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C LIT 396 A: Special Studies In Comparative Literature

Freud and the Literary Imagination

Meeting Time: 
MWF 11:30am - 12:20pm
SAV 260
Richard T Gray

Additional Details:

This course examines a set of central themes that emerge from Sigmund Freud’s theories of the dream, the nature of literary creativity, the operation of the human psyche, and the substance of human culture. We will take as our starting point the hypothesis that Freud conceives the psyche as a kind of writing machine, an “author” that produces fictional narratives that share many properties with the prose fiction generated by creative writers. For this reason, our focus throughout the quarter will be restricted to prose narratives. The course will concentrate on literature produced in the wake of Freud’s theories, that is, on texts that consciously or unconsciously develop Freudian ideas. The class is structured around a set of themes that will be developed on the basis of paired readings: in each case we will examine a text or excerpt from Freud’s psychological works in conjunction with the reading of a literary text that exemplifies the issue or issues highlighted in Freud’s theory. Literary works treated include writings by Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Arthur Schnitzler, Robert Musil, Ingeborg Bachmann, and others. Course requirements: regular attendance at lecture and discussion sessions; weekly short writing assignments; 2 short interpretive papers.

Book list:
Sigtmund Freud, The Freud Reader
Arthur Schnitzler, Lieutenant Gustl
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis and selected short stories
Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
Robert Musil, Young Torless
Ingeborg Bachmann, The Book of Franza

Students who would like more information about the course structure are encouraged to consult the course Web site:

Catalog Description: 
Offered by visitors or resident faculty. Content varies.
Department Requirements Met: 
Literature Elective
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 9:19am