School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

Intellectual History and Critical Theory

Intellectual history and critical theory have been internationally recognised as major research strengths of Modern Languages at Nottingham for over 30 years.

Our work covers the history of ideas in all of the languages and cultures on which we research, from the early-modern period to post-war and contemporary thought.

We have expertise in many areas that have contributed to the flourishing of theoretical approaches, from:

  • The 1960s to the present, notably Marxism
  • Russian formalism
  • Poetics and narratology, structuralism and poststructuralism
  • Gender studies
  • Queer theory
  • Psychoanalysis, postcolonialism and ordinary language philosophy 

Research and activities

We work at the interface of philosophy and politics and literary and cultural criticism. Interests include:

  • The concept of literary tradition and its relation to national identity in 19th century Russia
  • Zeitgeist in German and British critical discourse of the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Theories of hospitality from the Enlightenment to the present
  • The representation of Spanish intellectuals
  • Philosophy of technology
  • Intellectuals in 20th century Germany
  • The place of cybernetics and biology in French post-war intellectual discourse.

Especially significant is the number of specialists of the work of individual thinkers such as Hegel, Wittgenstein, Bakhtin, Benjamin, Unamuno, Blanchot, Sartre, Beauvoir, Fanon, Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Derrida, Bourdieu, Foucault, Irigaray, Deleuze and Rancière.

Research groups include Science Technology Culture and Translating Thought and the Centre for Critical Theory.

Postgraduate study

Our MA and PhD students pursue research on a wide range of topics relating to Intellectual history and critical theory, especially (but not exclusively) in the postwar and contemporary periods.

Recent and current projects include:

  • Roland Barthes’s lectures at the Collège de France
  • Time in the philosophy of Gabriel Marcel
  • The rhetoric of the sublime in the works of Maurice Blanchot
  • Gilles Deleuze’s society of control
  • Peronism and the micropolitics of desire
  • Volkskultur as a debate in German and Austrian cultural theory from 1884 to 1939.

You can find out more about our postgraduate research opportunities by consulting the online prospectus

Online prospectus



For enquiries, please contact the School's Director of Research or relevant experts listed below:


School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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