This piece asks the question: “what is theory?” It begins by attempting to define “theory” as a term or as a concept, a task that involves addressing ideas of abstraction, generalization, science, discourse, language and rhetoric, as well as the persistent oppositions between theory and practice, theory and history, theory as engaged and instrumental or theory as reflective and critical.

  • “Theory is stronger when it learns from […] its opposites, from its discourses.”

  • “For me, theory is deeply embedded in historical and interpretive practice.”

  • “Philosophy and theory […] can be used interchangeably, or if they aren’t being used interchangeably, they are at least close ways of describing […] practice of thinking reflectively about what we do or where we are in the world.”

  • “…I don’t think that philosophy by itself can ever produce real effects, I don’t think that it can ever do more than inspire people theoretically.”

  • “We have disciplines of knowledge that are committed to problem solving, we have the sciences, we have the applied sciences, such as engineering, things like that.”

  • “…what kinds of power structures, what epistemic frameworks enable us to make rhetorical formulations?”

  • “…theory is in some tension with history.”



Arianna Corradi

Issue Editor

Joseph Bedford

Senior Editor

Joseph Bedford


Trudy Watt


Joseph Bedford,


Joseph Godlewski, Jake Matatyaou, John May, Ginger Nolan, Bryan E. Norwood, Ivonne Santoyo-Orozco, Meredith TenHoor, and Marrikka Trotter.