A one-year, three-semester MA program in critical social theory focused on the arts, including the study of art theory and aesthetics, social history, social theory and the history of art.
- Focal points of the program are the Proseminars on the “The Situation of the Arts: The Level of the Problem” and the Serious Times Lecture Series, which poses the question, “Why doesn’t the United States make social progress?”
- Up to 14 students are selected annually by the Committee on Graduate Admissions.
- Graduates of Critical Theory and the Arts remain ongoing members of the Serious Times Lecture Series and of the program’s intellectual community.
“Art knows us better than we know ourselves.” –T. W. Adorno
The program in Critical Theory and the Arts is an intensive yearlong study for students with an edgy involvement in the problems and questions of making art today — in what art has become, and is becoming — and who are no less engaged in wanting to understand what is at stake in the relation of these questions to contemporary social conflict and reality.
The program responds to a need: For thinking about art has never before been so protean, so broadly inventive and urgently central to the whole of social, philosophical and political reflection. Every major area of thought now turns considerable attention to art in expectation that art will provide the key to solving its central questions.
At the same time, in art itself, every aspect of its reality presents dynamic conflicts and puzzles that demand theoretical reflection. Those directly involved in the arts can no longer imagine that artists proceed naïvely, mixing passion with thin air. While artists of earlier generations once struggled to disguise the thinking labor that went into their work, today art theory has become part — often an explicit part — of all art-making. To an unprecedented degree, developments in art theory even directly transform art.
What the arts once were, they soon enough will no longer be; in large measure, they have already been irreversibly transformed. For artists and graduate students from several fields of inquiry, the need collaboratively to understand what has happened, what is happening and what is at stake is salient.
The focal points of the program are the two proseminars, The Situation of the Arts: “The Level of the Problem” and the Serious Times Lecture Series, which poses the question, “Why doesn’t the United States make social progress?” Discussions are led by New York City intellectuals and internationally acclaimed visiting artists.
Graduates of Critical Theory and the Arts become members of the Serious Times Lecture Series and part of the program’s intellectual community.
A small group of students, a maximum of 14, is selected annually by the Committee on Graduate Admissions. We are able to provide some financial assistance and a number of teaching assistantships to our students.