Several people have asked me to provide a reading list of primary sources that will give them a good grounding in contemporary critical theory, which forms the ideological foundation for large segments of the modern social justice movement. Below, I recommend several key works, at various levels of accessibility. Click on each title to read my reviews, which will provide you with an overview of the book along with selected quotes.
Beginner: accessible works appropriate for those with little familiarity with critical theory.
- Sensoy and DiAngelo’s Is Everyone Really Equal? Overview of contemporary critical theory and social justice. Includes separate chapters on racism, sexism, ableism, and classism.
- Levinson’s Beyond Critique. Historical overview of various critical social theorists, from Marx and Gramsci, to postmodernism, feminism, and critical race theory.
- Delgado’s and Stefancic’s Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. An overview of critical race theory.
- DiAngelo’s White Fragility. One of the most popular books on CRT by one of its most famous proponents.
Intermediate: accessible works applying critical theory to various social issues for those with a working understanding of critical theory.
- Kendi’s How to Be An Antiracist. Best-selling work applying CRT to antiracist activism.
- Wilchins’ Queer Theory, Gender Theory. A good introduction to Queer Theory, with explanations of how it connects to postmodernism and CRT.
- Barndt’s Becoming an Anti-Racist Church. Application of CRT to antiracist activism within the church.
- hooks’ Feminism is for Everybody. Application of CT to feminist activism.
Advanced: somewhat dense works for those comfortable with reading scholarly texts.
- Anderson’s Race, Class, and Gender. A 500-page anthology of writings drawn from academic literature on feminism, CRT, queer theory, etc.
- Adams’ Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. Another 500-page anthology of academic writings touching on various subjects within a critical theory framework.
- Crenshaw’s Critical Race Theory: the Key Writings that Formed the Movement. A 500-page anthology containing seminal works from early CRT.
- Jagose’s Queer Theory: An Introduction. A historical overview of the homophile movement and the emergence of queer theory.
- Bonilla-Silva’s Racism Without Racists. A popular work of sociology employing CRT. Coins the term “colorblind racism.”
- Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. One of the foundational works of critical pedagogy.
See all content on critical theory here.