Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, and Philosophy

Amy Allen: The End of Progress

My anxiety about the future of critical theory is partly that if it doesn’t figure out a way to engage more with other kinds of critical traditions—postcolonial theory is one example, but also feminist theory and queer theory and critical philosophy of race—then I worry about the extent to which this project has a robust future.
Amy Allen

Amy Allen discusses her book The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory with Chris Richardson. She is Liberal Arts Professor of Philosophy and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Head of the Philosophy Department at Penn State University. Allen is the author of The Power of Feminist Theory: Domination, Resistance, Solidarity; The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory; and The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory. She is also co-editor in chief of Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory and general editor of the Columbia University Press book series New Directions in Critical Theory.

RECOMMENDED READINGS

Foucault's first major work, and still one of my favorites. Not only is it beautifully and powerfully written, with a searing moral clarity, but it also contains in germinal form many of the major ideas about power, rationality, and sexuality that Foucault developed later in his career.

Adorno at his grumpy best, offering an aphoristic, micrological critique of late capitalist American culture; the best introduction to the melancholy science that is Adornian critical theory. 

A brilliant reading of Foucault's History of Madness, arguing for the centrality of this text to queer theory. 

A landmark work of subaltern studies and postcolonial theory that brings insights from these fields powerfully to bear on historiography.  

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Whitehead's novel is not only a powerful meditation on racism and the brutal legacy of slavery but also a fascinating reflection on the seductions and limitations of the idea of historical progress.