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Freud and After

ENGL 571.640
instructor(s):
W 6:30-9:10

We have celebrated the first hundred years since Freud discovered the unconscious, and can look back to a century that might well be called Freudian (it was indeed in 1897 that Freud started his self-analysis and discovered that "Nothing human was alien to him"). But one may also wonder about the survival of Freudian thought today. With the rapid development of genetics, biology and chemistry, one often hears that psychoanalysis is obsolete and has lost any scientific credibility. This seminar aims at a systematic rereading of Freud's works so as to reexamine his major legacy, the practice of the "talking cure" in the wake of questions posed by Lacan and his French school under the battle cry of a "return to Freud". I would like to reopen the issue of the various channels through which Freudian ideas have permeated our culture. Freud insisted on the international aspect of the movement he had founded. His successors have variously stressed the importance of languages and cultures in which they have worked. How far are theories that claim to be universally valid culture and language bound? We shall thus aim at an introduction to Freud's major works working first from clinical essays -- "Dora: An analysis of a case of Hysteria", "The Wolf Man", "The Rat Man", "The Psychotic Doctor Schreber", "The Sexual Enlightenment of Children"-- to meta-psychological texts such as Leonardo da Vinci", "Jokes", "Civilization and It's Discontents", "Moses and Monotheism". After which we will approach Lacan with two main texts, "The Four Fundemental Concepts of Psychoanalysis" and "Ecrits: A Selection" (all of these books are published by Norton). The clinical dimension of psychoanalysis will be emphasized by a few in class presentations given by professional practitioners.