Exploring and Applying Critical Theory: An Introduction for Librarians
Instructor: Jessica Critten
Dates: March 6-31, 2017
Credits: 1.5 CEUs
Critical approaches to librarianship help us think about the ways that our work is fundamentally political and theoretical. These approaches firmly assert that social justice should be central goal and professional responsibility of librarianship and are used, therefore, to inform more inclusive policy, curriculum, and communication. As critical librarianship gains in popularity and visibility there is a growing demand for spaces where beginners can explore and unpack what it means to be ‘critical.’
This course will aim to provide such a space, focusing specifically on theory as a core dimension of critical librarianship. Theory is often perceived as a barrier to entry for participation in critical conversations and practices, so this course will aim to explore what theory is and what it does, some fundamentals of theory, and how to identify theories and epistemologies that resonate with each practitioner. We will discuss (among others) the broad concepts of epistemology, ontology, empiricism/positivism, and social constructionism. In the course of exploring the basics of theory in this way, we will also critique how theory is often conceived of and used in scholarly discourse. We will end the course by exploring the way that theory informs practice towards social good (praxis).
By the end of the course, students will have:
- Examined how theory functions to shape critical projects, specifically critical library work.
- Identified and discussed foundational theoretical concepts.
- Engaged in self-reflection to build and/or refine their own theoretical point of view.
- Explored how theory is integrated into their everyday practice.
Jessica Critten is an Associate Professor and Instructional Services Librarian at the University of West Georgia. Jessica received her MLIS from Florida State University (FSU). She also has an MA in Interdisciplinary Humanities with a focus on cultural studies and critical theory from FSU. Jessica’s research examines the ideological dimensions of research and information literacy and the way that scholarly discourse is socially constructed. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her partner Tristan and dog Digby.
This is an online class that is taught asynchronously, meaning that participants do the work on their own time as their schedules allow. The class does not meet together at any particular times, although the instructor may set up optional sychronous chat sessions. Instruction includes readings and assignments in one-week segments. Class participation is in an online forum environment.
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