About the Center

About the Center for Critical and Cultural Theory

The Rice Center for Critical and Cultural Theory (3CT) was created in academic year 2012-2013 to promote intellectual synergy and community among Rice faculty and graduate students whose work is informed by a deep and sustained engagement with critical and cultural theory and their ongoing development and permutations. Though housed in the School of Humanities, and drawing primarily on faculty and students from the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Architecture, the Center welcomes and encourages faculty and students in any field whose work is framed by an intensive engagement with critical and cultural theory and its methodological innovations.

This breadth of reception is consonant with the Center’s commitment to support research that is problem-driven and draws on a broad array of conceptual resources and intellectual backgrounds to address pressing questions of broad social and cultural significance, including the reformulation of problems in the sciences in their social dimension. The program’s primary pedagogical aim is thus to equip students to engage ambitious and synthetic research projects of social and cultural significance in a wide range of areas such as new media studies, biopolitics and biophilosophy, race and ethnicity studies, science and technology studies, ecocriticism and environmental humanities, animal studies, medical humanities, transnationalism, art and architecture, psychoanalysis, and political and social theory–just to name a few of the more established pursuits in which a strong theoretical background is indispensible.

The Center’s grounding rationale is that the complexity of these sorts of socially and culturally significant questions requires a breadth of intellectual training and rigor of theoretical articulation not available in the traditional disciplines and departments alone, constituted as they are by the legacy of the disciplinary specialization that defined the nineteenth-century university in the United States (and, before that, its models in Europe). The Center is therefore committed to the view that rigorous theoretical training enables empowering reflection upon the dominant forms of disciplinary norms, practices, and protocols and their historically and socially constituted nature. The Center thus aims to strengthen and enrich how its participants understand and relate to their own “home” disciplines.