Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Intro to Psychoanalysis of Literature and Film

ENGL 094.402
crosslisted as: COML 094.402
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30
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 and fascinating. We will take Sigmund Freud’s works on the arts as a point of departure, studying Freud’s dynamic readings of the Unconscious as a kind of filmic interpretation. Chosen films will offer 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. Despite 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 read two novels, T. Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Y. Martel’s Life of Pi.

Requirements: Ten film journals of 2-3 pages each and a final paper of ten pages.