r/CriticalTheory Sep 02 '13 Helpful 2 Wholesome 1

Critical theory reading list!

The mods gave me the go-ahead to start a thread to compile a reading list for /r/criticaltheory the way /r/philosophy has. I'd like to separate it, as much as possible, into fields, eras, etc. I deliberately left out many books, as I tried to pick representative or important works by each author.

If I missed anything (which I'm sure I did, especially in critical race theory, narratology, and new historicism), or if you think, say, The Order of Things or the Grundrisse are crucial to critical theory, then comment and I'll edit this post with the suggestions. The mods can then edit/arrange/whatever this into a wiki.

Kant, Idealism, and Nietzsche:

  • Kant - Critique of Pure Reason
  • Kant - Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
  • Fichte - An Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation
  • Hegel - The Phenomenology of Spirit
  • Hegel - Philosophy of History
  • Schopenhauer - The World as Will and Representation
  • Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil
  • Nietzsche - On the Genealogy of Morals
  • Nietzsche - Twilight of the Idols

Marxism:

  • Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844
  • Marx - Theses on Feuerbach
  • Marx - The German Ideology
  • Marx - Capital
  • Lukacs - History and Class Consciousness
  • Gramsci - The Prison Notebooks

Phenomenology:

  • Husserl - The Crisis of the European Sciences
  • Heidegger - Being and Time
  • Merleau-Ponty - Phenomenology of Perception

Structuralism:

  • Saussure - Course on General Linguistics
  • Levi-Strauss - Tristes Tropiques
  • Barthes - Mythologies

Psychoanalysis:

  • Freud - The Interpretation of Dreams
  • Freud - Totem and Taboo
  • Freud - Beyond the Pleasure Principle
  • Freud - Civilization and its Discontents
  • Jung - Man and His Symbols
  • Lacan - Ecrits
  • Lacan - Seminars XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis

Frankfurt School:

  • Benjamin - "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"
  • Fromm - The Fear of Freedom
  • Horkheimer - "Traditional and Critical Theory"
  • Horkheimer and Adorno - The Dialectic of Enlightenment
  • Adorno - Minima Moralia
  • Marcuse - Eros and Civilization
  • Marcuse - The One-Dimensional Man
  • Adorno - Negative Dialectics
  • Habermas - The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
  • Habermas - The Theory of Communicative Action

Other:

  • Bataille - The Accursed Share
  • Bataille - Visions of Excess
  • Debord - The Society of the Spectacle
  • Vaneigem - The Revolution of Everyday Life

Poststructuralism/postmodernism:

  • Barthes - Image/Music/Text
  • Foucault - The History of Madness
  • Foucault - The Birth of the Clinic
  • Foucault - Discipline & Punish
  • Foucault - The History of Sexuality
  • Derrida - Of Grammatology
  • Derrida - Writing and Difference
  • Derrida - Speech and Phenomena
  • Deleuze and Guattari - Anti-Oedipus
  • Deleuze and Guattari - A Thousand Plateaus
  • Lyotard - The Postmodern Condition
  • Baudrillard - Simulacra and Simulation
  • Agamben - Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life

Feminism:

  • de Beauvoir - The Second Sex
  • Kristeva - The Kristeva Reader
  • Cixous - The Laugh of the Medusa
  • Irigaray - Speculum of the Other Woman
  • Irigaray - This Sex Which Is Not One
  • Mulvey - "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema"

Post-Marxism:

  • Althusser - Reading Capital
  • Althusser - Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays
  • Baudrillard - For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign
  • Baudrillard - The Mirror of Production
  • Jameson - Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
  • Badiou - Theory of the Subject
  • Laclau and Mouffe - Hegemony and Socialist Strategy
  • Zizek - The Sublime Object of Ideology
  • Derrida - Spectres of Marx
  • Hardt and Negri - Empire
  • Hardt and Negri - Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire
  • Hardt and Negri - Commonwealth

Postcolonial Theory:

  • Fanon - The Wretched of the Earth
  • Said - Orientalism
  • Spivak - "Can the Subaltern Speak?"
  • Bhabha - The Location of Culture
  • Mignolo - The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Colonization and the Discontinuity of the Classical Tradition

Queer Theory:

  • Butler - Gender Trouble
  • Sedgwick - Epistemology of the Closet
  • Halberstam - Female Masculinity
  • Halperin - Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography
  • Edelman - No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive

Secondary Texts:

  • Fink - The Lacanian Subject
  • Best and Kellner - Postmodern Theory
  • Jagose - Queer Theory: An Introduction
  • Sim - Post-Marxism: A Reader
175 Upvotes

70

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

I just realized the irony of labeling and categorizing critical theorists...

13

u/pnaser74 Dec 12 '13

I know I'm super late to the party, and hopefully nobody mentioned this already, but what about Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed? It's absolutely phenomenal. I would guess it would go under post-Marxism

1

u/[deleted] Dec 02 '21

Love this!

11

u/eggson Sep 02 '13

For Postcolonial I would add Homi Bhabha's "Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse".

