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Critical Theory: Definitions & Keywords

Critical Theory

There are many types of theories that fall under "critical theory." Below you will find keywords and subject headings for various theories; for a more thorough description of each theory as well as the main theorists for each, see the document in the "Descriptions" box on the right.

Theories & Keywords

Theory Keywords
Semiotics & Structuralism sign, signifier, signified, slippage, codes, referent, poeticity, langue/parole

Deconstruction/
Poststructuralism

deconstruction, différance, discourse, simulacrum, simulation, aura, authenticity, marked and unmarked terms, logos, supplement
Postmodernism pop, play, pastiche, appropriation, imitation

 

Psychoanalysis

subjectivity, fetish, gaze, primitivism, instinct, degenerate, repression, desire, fantasy, reality-principle, sublimation, metaphor and metonymy, parapraxis, gaze, glance, transposition
Feminist theory & Queer theory gender & sexuality, patriarchy, gaze, heteronormativity

 

Postcolonial theory

race, ethnicity, Orientalism, imperialism, essentialism, otherness, absence, authenticity, assimilation, resistance, mimicry, exploitation, reception, subaltern

Critical Theory Table with Descriptions

Subject Headings & Art

Critical theory subject headings Critical theory subject headings specific to art
Semiotics; Iconicity; Intermediality; Intertextuality; Signs and symbols; Structuralism Art and philosophy; Difference (philosophy) in art
Poststructuralism; Deconstruction Deconstructivism (architecture)
Gaze Psychoanalysis in art
Feminist theory; Gender; Gender identity Feminism in art; Feminist art criticism
Postcolonialism; Race; Identity (philosophical concept) Identity (philosophical concept) in art; Postcolonialism and the arts; Blacks in art; Multiculturalism in art
Homosexuality and philosophy; Queer theory Art and society
Marxist criticism  
Many thanks to Amy Fry and Bowling Green State University Libraries for allowing the use of these tables.
College for Creative Studies website