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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses


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


Department of Political and Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki


Related Degree Programmes:

Master’s Programme in Global Politics and Communication

Master’s Programme in European and Nordic Studies







900-1490 EUR Learn more




Emilia Palonen

Taavi Sundell

Target students

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

University of Helsinki course code GPC-322


This course introduces post-foundational political thought as a framework through which to approach the most pressing questions of our era. These include questions related to democracy, economy, populism, gender, climate change, identity politics, and the notion of “post-truth”. With emphasis on rhetoric and performativity, the course investigates how meaning-making takes place through contingent concepts, discourses and structures we inhabit.

Through in-class discussions, group work, and guest lectures, the course will enable the participants to learn and begin to apply insights from this strand of continental political philosophy to the study of contemporary political issues. Teaching will be composed of lectures, seminars, and workshops.

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 methods. As central to the post-foundational framework, the course will introduce the works of authors such as Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau.

Learning objectives

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

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 applicability to their own topics of interest.

Course format and teaching methods

The course is built around lectures and workshops by leading scholars in the field of post-foundational discourse analysis. The students will also conduct individual and group assignments as part of the course.

Means and criteria of assessment

Class participation 20%, assignments 40%, final project 40%.


Teachers and Lecturers

Teachers And Lecturers

Emilia Palonen & Taavi Sundell

Confirmed Visiting Lecturers (TBU):

Mark Devenney, University of Brighton

Charlotte Fridolfsson, Linköping University

Jenny Gunnarsson Payne, Södertörn University

Tomas Marttila, Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München

Course Schedule

Location: City Centre Campus

Monday 6.8.2018 Registration begins
Tuesday 7.8.2018 Registration continues, HSS Opening Ceremony
Wednesday 8.8.2018 Courses begin


Preliminary course schedule:

8–10 August: Introductory lectures on Rhetoric-Performative Post-Foundational Analysis

13–17 August: Guest lectures, seminars, workshops

20–23 August: Concluding lectures, individual and group work on assignments