Spring 2011

Literature and Psychoanalysis

Listed in: English, as ENGL-08


Alicia J. Mireles Christoff (Section 01)


Why does it seem natural to read ourselves and other people in the same way that we read books?  This course will introduce students to both psychoanalytic theory and literary interpretation, asking about their similarities as well as their dissonance.  Why do novels of development and case-studies resemble one another?  What can the Freudian understanding of the structure of the psyche teach us about the structure of narrative?  And what do “illnesses” like hysteria and paranoia have in common with everyday acts of meaning-making and with the way we read literature?  Each week pairing a psychoanalytic paper with a short story or novel, we will ask how psychoanalysis alters not only what we see in literary works, but also the way we understand our own acts of interpretation.  Topics include the unconscious, dreams, childhood, the uncanny, desire, subjects and objects, and mourning.

Reading will include essays by Freud, Lacan, Winnicott, Melanie Klein, and others; and fiction by Jensen, Melville, Poe, Brontë, James, Flaubert, and Ishiguro.

Preference given to sophomores considering an English major.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Five College Fellow Christoff.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to sophomores considering an English major.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011