The Critical Theory Institute (CTI) is an interdisciplinary, collaborative research group at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), comprising 15 to 20 active members from various UCI departments in the humanities and social sciences. CTI began in the early 1980s as an informal reading group and since 1987 has operated as an organized research unit. CTI is closely allied with UCI's curricular program in critical theory.
Every three to four years, CTI organizes research projects focusing on a particular theme. Around this theme, CTI organizes several presentations and discussions of work of both CTI members and invited guests in its Irvine Lectures in Critical Theory series. Past themes have included "Politics, Theory, and Contemporary Culture" and "Forces of Globalization." Books are compiled after the research projects are complete and have included many of the Irvine Lectures in Critical Theory.
Since 1981 CTI has sponsored the Wellek Library Lectures, an annual lecture series named in honor of Professor Emeritus René Wellek (Yale University), whose papers and library of works in critical theory are housed at UCI's Special Collections and Archives. Each year CTI invites internationally distinguished critical theorist to deliver a series of three lectures at UCI in which he or she develops a critical position and relates it to the contemporary theoretical scene.