Because of its interdisciplinary epistemology, critical theory permeates the humanities and social sciences in such diverse fields as literature, philosophy, art, history, sociology, political science, and anthropology. Because of its wide purview, critical theory scholarship cannot easily fit within any one discipline, a quality exemplified in the works of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, and Judith Butler. Thereby, it is central to the Critical Theory Archive to collect archival material that crosses many disciplines, fields, methodologies, geographies, and languages.
A singular thread moving through many examples of scholarship working under the umbrella of "critical theory" is a resolute interest in human emancipation and radical social change. From its origins in the 18th century to the present day, critical theory is a theoretical approach to various problems governing human experience and organization using analytical methods such as aesthetics, literary criticism, cultural theory, sexuality studies, feminist and gender studies, postcolonial studies, eco-criticism, materialist history, and politics.