CARGC Papers



Download Paper (1.3 MB)

Date of this Version



Originally delivered as the 2021 CARGC Distinguished Lecture in Global Communication, CARGC Paper 17 historicizes and situates theory in a global context, approaching it as an intellectual tradition that has produced powerful critiques of normativity and decentered text, image, and genealogy. In this paper, Professor Tarek El-Ariss revisits his intellectual trajectory and scrutinizes his engagement with critical theory. Reflecting on his personal journey as a scholar, writer, and critic in this article, he delineates five stages of critical practice in his encounters with theory, comparative literature, and Middle Eastern studies. These five stages are: a critique of representation, occupy the canon, impasse and breakdown, cross-disciplinary sublime, and new writing genres. By offering a wide-ranging and insightful overview of the five-stage theoretical practice in this paper, Professor El-Ariss addresses some of the questions and ethical imperatives that we need to raise as an intellectual community today in order to develop new critical practices, writing genres, and forms of communication that operate at both local and global levels.


Theory, critical practice, global communication, comparative literature, Middle Eastern studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Arts and Humanities | Communication | Comparative Literature

Theory in a Global Context: A Critical Practice in Five Steps