and American Politics

4

POLS 352Black Political Thought

4

POLS 340Rebellious Lawyering

4

RELS 150Introduction to Islam

4

RELS 305Islam, Gender and Sexuality

4

SOC 265Gender and Society

4

UEP 310Community Organizing and Leadership

4

WRITING REQUIREMENT

Students majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice satisfy the final component of Occidental College's college-wide writing requirement by completing the Junior Seminar (CTSJ 390).

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

In their senior year, students majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice are required to complete a comprehensive project concerning a topic of the student's own particular interest. Students produce drafts of their projects during CTSJ 490: Senior Seminar in the fall semester of their senior year. (A student graduating in December is encouraged to take 490 in his or her third-to-last semester, rather than in the last semester.) Each student is directed to consult with at least one CTSJ professor in addition to the professor teaching the senior seminar. The final version of the comprehensive project is due the Friday before spring (or midterm) break of the student's final semester. A typical project culminates in a 20- to 25-page paper. The department is open to critical projects of comparable length that employ other media from students formally trained in those media. A comprehensive project earns the grade "Pass with Distinction" if the department faculty determine that it is of the quality publishable in the CTSJ Journal or another journal in the fields embraced by Critical Theory & Social Justice.

HONORS

Students majoring in CTSJ must be nominated during their senior year by a CTSJ faculty member to be considered for Honors. Nominations will be reviewed by the CTSJ department faculty, who will consider the nominee’s excellence as a CTSJ major by examining a number of factors such as: major GPA, quality of the comprehensive project, experiential learning, and engagement with community-based learning and research. Nominees must meet the minimum overall GPA of 3.25 set by the College for Honors. Students interested in being considered for Honors may apply during the first semester of their senior year to enroll in CTSJ 499: Honors Thesis, which is an independent study, by conferring with their academic advisor and the instructor of CTSJ 490: Senior Seminar. Permission to enroll in CTSJ 499 does not guarantee that the student will receive Honors; the student’s completed comprehensive project will be considered along with the additional criteria listed above in consideration for the designation of Honors.

Minor Requirements

The minor in Critical Theory & Social Justice requires five courses (20 units) taught in the CTSJ Department.

One course at the 100 level

4

One course at the 200 level

4

One course at the 300 level

4

Additional Electives:

Choose two approved courses from the lists above

Courses

Critical Theory and Social Justice Courses