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Critique rather than criticism - Foundations and implications of affirmative methodologies

Graduate School, Arts at Aarhus University


The course will address the question ‘what is critique?' from different disciplines within the humanities and examine various historical and contemporary forms of critique. In particular, the course will develop a Foucauldian critique of traditional forms of critique and a Foucauldian distinction between critique and criticism.  In addition, the course will draw upon work on critique by Butler, Braidotti, Latour, Sedgwick. The lectures and participants will discuss foundations and implications of for instance suspicious, affirmative and norm-critical approaches. Just as we will present and discuss a variety of theoretical, methodological, analytical and ethical challenges of (different) critical approaches, researchers are confronted with during and after formulating research questions, conducting research, writing up and publishing. Conceptions of literary critique will also be part of the discussion.


The purpose of this course is to make the PhD-students able to identify and formulate the possibilities, foundations and implications of critique in her/his thesis and research. The participants will be able to distinguish various forms of critique  and to position her/his approach in relation to various forms of critique.


The course will introduce a range of contemporary approaches of affirmative critique (which is drawing on disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, education, and ‘margin studies’ (like cultural studies, gender studies, queer studies, race studies) and bring to light important concepts, ethics, distinctions eg. in these approaches: Focusing on critique as a methodological approach rather than criticism as a moralizing activity should help the students make and elaborate choices related to their own projects and to embed research ethics as part and parcel of research processes. It is hoped that the course will give the student an initial capacity to analyze the extent of these issues and how they can be confronted, but also help them narrow down their choices and lay the foundations for appropriate methodological, ethically sound  and empirical analysis.

Both theoretical discussions and empirical examples are central in this course, and will continuously be related to challenges arising from the participants’ particular research. We thus aim to relate the ethical and methodological challenges in each participant’s research to the overall scope and methods of the course. Based on the students own research we will discuss the possibilities and pitfalls of different form of criticism, ethics and critique in different phases of knowledge production.


Target group:

The course is relevant for all PhD-students wondering about what it could be to do critical research




The teaching style is a mixture of lectures, discussion seminars with short presentations, group work and lap top hours. A large part of the course consists of dialogues in which students are expected to be active. Offering case-stories to learn from, we will have discussions of the students’ incomplete research designs as our basis for exploring how different concepts, ethics, and methodological principles of critique fruitfully can be translated and reworked into their projects. 






Professor Emirita dr. phil. Nina Lykke (Linköping universitet),


Associate professor, PhD Brigitte Bargetz (University of Vienna) brigitte.bargetz

Associate professor, PhD Jette Kofoed (DPU/Aarhus University)

Professor, dr. phil. Sverre Raffnsøe (Copenhagen Business School)

Professor MSO, PhD Dorthe Staunæs (DPU/Aarhus University) (chair/course organiser)

Complete list of lecturers will be provided shortly.

Dates and time:

5 - 7 December 2017

Each day from 9.30-15.30


DPU, Aarhus University, Tuborgvej 164, 2400 Copenhagen

Building A, room A303: 5 + 7 December

Building A, room A214: 6 December


Application / registration: 

Please apply for a spot via no later than 1 November 2017.

As part of the application process you will be asked to provide project title and a short summary of your project. We recommend that you prepare your summary in advance and copy it into the relevant text box.



Course dates
05 December 2017 - 07 December 2017
Dorthe Staunæs and others
Campus Emdrup, Tuborgvej 164
Building A - rooms A303 and A214
København NV
3 points

If you have any questions about this site, please contact Danske Universiteter via mail: dkuni @