Literature and Psychoanalysis: The Cultural Legacy of Sigmund Freud

This course will provide you with a critical introduction to some of the major works of Sigmund Freud. Those new to Freud might be surprised by the role of literature in his texts. Why, for instance, are Hamlet and Oedipus so important in articulating theories of the psyche? Why might a medical practitioner analyze novels in addition to analyzing patients? Our goals for this course are twofold: First, we will work to understand Freud’s texts on their own terms as we familiarize ourselves with psychoanalytic theories. Second, we will situate these works within a broader cultural context, reading them alongside literary texts that Freud explicitly addresses and alongside literary, filmic, and theoretical works that draw on psychoanalytic concepts. Our discussions of the cultural imprint of Freudian thought will encompass a variety of themes, from gender and sexuality to Jewishness to the clinical techniques central to psychoanalytic practice. We will grapple with the promises and limitations of Freud’s own literary “archive” and the cultural products that archive Freudian thought.