“No more old white men!” The Pulse nightclub shooting. Feminist glaciology. What do these incidents have in common? We might have a vague sense that they are somehow connected to “political correctness.” Perhaps they capture a kind of 21st-century progressive zeitgeist but are otherwise unconnected. Alternatively, we could dismiss these statements as utterly nonsensical. What does gender have to do with glaciers? How is capitalism to blame for a terrorist attack at a gay nightclub? Both reactions are understandable but incorrect. Both views flow from a knowledge area known as critical theory, which seeks to understand human relationships through the fundamental lens of power.
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Dr. Neil Shenvi has a Ph.D. in Theoretical Chemistry from UC Berkeley and an A.B. in Chemistry from Princeton. Dr. Shenvi can be found on Twitter at @NeilShenvi. Dr. Pat Sawyer has a Ph.D. in Education and Cultural Studies from UNC Greensboro, an M.A. in Communication Studies from UNC Greensboro, and a B.A. in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill. He currently teaches at UNC Greensboro, and can be found on Twitter at @RealPatSawyer