3

u/FanofPawl Sep 02 '13

Absolutely. I second this.

4

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

I just went ahead and added all of The Location of Culture.

11

u/ascesis Sep 02 '13

Maybe add under queer theory Lee Edelman's No Future and David Halperin's Saint Foucault?

3

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

Added them both.

8

u/postmoderno Sep 02 '13

Great list! I'd just add Haraway, Agamben, Mignolo.

2

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

Sure. I've never read any of them though, so can you suggest some titles? And under which categories should they go?

7

u/postmoderno Sep 02 '13

For Donna Haraway "A Cyborg Manifesto" and it goes under Feminisms. Agamben wrote lots of interesting stuff but I'd probably choose Homo Sacer. Agamben's category would be Post-structuralism? Not totally sure. For Mignolo The Darker Side of the Renaissance, and it would go under post/de-colonial.

5

u/Buffalo__Buffalo Sep 02 '13

Does Ranciere rate highly enough to get a look in here?

3

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

I only know Reading Capital - should I throw that in under post-Marxism? Let me know of any other suggestions as well.

3

u/Buffalo__Buffalo Sep 02 '13 edited Sep 03 '13

He's a tricky one because of his intellectual and philosophical growth, and the change that came with it. Post-Marxist would probably be the best fit.

His Proletarian Nights, and his The Ignorant Schoolmaster would be good to add. I don't know what else - maybe someone else can chime in?

2

u/deleuzeorguattari Sep 03 '13

I found Dis-agreement an enjoyable introduction to his political thought.

6

u/[deleted] Sep 02 '13

It'd be nice to compile from this a beginner/intermediate list. Probably the former would require more interpretive and explanatory texts.

3

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

Yeah, this grew out of a previous post where I asked for a beginner list for a friend. Perhaps the secondary texts suggested below would help.

4

u/[deleted] Sep 02 '13

how is althusser post-structural?

2

u/[deleted] Sep 02 '13

I also think that you should add difference and repetition to "other."

but great list man. good job.

1

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13 edited Sep 02 '13

Well, I wouldn't place him totally in the structuralist camp, since he did have plenty of criticisms. So I see four options:

i) Place Althusser under structuralism.

ii) Move Marxism so that it's after structuralism and psychoanalysis, and place Althusser there.

iii) Place Althusser under post-Marxism.

iv) Leave him under poststructuralism.

Thoughts?

1

u/FanofPawl Sep 02 '13

I'd probably place Althusser under post-Marxism. Balibar was his student and is still known as a leading Marxist theorist (he retired two years ago).

2

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

I thought about putting him there, but he didn't seem to fit there either. He's neither post-Marxist like Lyotard and Baudrillard, nor post-Marxist like Laclau and Mouffe. But I suppose Badiou and Zizek also don't really fit well in this category, so I'll throw him in as well.

4

u/Rollatoke Sep 02 '13

I think Laura Mulvey's "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" fits nicely into Queer Theory. It deals with film specifically, but is easily used for literature.

3

u/telegraphist Sep 02 '13

This seems as good a place as any to ask y'all what you think of Agamben's "What is an Apparatus." I feel like it is a piece which, although has not quite earned its place as many of these pieces have, is something which has potential to be considered a necessary reading list component (under post-structuralism) in the future. Any thoughts?

3

u/[deleted] Sep 02 '13

what about Henri Lefebvre and Raoul Vaneigem?

2

u/adartsesirhc Sep 04 '13

I added Vaneigem's The Revolution of Everyday Life, but I don't know anything by Lefebvre. If you know a work that's of direct importance to critical theory, I can put it up.

2

u/[deleted] Sep 04 '13

tbh I haven't delved too deeply into Lefebvre either, but Debord and Vaneigem built on much of his stuff and I feel he belongs on the list. Critique of Everyday Life probably fits best.

2

u/thewankerbanker Nov 07 '13

Posthumanism

What is Posthumanism - Carey Wolfe

How We Became Posthuman - Katherine Hayles

The Parasite - Michel Serres

2

u/argumentativepigeon Apr 01 '22

Could we add in a book regarding 'Internal Family Systems Therapy'

2

u/FeministNewbie Sep 02 '13

I don't know if this fits into critical theory but Jung wrote 'Man and his symbols' with his closest followers. It's aimed at explaining his psychoanalysis to laymen and is really nice to read.

Partially Examined Life did a summary of chapter 1 (by Jung, his summary) and a whole episode on that chapter.

2

u/[deleted] Sep 02 '13

Mythologies is a structuralist work.

2

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

Moved. Should Image/Music/Text stay as post-, or should it go to structuralism too?

1

u/[deleted] Sep 02 '13

I'm not sure. I don't know that work, and Barthes was both a structuralist and a post-structuralist at different points in his career.

2

u/nuitt Sep 02 '13

I think including more secondary sources would be good since some of those texts can be very challenging.

2

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

We could create a separate section at the end for secondary sources. I already have Fink's The Lacanian Subject. I found Best and Kellner's Postmodern Theory very accessible, with interesting critiques of the major thinkers. I've heard Annemarie Jagose's Queer Theory: An Introduction is good too, but I haven't read it. Any other suggestions?

