EAS2090 - Humanities after the Human: Further Adventures in Critical Theory

2023/4 Module description

StaffProfessor Jana Funke - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

Humanities After the Human considers how critical theory – a constellation of writing that includes philosophy, sociology, political manifesto, and cultural commentary – has decentred the (white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cisgender, male) human subject as the privileged site of meaning, knowledge, and creativity. In so doing, this course tries to imagine those yet-to-be-enumerated possibilities of being and relating to others and the world around us that models of subjectivity in late consumer capitalism tend to foreclose. You will build on concepts introduced in Approaches to Criticism and reflect on the challenges that critical theory poses for the study of literature, the limits of the self, possibilities of kinship, and the organisation of social life. It is advantageous for you to be familiar with the material in Approaches, although it is not a prerequisite.

Module aims

On this module we will interrogate the assumptions bound up with white Euro-American neoliberal subjectivity, such as interiority, individualism, private property, and naturalised partitions. How have critics deterritorialised the received coordinates of self and world, public and private, mind and body, man and woman, human and non-human? What happens when familiar myths of being are left behind in favour of new utopian communalities, queer and trans futures, and rhizomatic connections? And what does this mean for how we read literature and other cultural texts?

Over the course of Humanities After the Human, we will read approximately two pieces of critical theory each week, exploring the challenges that twentieth- and twenty-first-century theory present to the notion of the sovereign neoliberal self as a parameter of knowledge. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an informed appreciation of contemporary theoretical turns and approaches
  • 2. Demonstrate a developed ability to apply skills of close reading, editorial judgement, and of comparative analysis
  • 3. Demonstrate an informed critical understanding of relevant scholarly work in the field of theory

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to analyse theoretical concepts and to relate their concerns and their modes of expression to debates surrounding the development of the humanities
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to apply these theoretical approaches to literary texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Through seminar work, demonstrate communication skills, an ability to work both individually and in groups, and demonstrate proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 8. Through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 9. Through research and writing, demonstrate a capacity to make critical use of secondary material, to question assumptions, and to reflect on their own learning process
  • 10. Through sitting their final examination, demonstrate proficiency in the use of memory and in the development, organisation, and expression of ideas under pressure of time

Syllabus plan

Whilst the exact content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that Humanities After the Human will (a) build upon theoretical schools introduced on the first-year module Approaches to Criticism, and (b) consider newer bodies of critical theory that have come to prominence this century. Theoretical paradigms studied on the module may include intersectional feminism, queer theory, trans studies, world literary production, object agency, and animal theory.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching11Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching27.511 x 2.5 hour seminars
Guided independent study22Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study75.5Seminar preparation (Individual)
Guided independent study164Reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan750 words1-9Peer-assessed, with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay452000 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Examination452 hours1-6, 8-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Module participation10Continuous1-7, 9Oral feedback from tutor in office hours

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6, 8-9Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-6, 8-10Referral/Deferral period
Module participationRepeat study or Mitigation1-7, 9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

There are no books to buy for Humanities After the Human. All reading is available on the module ELE. Students will be expected to have a copy of the required reading with them for relevant teaching events, which could mean:

  • Printing out a copy from the ELE
  • Having a copy of the reading on a tablet or laptop
  • Borrowing the source texts from the Library
  • Buying a module Reading Pack from the Print Unit

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

A selection of ebooks and scanned chapters are available via the ELE and the University of Exeter Library Catalogue webpage.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Critical Theory, Human, Planet, World, Gender, Class, Sexuality, Race, Identity

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