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Jim SteintragerWhat is critical theory? Can you give an elevator pitch for your center? I am frequently asked these sorts of questions, and, from a certain perspective, they seem perfectly reasonable. My fallback for the first question turns—inevitably for a scholar of languages and literature—to etymology: theory, from the Greek for “contemplation” or simply “looking,” and critical, meaning “discerning.” That’s far too general, of . . .

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A philisophical approach to culture, and especially to literature, that seeks to confront the social, historical, and ideological forces and structures that produce and constrain it.

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