Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Race and Psychoanalysis

ENGL 272.401
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30 pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

This seminar will investigate the relationship between race and psychoanalysis.  Psychoanalysis is often characterized as a theory concerning sexuality and sexual difference.  However, we will explore how psychoanalysis might be repurposed to analyze problems of race and racial difference.  We will begin the term by reading classic theorists of psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, and Jacques Lacan) in order to establish a critical foundation for fundamental concepts in the field (identification, desire, repression, projection, attachment, neuroses, psychoses).  The remaining time will be devoted to studying a number of commentators and analysts in order to situate psychoanalysis within a troubled global history of liberalism, colonialism, and race relations.  In conjunction, we will also examine novels, films, and clinical case histories and commentaries focused on the psychic lives of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino/as.