In social theory, popular discourse and everyday practice, hope is often an assumed or desired sentiment but albeit one that is rarely seen as being in need of critical elaboration. This course takes hope as a key category of social analysis. It first compares different historical approaches that locate in hope the utopian spirit of times of revolution and certain religious doctrines that link hope to faith in the face of experiential misery. It then delves into contemporary ethnographies that engage with theories of affect as they pertain to hope. How does hope relate to other affective states such as desire and optimism (hope’s presumed affines) and melancholy and despair (its presumed opposites ?) Under what conditions does hope become cruel? Building on a critical tradition in social theory, it also assesses the potential role of hope in progressive politics and thought as a method of critique.