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Graduate Concentration in Critical Studies

The Critical Studies Concentration (CCS) allows MFA and MA students to earn a mark of distinction demonstrating their dedication to the history, theory and criticism of various humanities subjects. Formed by the successful completion of (15) fifteen credits (or five, 3-credit courses) of graduate-level work in courses included on the lists below and distributed as follows: at least one course in each of three categories:

  1. History;
  2. Theory; and
  3. Criticism/Practice;

Alternatively, a student may complete twelve credits (or four, 3-credit courses) of graduate-level work in courses included on the lists below with at least one course in each of the three categories as well as a written capstone project approved by the MACS director and deemed to be professional, scholarly work (an article, a conference paper, etc.).

  • Deepen your knowledge in a wide range of fields in an interdisciplinary fashion
  • Build and sharpen your research and writing skills equipping you to work at a professional scholarly level.
  • Develop publishable or professional-level work (symposia, blogs, etc.) as a means of expanding your creative and scholarly portfolio
  • Train in seeing through professional documents (scholarly essay, creative writing, artist's statement, et al.) from planning through completion
  • Conduct graduate-level research in humanities subjects
  • Master an area or period of critical theory at the graduate level


Students interested in completing the Concentration in Critical Studies (CCS) must meet with the director of the Critical Studies, MA program to review and approve your curricular plans, review courses not listed on this page, and complete a Degree Plan Audit Worksheet listing the courses to be pursued and locating where coursework falls within the three categories of study outlined below.

Requirements for the Graduate Concentration in Critical Studies

Course TitleCourse #Credits

A. History Courses

Choose at least one course from the following: 3 – 6
Any course with an AH prefix AH
Art, Architecture and Ideology under Totalitarian Regimes AH 459
Art and Architecture of Mesoamerica AH 380
Art, Architecture and the Open City AH 377
Graduate Colloquium II CRST 5650
Artists as Writers AH 5451
Art Meets Ecology AH 435
A Baroque Feast AH 334
Capitalism and its Critics SSCI 306
Contemporary American Poetry LIT 324
Contemp Asia: Postcolonialism, Tourism, Museum, & Cultural Object AH 464
Contemporary Drama LIT 302
Contemporary Portraiture AH 465
Crisis Century I CRT 5524
Crisis Century II CRT 5525
Gender in Film FILM 412
Geometric Abstraction AH 477
Graduate Survey AH 5582
History of Film AH 390
History of Photography AH 332
Islamic Art History AH 340
Medieval Art AH 348
Medium in Contemporary Art AH 483
Metaphorical Aspects of Contemporary Art AH 412
Performance Studies and Cyber Theory LIT 388
Postwar American Fiction LIT 383
Problems in Contemporary Art AH 370
Russian Literature LIT 371
Queer Literature and Theory LIT 368
Sites, Places, Monuments AH 5550
Trauma AH 5479
Travel: Gods, Graves and Scholars AH 5458
Visual Culture & the Holocaust AH 5622
War and Literature LIT 358
Women in the History of Art AH 472
Yeats, Joyce, Woolf LIT 411

B. Theory Courses

Choose at least one course from the following: 3 – 6
Forensic Aesthetics CRT 5580
Art History and its Methods
Aesthetics and Critical Theory I CRST 5500
Aesthetics and Critical Theory II CRST 5550
Contemporary Political Theory PHIL 371
Design Theory & Practice Seminar CRT 5402
Feminist Theories LIT 372
Graduate Readings Seminar CRT 5635
Masculinities LIT 361
Nietzsche in His Time and Ours PHIL 348
Reading Signs: Semiotics LIT 319
What is Beauty? PHIL 310

C. Criticism / Practice Courses

Choose at least one course from the following: 3 – 6
Critical Voices CRST 5525
Philosophy & Pedagogy ED 5533
Writing for Artists, Critics and Curators CP 5500
Connecting Audiences CP 5810
Thesis Methods Workshop I CRST 5700
Thesis Methods Workshop II CRST 5800
Advanced Creative Writing CWRT 5403
Exhibition Development Seminar AH/EX 405
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Curatorial Practice CP 5800
Design/Writing/Research CRT 5574
Archive/Gallery/Museum Practicum AH 395
Doing Documentary Work LIT 362
Total Credits for the Graduate Concentration in Critical Studies

Alternate Academic Criteria

  • Professional internships held at local cultural institutions may, with approval from the MACS director, count toward this concentration, most likely under Category A or C, as determined by the MACS director.
  • Any 300- or 400-level liberal arts course must be reviewed and approved by the director of MACS to ensure additional graduate-level work is completed.
  • Given that the graduate curriculum is constantly changing and evolving, students may also complete a combination of 1- and 2-credit courses or workshops toward the completion of the concentration with the approval of the MACS director.
  • In order to determine if a course not listed above can be counted toward the concentration requirements, the student must consult with the current director of the MACS program.

Eligibility and Progress to Completion

  • All graduate students admitted to MA and MFA programs are eligible to participate in this concentration.
  • Credits already completed toward the degree may be counted toward this concentration, whether central to a specific degree program or as elective credit. The courses counted toward the concentration, however, must all be approved by the director of the MA in Critical Studies program, i.e., the designated supervisor of this concentration.
  • Students must pass each class counted toward the concentration; if taking an advanced undergraduate course, this means earning a "B" or better grade for each course.
  • This concentration does not specify residency, i.e., if distance/online courses are deemed appropriate for the concentration, then those courses completed at a distance/online may count toward it. Right now, there are no current classes included on the three area lists of the concentration, though we expect this to change in time.
  • Credits may be transferred in toward the requirements of the concentration only with the approval of the current director of the MA in Critical Studies program.
  • Final granting of the concentration requires the signed approval of the MA in Critical Studies director, who will review the transcript of the degree candidate.