House of Dust Performances
Critical Studies installation, "House of Dust"
The School of Critical Studies brings together internationally recognized writers, poets, scholars and thinkers working in both new and traditional forms across a wide variety of disciplines, extending from narrative fiction, performance and multimedia to cultural criticism and political theory.

Offering two master’s degree programs and the general education curriculum for all CalArts BFA students, the School of Critical Studies establishes a vital discursive center for the entire CalArts community. Critical Studies is the site for the generation of new ideas through interaction and discussion with a diverse cross-section of practitioners and creative métiers—a place to acquire key intellectual skills and to interrogate what one might define as a “thinking practice.”

Students in the MFA Creative Writing and the MA Aesthetics and Politics Programs develop and refine advanced creative writing and sophisticated critical scholarship in a unique multidisciplinary arts environment dedicated to experimentation and innovation. Unlike many liberal arts colleges or traditional art schools, CalArts links creative and critical practice in profound and generative ways.

The new MA Aesthetics and Politics Program develops and enhances the original program established in 2007, adding an additional low-residency year. This new program is more flexible and substantial enabling students to focus with more time and depth on their studies, to take advantage of the creative environment of CalArts, to have access to a larger and more diverse cross section of theorists and artists, and to opt to study while working in their second year.


BFA General Education

The School of Critical Studies is also responsible for the undergraduate core studies education of CalArts, which form the liberal arts backbone of a bachelor’s degree. Faculty from Critical Studies teach a range of exciting courses in the humanities, social science, cultural studies, sciences and mathematics that engage and inform each student’s own artmaking. To learn more, visit the BFA General Education page.




Video Introduction to Critical Studies


Calendar of Events


School Gallery



Alumni Story

Amarnath Ravva
Amarnath Ravva Integrated Media MFA 04 Ravva’s first book, American Canyon, was published by Kaya Press in 2014. He teaches writing and American Literature at Glendale Community College.

Since 2005, I’ve been part of a shared group space called Betalevel. It’s not a collective—it’s more of a venue for social experimentation and hands on culture that we use for readings and other events. Most of our current seven members are grads from the CalArts Writing Program. Many people make lasting friendships in the Program, which is really important, because once you leave, writers need to replace that supportive community. In the decade or so that it takes for something to happen—it took 10 years to get my book published—only writers are going to be there for each other. The world has its own preoccupations and we can’t live in a vacuum. We need responses to our work.