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Rhetoric-performative, Post-foundational Analysis in Social Sciences and Humanities

Tuition fee


EARLY BIRD prices valid until 28.2.2018
NORMAL prices after 28.2.2018

Expenses for Special Courses
Air Quality in China 190,00 EUR to be paid together with the course fee
Managing Sustainable Forest Landscapes 190,00 EUR, paid in cash during the course

More information 



This intensive course provides a consistent frame – post-foundational political thought – for students to approach some of the most pressing questions of our era. These include democracy, populism, political violence, economic violence, gender, climate change and identity politics.

With emphasis on rhetoric and performativity, post-foundational political thought can be useful for the social sciences and humanities to tackle issues in the ‘post-truth’, ‘post-factual’ era, marked by fluidity of identifications and populism.

Rather than taking political concepts at face value, the course suggests that the focus should shift to the ways in which the meaning-making takes place through contingent concepts, discourses and structures we inhabit. The rhetoric-performative approach allows us to engage with various phenomena.

Through in-class discussions, group work, excursions and guest lectures, the course will enable the participants to start using insights from this strand of continental political philosophy in the study of contemporary political issues. Teaching will be composed of lectures and seminars as well as workshops with researchers at the University of Helsinki.

The students will learn about different forms of post-foundational thinking, and get to explore the ways in which it can be combined with various research techniques. The course will introduce the works of authors such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Claude Lefort, Jean-Luc Nancy, Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, as central to this approach.

Learning objectives

The course introduces post-foundational thinking and the related perspectives of conceptual analysis, post-structural discourse theory, interpretive political analysis and discourse theory. The broader aim is to learn how to use a theoretical approach in research in social and political sciences.

As the outcome of the course, students will learn how to use post-foundational theory in actual research contexts, whether engaging with theoretical or empirical research. The students will be able to establish the differences between these approaches within the field of post-foundational theory, and assess their usefulness in particular research projects. With the help of teachers on the course and the final project they will also accumulate more in-depth knowledge on their chosen approach and topic of research.

Course format and teaching methods

The course combines lectures by leading experts and active learning methods, particularly group work and workshops. The course hosts learning cafes with researchers on particular perspectives and methods. The course involves getting familiar with relatively demanding texts. The students will submit short assignments before and during the course to engage in and facilitate learning. By the end of the course the students will submit a final project demonstrating the use of this methodology.

Supervision is provided during the workshops, the learning cafes and through clinics by key teachers during the final week. During the excursion and on the evening out on the second week, the students will also engage with their peers and some of the teachers. Peer learning is encouraged through active learning and social engagement.

Target students

MA/PhD level students. BA degree or previous knowledge of research methods and research practice required.


Emilia Palonen (responsible teacher),
You may contact the course coordinator with questions concerning the course content.

With any other questions concerning Helsinki Summer Schoool or the application process, please contact

Apply now! Summer 2018
May 31, 2018 23:59
Europe/Helsinki time

If you need a visa, please apply 31st of May the latest.

Primary deadline
Jul 31, 2018 23:59
Europe/Helsinki time
Studies commence
Aug 7, 2018

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States