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HUMA7001 Introduction to Thesis Writing (Critical Humanities)


The course will consider all aspects of writing a thesis in the broadly defined field of the critical humanities. It will focus on the particular challenges and opportunities faced by writing a thesis that engages with core texts of contemporary critical theory. It will explore ways in which these texts and approaches can be brought to bear upon the unique considerations of particular humanities disciplines.

It will look at the overall content and organisation of the thesis and the concerns particular to each stage of the work. Discussions will cover the following topics related to the thesis itself: identification of a research gap; the subsequent formulation of a research problem or research questions; acknowledging the work of others and commenting on the literature in the field; discussing the writer’s own research findings; and presenting conclusions. The writing of abstracts and research proposals will also be covered, along with citation practices and bibliographic formats.

COURSE READINGS HERE (password protected)


The Course will consist of a 3-hr class each week for 8 weeks.

Thursdays at 10:00am-1:00pm:

Jan 22 (Room 1027)

1. Jan 29 (Room 758)

2. Feb 5 (Room 1027)

(2-week break)

3. Feb 26 (Room 1027)

4. Mar 5 (Room 1027)

(1-week break)

5. Mar 19 (Room 1027)

6. Mar 26 (Room 1027)

7. Apr 2 (Room 1027)

8. Apr 9 (Room 1027) 



In-Class Presentation: 40%

Each student will present and lead discussion on 1 of the theoretical texts.

Written exercise: 60%

A paper of 2,000 words that critically appraises 2 works related to your field and demonstrates how the works contribute to your own project. In the latter part of the course, students will workshop eachother’s writing drafts. Final versions will be submitted at the end of the course for evaluation.



Week 1


Foucault, Michel. “What is Enlightenment?” (and, optional, “What is Critique?”)


What is a thesis? Identifying a topic. Limiting scope of research.

Week 2


Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Genealogy of Morality, Essay 2, Sections 12 & 13.

Deleuze, Gilles. “Active and Reactive”.


How to make an argument; persuasive writing; paragraph structure.

Week 3


Foucault, Michel. “The Order of Discourse”.


How to structure a thesis. Citations. Plagiarism.


Week 4


Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.

Habermas, Jurgen. “Modernity — An Incomplete Project”.


Effective writing habits.


Week 5



Barthes, Roland. Criticism and Truth, Part II.

Deleuze, Gilles. “Literature and Life”.


The thesis examination process at HKU.


Week 6



Bhabha, Homi K. “The Commitment to Theory”.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Can the Subaltern Speak?”


Students workshop writing samples.


Week 7


Butler, Judith. “Critique, Dissent, Disciplinarity”.

Brown, Wendy. “Untimeliness and Punctuality: Critical Theory in Dark Times”.


Students workshop writing samples.


Week 8


Latour, Bruno: “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern”.


Students workshop writing samples.