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Theory and Cultural Studies

Many of us engage directly and substantially with schools of theory and/or Cultural Studies in our scholarship as well as in our graduate and undergraduate teaching and our thesis advising. Our theoretical interests include critical theory, postmodernist and poststructuralist theories, feminist and queer theories, critical race theory, disability theory, postcolonial theory, avant-garde theory, and of course literary theory. Our range in Cultural Studies extends to cultural studies of science and technology, aesthetics and cultural studies, feminist cultural studies, film studies, reception theory, cultural policy studies, Latino/a cultural studies, and visual culture. Many of us are involved in theory-driven intra- and interdepartmental initiatives.

Recent Grad Courses

  • Studies in Theory: Foucault
  • Studies in Theory: Derrida
  • Post-Postmodernism
  • Intellectual Backgrounds to Modernism
  • Introduction to Visual Culture
  • Introduction to Social Thought
  • The Body Shop: Liberalism and Cultural Theory
  • Theory v. Theory
  • Faulkner and His Literary Descendents
  • Modernity
  • What Was Cultural Studies?
  • Theories of Reading
  • Black to the Future: Afro-Futurisms
  • Building the Multiple: A Seminar in A Thousand Plateaus
  • Histories and Historiographies of Rhetoric
  • Theories of Feminism
  • Queer Modernism
  • Writing Nonfiction: Defacement
  • Sexologies: An Introduction to Sex Studies
  • Spaces of Culture
  • Cultural Policy Studies
  • Latino/a Cultural Studies
  • Sex in Space: Feminist Media Studies
  • Introduction to Disability Studies
  • Feminist Science Studies
  • Literature, Medicine and Culture
  • Spectacular Technoscience: Images and the Theatre of Scientific Change
  • Edward Said and C.L.R. James

People specializing in this area

Emeritus Faculty

Robert Lawrence Caserio

gay and lesbian literary traditions

Susan Merrill Squier, Ph.D.

While at Penn State, I worked in a number of different areas that fall under this heading: science studies, literature and medicine, feminist theory and women's studies, disability studies, and agricultural studies. My teaching included a doctoral seminar on "Feminist Theory of the '60s and '70s," and a doctoral seminar on "Gender and Science: Reproduction" in which students read foundational works in science studies and engage in laboratory observation as part of an exploration of the concept of reproduction at three scales (the human, the animal, the bacterial) and from several different perspectives/ locations (literary criticism, feminist theory, cultural and science studies, and agricultural studies). My final graduate seminars were in Comics Studies, with a specific focus on "Graphic Medicine." In Fall 2016 I taught a graduate seminar in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies on "Feminist Cartoonists," and in Spring 2016 I taught a seminar on "Graphic Medicine." I once counted up the number of "studies" I'd been involved in, and came to the conclusion that I am passionate about engaged literary studies: literature for something as well as literature in itself.