PhD course: Deconstruction as Method for Political Analysis

Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences


Course dates: 27 –28 April 2020

Organizer and lecturer: Dr Lasse Thomassen, University of Copenhagen and Queen Mary, University of London

Place/Venue: CSS, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen K

Room number: to be confirmed

Meals: Lunch and coffee/tea will be provided both days

ECTS: 1 point

Registration: The course accepts a maximum of 15 participants on a first come, first serve basis. The final deadline for signing up for the course is 29 February 2020. To register please send an e-mail to



The course consists of seven sessions across two days. It is aimed at research students and young researchers, who wish to learn more about deconstruction and how to use it for research in the humanities and social sciences. The aim of the workshop is to examine deconstruction as a method for political analysis broadly conceived. We read examples of deconstructive analyses by Jacques Derrida and others, and we discuss the methodological implications of deconstruction as well as the philosophical assumptions behind it. Deconstruction is often used in literature and cultural studies, but is little used as a method in political theory, let alone political science. Having said that, and although deconstruction is usually associated with Derrida’s work, it has been put to use by political theorists such as Judith Butler, Lisa Disch, Bonnie Honig, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. The workshop examines the usefulness of deconstruction for the study of politics not only by reading about deconstruction, but also by seeing how it can be put to use in the analysis of texts. Each session is organised around set texts and will focus on methodological issues as well as substantial political concepts.

At the end of the course, the participants will have knowledge of the philosophical assumptions behind deconstruction, the implications of deconstruction for questions surrounding the use of methods in the social sciences and humanities, the politics of deconstruction, and the use deconstruction for concrete political analysis.



The course runs Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 April 2020. The course consists of seven sessions. The sessions are organised around topics and specific readings, with each session focusing on at least one example of a deconstructive reading while also examining wider methodological issues arising from deconstruction. Each session will consist of a mixture of lecture, seminar discussion and discussion of research projects.



Some knowledge of post-structuralist theory will be assumed, and the sessions will run on the assumption that participants have done the set readings in advance of the course (the programme below also contains suggested additional readings relevant for each topic). An interest in theoretical questions and discussions will also be assumed. You are expected to participate actively in course activities, abstain from non-course-related activities during the course, and be present for the full duration of the course.


No later than Sunday 19 April 2020, participants must send a short paper of 1500 words with a statement about their research project (with particular focus on the methodological aspect of it), and how they think the course may contribute to their project. The paper should be sent to Lasse Thomassen at The papers will be circulated to all participants prior to the course, and it is assumed that participants have read all the papers in advance. There will be opportunities to discuss individual projects during the sessions.


Further details: