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During a recent update of our Literacy Education program, the introductory graduate-level course was renamed Critical Literacy. While the term critical is used extensively in the professional literature, I found as instructor of the course that I needed to research the term in order to present my stu dents with a clear picture of what it means to be critical. This paper presents the results of that research, including implications for literacy education courses. My research began with a reexamination of critical theorists. Represented by the writings of Marcuse (1960; 1964) and Habermas (1970; 1975) among others, the goal of critical theory is to "reestablish the meaning of freedom based on human values, just social relations, and equality by illuminating the past and current social relations, documenting their consequences, and analyzing dialectically the society's contradictions as opportunities for change toward more just relations" (Shannon, 1990b, p. 148).

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