Spring 2014 Undergraduate English Courses: Literary Theory

353:350 Psychoanalytic Literary Theory

01  TTH4  CAC  16651 IAN  MU-115

Psychoanalysis is a therapeutic technique invented around the turn of the twentieth century by Sigmund Freud.  He considered it to be a natural science of human nature – a nature governed by subjectivity, desire and fantasy.  Developed in order to alleviate human suffering, psychoanalysis finds the root cause of that suffering to be the very same desires which are the root and branch of both individual and social life, even in its noblest (and seemingly transcendent) manifestations.  In proposing such ideas about human nature, psychoanalysis broke with and de-constructed hierarchical systems of belief which judged people by the standards of religion, goodness, morality, normalcy, or other ideals.  Instead, psychoanalysis sees us as defined by our desires and our capacity to express, deny, project, transform, and realize them.  In this course we will study a variety of psychoanalytic and literary texts, in order to introduce ourselves to concepts and ways of thinking central to psychoanalytic theory and interpretation.  We will read such authors as Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Jacques Lacan, Karen Horney, E. M. Forster, Henry James, Franz Kafka, and Jean Rhys, and explore theories of the unconscious, gender and sexuality, normality and perversion, mourning and melancholy, humor and aggression, reality and representation.

Attendance:  Three absences permitted; five or more may result in failure.

Required work:  two 4-6 page papers, each worth 25%; final exam 40%; participation 10%.