Theoretical and interdisciplinary in focus, the M.A. Program emphasizes contemporary issues concerning the interpretation and analysis of culture and politics. Using the terms 'culture' and 'politics' broadly, the Program responds to a situation in which the human sciences, without having resolved traditional problems of their various kinds of knowledge, have been overtaken by even more perplexing new issues. In the intellectual ferment of recent decades, new forms and areas of inquiry have come to the fore, confounding an older pattern of specialization and requiring a multiperspectival approach. At the same time, the self-certainty of time-honoured methods of humanistic inquiry has been undermined, and fundamental categories and assumptions (e.g., the integral subject, representationalist theories of language, instrumentalist concepts of politics, the culture/nature distinction) have been radically challenged by critical deconstructionist, feminist, ecological, queer, cybernetic and post-colonial forms of thought.
The aim of the Program is to enable students to engage self-critically with these issues in the context of substantive projects of research. Areas of concentration include textuality, semiotics, and discourse; nature, culture and technology (including media); gender, body and psyche; science as discourse and knowledge; social and political theory. The M.A. degree is intended both as a preparation for doctoral studies (whether in traditional or new areas of study) and as a qualification in itself for those seeking professional enrichment or re-orientation in such career fields as communications, the environment, education and law.
The M.A. Program was founded in 1988 by a group of faculty from a wide variety of disciplines, including Cultural Studies, Philosophy, History, English, Classics, Computer Studies and Sociology. The original name of the Program - Methodologies for the Study of Western History and Culture - was changed to Theory, Culture and Politics in 2002.
Students in the Theory, Culture, and Politics M.A. program may participate in the two following Graduate Collaborative Specialization programs, as part of their degree program, gaining recognized credentials in Feminist and Gender Studies and Aging Studies.