PhD Seminar: Power, Resistance, and Socio-Political Transformation

Institution: Washington State University

Department: Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs

Course-level: PhD seminar

Format:  Seminar


This seminar engages with central themes and approaches of three Continental political philosophies: German critical theory, French post-structuralism, and Italian political thought. This course has three goals. First, we engage with these theories to obtain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of power in modern societies. Second, we analyze the ways in which these theories might us to rethink political resistance. Third, we analyze the ways in which the respective thinkers conceptualize socio-political transformation. We start out with Marx and Adorno (German critical theory), followed by Foucault and Lacan (French post-structuralism), and conclude with Agamben and Cavarero (Italian political thought). We will read both original texts as well as secondary literature on each of these thinkers. The seminar is primarily discussion based.


This study of the texts will improve students ability to 1) obtain an overview of the Continental political theory traditions; 2) understand the concepts of power, resistance, and socio-political transformation as developed by the discussed thinkers; 3) articulate their own formulations of these theoretical concepts (based on or depart from the thinkers we discussed) 4) enhance their research and writing skills in political theory.