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MA Criticism, Literature, Theory

Posted: Friday 02 Mar 2012
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MA Criticism, Literature, Theory

Course overview

This MA combines cutting edge theory with critical invention, exploring the cross-disciplinary force of literature as it traverses multiple media. Taught by leading researchers in the field, it provides a context of stimulating seminars and debates designed to foster an extensive grounding in a wide range of theoretical approaches, alongside a thorough development of analytical and interpretative techniques, high levels of presentation and communication skills, and guidance for independent research.

What you will study

Its primary core module Theory at its Limits examines readings at the forefront of contemporary critical debates, looking at recent writings and current reinterpretations within the theoretical field. Topics include: new psychoanalytic symptoms and neoliberalism; ethics after excess (Badiou/ Lacan); State, power, politics (reading Foucault after Kojève, Rancière after Althusser); political differences (from Deleuze and Guattari to Agamben, Derrida, Schmitt and Benjamin); control, crisis, media; negativities (base materialism meets non-philosophy). The second core module Critical Methods is based on research-led seminars conducted by international specialists in the field, offering rigorous preparation for an independently-researched dissertation. (Recent speakers at Kingston have included Giorgio Agamben, Étienne Balibar,  Andrew Benjamin, Geoffrey Bennington, Drucilla Cornell, Simon Critchley, François Laruelle, China Miéville, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Samuel Weber).

Optional modules are offered under the general heading Critical Explorations, drawing on current projects being undertaken by members of the Faculty. These options allow students to engage with research as it is being developed and to participate in the process of discovery, questioning, argument and analysis. Current options include: Horror Theories; Unconscious Inside Out; Sleep in Theory; Rhythmanalysis: Theories of Rythmn and Affect and Philosophical Systems after Hegel. Other options are available from cognate MA programmes in the Faculty. These may include: Critique, Practice, Power (from the MA in Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory); Cinematic Animals (from the MA in Film); The Object of New Media and Creative Media (from the MA in Media).


Regular research events are run through the London Graduate School, ranging from smaller seminars and symposia to major international conferences hosted at notable venues in London. Recent examples include: ‘Unruly Creatures’ and ‘Dark Materialism’ at the Natural History Museum; ‘Tarantino and Psychoanalysis’ at the Institute for Contemporary Arts; ‘Bergson and Philosophy’ at the Courtauld Institute.

The MA has close links with the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy which runs a regular seminar and lecture series and whose staff include Eric Alliez, Howard Caygill, Peter Hallward, Catherine Malabou, Peter Osborne and Stella Stanford.

• This course covers new approaches to critical theory.

• You will benefit from topical courses and research-led teaching.

• You will be taught by leading researchers, keeping you up to date with the latest developments in the field.

• Regular visits by international scholars add a further dimension to your studies.

• This course benefits from the vibrant London Graduate School environment (thelondongraduateschool.co.uk).

• The course comprises a strong interdisciplinary arts and humanities context.

• You will have the opportunity to be involved in major international conferences and events.

Teaching staff

Prof. Fred Botting’s research interests include cultural and critical theory from general economy and psychoanalysis, to gothic media, fiction and horror. His two most recent books are Limits of Horror and Gothic Romanced. He is co-editor (with Scott Wilson) of Bataille: A Critical Reader.

Dr Eleni Ikoniadou’s work is situated at the intersection of media theory, contemporary philosophy and digital art, and has appeared in journals and book collections such as Culture Machine, Leonardo and An Unlikely Alliance: Thinking Environments with Deleuze/ Guattari. Her writing opts for the construction of non-reductive, relational, transdisciplinary methods, after thinkers like Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, William James, Henri Bergson, Susanne Langer, AN Whitehead, Isabelle Stengers.

Prof. Matthew Pateman is Head of School of Performance and Screen Studies and works on popular aesthetics, critical theory, television and literature. His publications include The Aesthetics of Culture in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Joss Whedon.

Prof. Martin McQuillan is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. His recent publications include Deconstruction After 9/11 and Roland Barthes, or, The Profession of Cultural Studies. He works in the spaces between literary theory, art theory, cultural studies and continental philosophy, and writes on the work of Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous and Paul de Man.

Prof. John Mullarkey is the author of Bergson and Philosophy, Post- Continental Philosophy: An Outline and Philosophy and the Moving Image: Refractions of Reality, and is an editor of Film-Philosophy. His work explores variations of ‘non-standard philosophy’. He is currently working on a book-film project dealing with the representations of animals in film and philosophy.

Dr Hager Weslati’s teaching is at the interface of philosophy/literature and media/culture. Her research interests are focused on interpretations of Hegelian philosophy and on the critical theories of space, with particular interest in nomadology, heterotopias and mobility. Her current book project concerns the thought of Alexandre Kojeve.

Prof. Scott Wilson’s two most recent books are: The Order of Joy: Beyond the Cultural Politics of Enjoyment and Great Satan’s rage: American negativity and rap/metal in the age of supercapitalism. He is co-editor (with Michael Dillon) of the Journal for Cultural Research and co-editor (with Fred Botting) of The Bataille Reader. His research interests include cultural and critical theory, particularly psychoanalysis and the legacy of Georges Bataille. He is currently working on a book on the audio-unconscious.

Prof. Simon Morgan Wortham is co-director of the London Graduate School. His recent books include Counter-Institutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University; Derrida: Writing Events and The Derrida Dictionary. He is currently writing a book provisionally titled The Poetics of Sleep.

Entry requirements

Applicants will need an upper second-class degree or above, or equivalent, in one of the respective disciplines.

International students

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is IELTS of 6.5 overall with 7.0 in Writing and special conditions for students who require a Tier 4 student visa. Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements on the course webpage, which includes details of other qualifications we’ll consider.


One year full time or two years part time


Full-time students take taught modules over two semesters and complete the dissertation during the summer. We use a range of teaching formats, including lectures, discussion groups, workshops and individual supervision.

The study commitment may include evening, weekend or day-release sessions, and can vary from semester to semester. Timetables are subject to change. Please contact the postgraduate admissions office for further details.


The course employs a range of methods of assessment across the programme. These include essays, research papers, reports, poster presentations and the dissertation.

Contact: Professor Fred Botting ()

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