Post-foundational Discourse Theory in Humanities and Social Science Research

Post-foundational Discourse Theory in Humanities and Social Science Research

Course dates:
8 August, 2017 to 24 August, 2017
Degree and PhD students €990 / Professionals €1490
Engineering & Sciences, Multidisciplinary, Social Sciences
Application deadline:
Monday, 7 August, 2017
University of Helsinki
Helsinki, Finland

General information


Target students
Advanced bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students. No prerequisites but previous studies in social sciences or humanities are recommended.

In these turbulent times, it is important to focus on the founding processes and foundations of our social and political existence. Many structures, identities and ideas we have taken for granted, from democracy and equality to the very idea of truth itself, have been contested over the last years. Through theoretical discussions and empirical examples, this course explores the ways in which post-foundational thought can be of use in the social sciences and humanities to tackle such phenomena. A focus on discourse and meaning-making is a contemporary megatrend within the social sciences and humanities. Within this larger trend, post-foundational discourse theory forms a critical framework through which to understand the political and contested nature of various phenomena. By shifting the focus from taking political, economic and social concepts at their face value to the ways in which meaning-making always takes place through contingent concepts, discourses and structures we inhabit, post-foundational discourse theory will provide the students a distinct and a productive perspective from which to approach their topics of interest. The course discusses different approaches to post-foundationalism and allows students to develop their own perspective within this emerging field.

Learning objectives
The course will introduce to the students the basics of post-foundational discourse theory and selected related perspectives within the post-foundational tradition in social sciences and humanities. The students will be introduced to deconstruction, rhetoric, and psychoanalysis, particularly drawing on authors such as Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Ernesto Laclau, and Chantal Mouffe, as central to this tradition. The students will be able to establish the differences between these different approaches and authors’ work within the field of post-foundational theory, and assess their usefulness for particular research purposes. The broader aim of the course is to learn to engage in theoretical discussions within the social sciences and humanities and to connect these with empirical research within these fields. Through engagements with the teachers throughout the course, as well as work done on the group presentations, the course will also provide the students a chance to accumulate more in-depth knowledge on their chosen approach and topic as well as to gain valuable skills in preparing and commenting on academic presentations.



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Contact information

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