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Introduction to Psychoanalysis: History, Theory, Practice

ENGL 102.401
crosslisted as: COML 245
instructor(s):
MW 5-6:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector III: Arts & Letters of the College's General Education Curriculum

Psychoanalysis offers powerful and influential ways of understanding how all of us think, feel, and behave—both as individuals and in relation to other people and larger communities.  The theory and practice of psychoanalysis, from Sigmund Freud to the present day, is based fundamentally on the importance of unconscious processes and the complex ways in which those processes affect our lived experience: in childhood development and family relationships; in our wishes, dreams, and fantasies; in our experiences of work, play, love, sex, trauma, and loss; and in our creative, spiritual, and political strivings.  Because the course aims to link the academic and the clinical, it will be team-taught by a faculty member and a psychoanalyst.  The course will introduce students to the broad and still-expanding spectrum of psychoanalytic ideas and techniques through reading and discussion of major works by some of its most influential figures, such as Freud, Sándor Ferenczi, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Heinz Kohut, Erik Erikson, D. W. Winnicott, Jacques Lacan, Wilfred Bion, John Bowlby, Stephen Mitchell, Jessica Benjamin, Nancy Chodorow, and Christopher Bollas.  We will also read a number of literary, historical, philosophical, and anthropological works that have special relevance to the psychoanalytic exploration of the human condition.  Indeed, the course will demonstrate how effective psychoanalytic ideas are in bridging a wide variety of disciplines in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences—including recent developments in neuropsychoanalysis.  No prior knowledge of psychoanalysis is required, and interested students from all disciplines are warmly welcomed.  The reading assignment for the second class meeting will be Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Are You My Mother?, if you want to get a head-start over Winter Break.