Critical Theory

Critical Theory DSA Julia Bienstock

Julia Bienstock

(she/her)

k18jb02@kzoo.edu
Hometown: Farmington Hills, Michigan
Majors: Philosophy and Spanish
Concentration: Critical Theory
Best Adjective to Describe You: Contemplative


In 20 words or less, what is the best thing about being part of this department?
Gaining the intellectual tools to change the world (or the free coffee).

What is your advice to first years and sophomores about getting connected to this department?
Take advantage of your TAs and professors! They will be lonely if you don’t and they want to help you always. Critical Theory is interdisciplinary so you can really tailor this concentration to your specific interests.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
Ask the ‘dumb’ question out loud! One of my professors says that ‘the only stupid question is the one that is unasked’ and I 100% agree. Other students are definitely just as confused as you are and if you have questions it means that you already understand something. Shoot from the hip!

What has been your favorite class at K? Why?
19th Century Philosophy! Not just for the free coffee, biscotti, and laughs, but those are definitely great. It was the first philosophy class I took because the idea of a movie lab excited me, and I was delightfully surprised. I loved getting introduced to a wide variety of philosophers, which also helped me understand some of my life experiences. They also deepened my understanding of the theories through films. Philosophy can be kind of therapeutic like that sometimes.

How have you taken advantage of the open curriculum or experienced breadth in your education?
Since I couldn’t go on study abroad, I took German. This helped me to be able to read those really long German words in my philosophy books. The open curriculum is why I got into Philosophy/Critical Theory and I am so thankful for that because I really can’t imagine doing anything else. The Critical Theory concentration allowed me to take classes outside of my philosophy major, but still related to my interests.

What experiential education opportunities have you participated in?
I did a virtual internship with the Universidad de Extremadura in Spain as a writer for their journal Viceversa. In the summer, I participated in the Language Pledge in Spanish at Middlebury College in Vermont. I also work for the Writing Center and I am the Assistant Director. Before Covid, I volunteered at CAPS, tutoring local KPS students with their homework. I was a TA for 19th Century Philosophy, and I will be the TA for Postmodern Critical Theory. I also cofounded K’s Philosophy Club.

What is your SIP?
I am primarily interested in Gender Theory and critically examining the gender binary under a philosophical lens. The binary is so pervasive, and I find it fascinating, so I will be thinking about questions like, how and why is the gender binary present in nearly all public and private aspects of life? How should we go about emancipatory gender movements? What is the right language to use when it comes to queerness? I’m still in the early stages and I’m looking forward to doing this philosophical research.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I want to go to grad school for Philosophy/Critical Theory, but only if I don’t have to pay for it. I also really want to go abroad ASAP because I didn’t get to go during junior year. I want to travel to Chile because that’s where I was supposed to go until Covid and the political revolution there. I also really want to go to Germany and study or work there at some point in the future.