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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2010

E 314J • Literature & Psychology-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34015 MW
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
MEZ 2.124

Course Description

Freudian psychoanalysis has allowed critics to create powerful and compelling interpretations of literary works. Yet considered as a scientist of the mind, Freud has been almost totally discredited. This course explores the paradox that interpreters of literature and the human experience can't live with Freud, and can't live without him. In the first part of the course we will look at how three of Shakespeare's great tragedies influenced the development of Freud's theories, and how those theories elucidate (or fail to elucidate) the plays. Next, we'll turn to politics, looking to see what happens when Freudian concepts are applied to society taken as a whole. The role of Shakespeare's Macbeth in the 1649 execution of the English King Charles I will serve as a test case. The third segment of the class will jump several centuries to Russian-born American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov was a merciless critic of psychoanalysis, and parodied Freudian practice in his infamous novel Lolita. We will read Nabokov with the aim of discussing whether the psyche really can be encompassed by Freud's or any theory of the mind.

Grading Policy

Paper 1 (15%), Paper 2 (30%), Paper 3 (40%), Annotated Bibliography (10%), Reading Quizzes (5%)


• Shakespeare, Hamlet • Shakespeare, King Lear • Shakespeare, Macbeth • Milton, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates • Conrad, The Secret Sharer • Nabokov, Lolita • Relevant secondary criticism of the primary texts • Excerpts from the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Sigmund Freud, and other theorists of literature and psychology


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