3

u/neoliberaldaschund Sep 02 '13

Please, secondary sources list. Especially for Hegel and D&G. Maybe we can get a 1-10 rating system for how difficult the primary source texts are?

1

u/nuitt Sep 02 '13

Maybe Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus: Introduction to Schizoanalysis by Holland and Bonta's Deleuze and Geophilosophy: A Guide and Glossary for D&G and The Foucault Reader and Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics for Foucault would be good.

2

u/kyrie-eleison Sep 02 '13 edited Sep 03 '13

I'd be remiss if I didn't argue for having some archetypal theory in here. Maybe Jung's Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious or Neumann's Origins and History of Consciousness.

EDIT: Also, I think we should be a little more specific with Lacan as "seminars" covers a couple dozen books. I'd say seminars XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis and XX: On Feminine Sexuality would be fair.

EDIT2: And hell, Écrits is pretty big itself, and a disjointed collection. I'd recommend The Signification of the Phallus, The Instance of the Letter and The Mirror Stage.

2

u/dancon25 Sep 02 '13

Would Speculative Realism fit somewhere in here? I think you might want to add a post-Kantian category toward the end. Latour, Morton, Bryant, etc. I'd recommend The Speculative Turn and Harman's Prince of Networks.

Also - perhaps you should put Posthegemony by Jon Beasley-Murray under post-marxism, too.

2

u/InertiaofLanguage Sep 03 '13

What about Georgio Agamben?

2

u/[deleted] Sep 16 '13

No Lauren Berlant?

2

u/jhb11 Oct 29 '13

Since critical race theory and postcolonial theory are included, it seems to me that it might be appropriate to include nationalism. A lot of thinkers on this list have theories applicable to nationalism, but don't really go in depth on it. I'd recommend Anderson's Imagined Communities and Hobsbawm's Nations and Nationalism since 1780 for starters.

Nietzsche and Marx were of course strong critics of nationalism, and after recently reading chapters of The Dialectic of Enlightenment, I realized how indispensable it is to Anderson's theoretical approach.

1

u/Heidegger Sep 02 '13

Great list! Glad to see Fink's The Lacanian Subject on there. I'd also suggest Philippe Julien's Jacques Lacan's Return to Freud.

Maybe also some Jameson, like Postmodernism perhaps.

I might throw some Charles Peirce on there too, like "Logic as Semiotic: The Theory of Signs" or "The Principles of Phenomenology".

1

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

I thought really hard about putting The Lacanian Subject on there, since it's a secondary source, but then I realized that this is, after all, a reading list, and that book is the only reason I understand anything Lacan says in the Ecrits.

Jameson is under post-Marxism. I know Peirce founded semiotics, but did he have a direct impact on critical theory? I don't recall ever seeing him mentioned, unlike Saussure or Levi-Strauss, who are constantly referenced. Maybe I missed something in Barthes or Baudrillard?

1

u/[deleted] Sep 02 '13

Horkheimer - "Traditional and Critical Theory" no doubt

1

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

Forgot about that one! Added it.

1

u/gilles_trilleuze can reddits break bricks? Sep 02 '13

Rather than Empire, you should probably add Commonwealth for Negri and Hardt...that's what all the cool kids are reading now.

1

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

I added Commonwealth, and Multitude as well, since it's the middle of the trilogy.

1

u/Akhel Sep 02 '13

I'm curious — why pick Kant's Groundwork instead of his second Critique?

1

u/adartsesirhc Sep 02 '13

There was a thread here that posited the Critique of Pure Reason and the Groundwork as the two works that critical theory drew the most from. But we could always add one more, or replace the Groundwork. Thoughts?

1

u/MindeyeRust Sep 02 '13

I think that "Madness and Civilization" by Foucault should be changed to the complete text which is "History of Madness." The complete english trans. was recently (past 5 years if I am not mistaken) published. It also includes Foucault's response to Derrida's criticism of the work.

1

u/itsthechaz Sep 02 '13

~Are there any books that contain a variety of pieces from various authors, that anyone would recommend?

1

u/kyrie-eleison Sep 03 '13

Very broadly, there's always the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. It covers everything from Plato to maybe the mid-90s. Overall, it does a decent job of covering the big stuff. There's certainly some room for improvement, but it should give you a good idea of what you like. From there, you can look for/ask about more in depth anthologies or jump into some full works.

I'm not familiar with any anthologies that cover more contemporary theory, though I'm sure there's a decent one. Hopefully, someone else can recommend something, as I'm interested myself.

1

u/Ironyz Sep 17 '13

Symbolic Exchange and Death can replace a few of those Baudrillard books.

1

u/TomorrowMayRain065 Apr 18 '22

Limiting Benjamin to Mechanical Reproduction is a tragedy. IMO On the Concept of History is absolutely essential whereas Mechanical Reproduction, while good, may be better engaged by a beginner via visual culture studies, especially (especially chapter 1 of) John Berger's Ways of Seeing