Theoretical Humanities Micro-Credential

Students observing a letterpress workshop.

The micro-credential in Theoretical Humanities introduces graduate students (MA and PhD) as well as advanced undergraduate students (who intend to pursue graduate education) to the interdisciplinary theoretical methods of interpreting culture and literature. Through this program you will gain familiarity with advanced methods of interpretation in different humanistic disciplines: literary and cultural studies, philosophy, art theory, and film. This program consists of three graduate courses: Introduction to Theory, plus two courses that you select from the regular graduate offerings in Comparative Literatures. 

Academic Requirements

Level: Graduate 

Who is eligible: Both UB and non-UB students

Non-UB students must apply as a non-degree seeking student.

Instruction method: In Person (no courses offered online)

Time to completion: 2 semesters

Skills gained:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Global/Intercultural Fluency 
  • Oral/Written Communications


No Prerequisites

Required courses 

  • Introduction to Theory (COL 680)
  • Two "special topics" graduate seminars from regular COL offerings, A section only.

Derrida’s Imagination
David Johnson
COL 720

Virtually no one writing on Derrida takes up his relation to the imagination and, to be sure, Derrida himself never wrote a book or even very many articles on the imagination. Yet, the imagination figures throughout his work, from the very early "Force and Signification" to the very late seminars on the death penalty. In this seminar we will try to "systematize" wha the imagination does or threatens to do, how it works in Derrida. We will read, at the very least, the following texts: "Force and Signification" (in Writing and Difference), Voice and Phenomena (selections), Of Grammatology (selections),  Margins of Philosophy (selections), "Economimesis" (in Diacritics), and  Truth in Painting (selections). There may be others. We will want to understand the place of the imagination in Derrida's understanding of life death, of time, of truth. In what way does the imagination, in all its duplicity, provide a resource for Derrida's thinking? The seminar may begin with a brief (one session, perhaps two) review of the imagination in Aristotle and Kant.

Requirements: attendance, participation, one research paper (15-20 pages). 

Poetry, Technology & Avant Gardes
Krzysztof Ziarek
COL 721

While discourses about globalization focus predominantly on social, economic, and political issues, we will try to understand the significance of avant-garde art and literature for thinking critically about arts, technology, and the meaning of “world” in the age of globalization. We will interrogate the label “avant-garde” and the role of “the poetic” in its radicalism. To help us examine these issues, we will look at the continuing relevance of several radical artistic practices in the 20th and 21st centuries and discuss them side by side with theoretical material. Futurist texts will serve as the first example of a globally understood avant-garde. In the context of the early 20th century avant-gardes, we will examine the Dadaist work of Schwitters and Tzara, and the writings of Mina Loy, while more contemporary art and literature will likely include Arte Povera, Eduardo Kac, Bill Viola, as well as poetry (Erin Mouré, Myung Mi Kim, Paul Celan). The reading list will also comprise texts by Heidegger and Nancy, as well as essays on aesthetics, information arts and new media.


Students will learn advanced methods of interpretation in the humanities and their philosophical presuppositions. They will learn how to employ these methods to interpret critically cultural and literary productions. Students will learn how to employ appropriate interpretive skills in research and writing. 

These objectives will be assessed on the basis of participation in class, presentations, and research papers. These objectives are achieved when students earn at least a B grade or higher in all three courses.

Final Requirements

  • Titles of the three completed courses with grade of B or better. 
  • Titles and the abstracts of the three research papers. 
  • Optional: Research paper that best exemplifies the work that they completed in the program

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Apply to the Theoretical Humanities Micro-Credential

UB grad students may simply enroll in courses after filling out the form.

Non-UB students must apply as a non-degree seeking student.

If you do not have a UB Person Number, enter "N/A"