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Parallel Histories: Psychoanalysis and Film

ENGL 295.401
crosslisted as: CIMS 295, COML 295
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

This class will introduce students to the links between psychoanalysis and film. Psychoanalysis and film were developed at the same time, and the cross-references are numerous. We will take Sigmund Freud’s works on the arts as a point of departure, studying Freud’s dynamic reading of works of art as a type of filmic interpretation. Films will offer crucial examples with which one can test, verify or question the points of insertion of psychoanalytical concepts such as hysteria, transference, paranoia and the Oedipus complex. Using films across different genres, from comedy to horror via documentaries, we will consider the function of deferred action, fantasy, sublimation, the uncanny, trauma, and perversion. In spite of recent controversies, psychoanalytic approaches to film provide exciting and dynamic methods of interpretation. We will use the PEPWEB to read Freud’s texts. The films will be available in the library. We will also use two novels, Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Martel’s Life of Pi.