Critical Theory, Literature & Media

  • City scene with illuminated Ferris wheel

About This Program

Fall 2016

  • Application deadline: February 10
  • IPD study abroad fellowship application deadline: February 10
  • Program dates: Saturday, August 27 (date of arrival in Paris) - Saturday, December 10 (date of departure from Paris)

Fall 2016: $22,383 or $23,383, depending upon accommodations selected

Total fees charged by Northwestern: $15,508 or $16,808, includes:

  • $11,158 tuition fee covers courses and excursions
  • Accommodations options:
    1. Homestay with daily breakfast and dinner: $5,500
    2. Homestay with daily breakfast only: $4,500
    3. St. John's University dormitory with weekday breakfasts: $5,500
  • $150 for HTH Worldwide Health Insurance
  • $0 Study Abroad Administrative Fee

Estimated additional costs: $5,575 or $6,575, includes:

  • $1,500 round trip airfare to Paris, France (students book their own airfare; rates vary)
  • $1,000-$2,000 for additional meals
  • $400 for books and supplies
  • $175 for visa fees
  • $2,500 for discretionary expenses, including local transportation, personal expenses, and incidentals

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD Study Abroad Fellowships and may be eligible for external funding opportunities.

Students participating in this program are subject to the Withdrawal and Refund Policies for Northwestern-Sponsored Programs.


The Critical Theory, Literature, and Media program questions common sense conceptualizations of the world in which we live, as both fostered and examined by political discourse, literature, the media, and cultural production. Through exposure to foundational critical works, literary reflections, and field trips to historical and cultural sites, students will learn about the development of Critical Theory within the historical context of the ideological enthusiasms and conflicts of twentieth century Europe, while also being challenged to apply these theories to the contemporary world. The program also includes intensive language classes in French, as well as visits to historic and cultural sites in Paris and elsewhere in France.

Host Institution

Established in 1872, Sciences Po is one of Europe’s most distinguished and well-known schools of public affairs. The majority of France’s political leaders are alumni, including former presidents Jacques Chirac and François Mitterrand. The Paris campus, located near the Seine and within walking distance of Notre Dame de Paris and the Louvre, is the most famous of the seven Sciences Po undergraduate campuses located all over France. While the University primarily conducts classes in French, the education has a strong international dimension. Students are expected to study at least two foreign languages in addition to French, and many courses are offered in English. Forty percent of Sciences Po’s student population is international, with 60 different nationalities represented.

Housing & Meals

Accommodations and a meal plan are provided as part of the program package.

Students will have two options:

  • Living with a French family in a homestay. Students select between a "half-board" meal plan option, with breakfast and dinner included daily, and a "bed & breakfast" option, with breakfast only provided daily.
  • Staying in the dormitory at St. John’s University's Paris Campus with breakfast provided daily.


This is a Northwestern program with a set curriculum, so students must enroll in the courses listed below. All courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcript and are factored into their Northwestern GPA.

POLI SCI 364-SA: France and the European Union

This course provides students with an introduction to French politics in the framework of European integration. It addresses France's participation in European integration, while also exploring French identity politics, state institutions, and the development of French social policy. This is a required course for all students participating in IPD programs in Paris.

POLI SCI 308-SA: Critical Theory and the Study of Politics

This course examines the relevance of critical theory to political life, as well as the political and moral implications of critical theory. Students will become acquainted with critical theory through the writings of Jacques Derrida, one of the most influential twentieth century thinkers.

COMP LIT 390-SA: Topics in Comparative Literature - Fundamental Texts in Critical Theory

This course will introduce students to some of the most influential texts of critical theory, notably those of Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard, and/or Derrida. The course is articulated around significant themes, which may change from year to year. The focus of the course will be to use careful literary analysis of foundational texts to deconstruct and the theme and contemplate political and ethical implications.

COMP LIT 383-SA: Special Topics in Theory - Seminar on Critical Theory

Students exchange ideas with scholars and doctoral candidates working in Critical Theory, read and analyze texts together in a seminar setting, debate the meaning and relevance of Critical Theory, visit relevant sites, and develop paper on a topic of interest related to the program content.

FRENCH 199-SA or 299-SA: French Language

  • Taught by French instructors from Sciences Po

While there is no language prerequisite to participate in this program, students are required to take intensive French language training while in Paris. Three to four levels of language instruction are offered, depending on students' skill levels. 


Northern France

On one of the first weekends of the program, students will travel to see the beaches of Normandy and the American and German cemeteries from World War II. The trip provides a great opportunity for students on the program to get an introduction to France and to each other.

Strasbourg & Freiburg

During a four-day excursion to Strasbourg and Freiburg, students will have the opportunity to visit important sites in the development of Critical Theory. Possible visits include: Martin Heidegger’s “Hütte” in Todtnauberg, Strasbourg University, where Emmanuel Levinas studied, and the Nazi concentration camp at Struthof.