About the Program

Humanities Building at University of California Santa Cruz – Photo by Professor James Clifford

The History of Consciousness Department offers a Ph.D. program that operates at the intersection of established and emergent disciplines and fields, acquainting students with leading intellectual trends in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.  Intellectual projects are problem based and draw upon diverse theoretical approaches.  The major categories listed below have characterized work in the department over its more than 40 year history; faculty and student research projects typically fall within more than one of these categories.  Fields and disciplines listed within these categories represent areas of specific current interest in the department, though we support student projects that move beyond the listed areas.

Race and Ethnicity; Gender & Sexuality

African and African American Studies, ethnic studies, Jewish studies, queer theory, feminism, disability studies, histories and theories of race and racialization, animality studies

Philosophy and Theory post-colonial studies, Marxism, psychoanalysis, political history and theory, science and technology studies, humanisms and posthumanisms, human rights, theology

Political Economy & Social Movements

globalization, world systems, financialization, history of movements of the left and right, environmentalism

Media, Aesthetics, Poetics

visual culture, music, literature, digital arts, popular culture, cultural studies


The History of Consciousness is committed to racial, gender and sexual diversity among its students and faculty, and also to intellectual diversity, valuing multiple perspectives among faculty and students.

Graduates of the History of Consciousness Department find employment in a range of disciplines, including literature, women's studies, ethnic studies, American studies, sociology, anthropology, communication, and philosophy.  History of Consciousness graduates have also found positions outside academic institutions as researchers, writers, filmmakers, curators, organizers and administrators.