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C LIT 396 A: Special Studies In Comparative Literature

Freud and the Literary Imagination

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
Location: 
THO 125
SLN: 
11849
Instructor: 
Richard T Gray

Syllabus Description:

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 fictions 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: 1) The Psyche as Writing Machine, Dreams as Texts; 2) Freud’s Understanding of Literary Creativity; 3) The Oedipus Complex; 4) Eros and Thanatos, the Union of Love and Death; 5) Repression and Social Disorder; 6) The Uncanny and the Literary Fantastic; 7) Freud and Women: Neurosis and Sexuality. 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. Writing credit (W) is an option, by student choice.

 

Book list:

Sigmund 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: http://courses.washington.edu/freudlit

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 fictions 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:

Sigmund 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: http://courses.washington.edu/freudlit

Catalog Description: 
Offered by visitors or resident faculty. Content varies.
Department Requirements Met: 
Literature Elective
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
September 13, 2016 - 9:12pm
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