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Analyzing Freud (244-0-1)


Erica Suzanne Weitzman
1880 Campus Drive, Kresge Hall, Rm 3333
Office Hours: Tues, 3:30-5:30 PM and by appointment

Meeting Info

Kresge Centennial Hall 2-415: Mon, Wed 1:00PM - 1:50PM

Overview of class

This class will take a look at the life and work of the groundbreaking Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud from a comparative and interdisciplinary angle. Almost 80 years after his death, Freud's legacy continues to be controversial: some claim that his theories are no longer relevant in the light of new research, whereas others defend his theories and/or expand upon the implications and influence of his ideas, in the realm not only of psychology, medicine, and neuroscience, but also in the fields of sociology, cultural studies, philosophy, literary studies, criminal justice, queer studies, women's studies, communications, and many more. What is certain, however, is that, one way or another, Freud's theories and ideas have marked the world for all time. This class will read fundamental texts from Freud's body of work in dialogue with texts by Freud's near and distant predecessors and followers, both to situate Freud in his historical and cultural context, and to think through the many different kinds of questions that Freud's work addresses.

Learning Objectives


 This course examines the work of Sigmund Freud both in its historical context and in terms of its ongoing impact on the way we understand our selves, our world, and our relations to one another.
 Students will learn how to evaluate the impact of Freud's work on a variety of currently relevant discourses and conversations, including but not limited to: changing attitudes toward and treatments of mental illness and mental distress; interpersonal dynamics within the family unit as well as within society at large; evolving conceptions of sex, gender, sexuality, identity, and desire; the effects of trauma on both individuals and generational social groups; and the various competing understandings of human mental processes, the mind-body connection, and of "human nature" per se.
 Students will learn to put Freud's theories in dialogue with the myriad discourses, conversations, and reconsiderations of human behavior and human interaction to which it has given rise. Students will also engage critically with the many challenges to, as well as the reinterpretations and reappropriations of, Freud's theories over the past century and a quarter, weighing the respective arguments and analyzing their implications for our understandings of self and society as well as for the actions that result from these understandings.
 Students will be able to evaluate their own assumptions in regard to the above-listed topics and potentially reevaluate their beliefs in light of both Freud's theories and the subsequent challenges to them.


 Students will come to understand the vast impact of Freud's work on modern culture and art, and be able to evaluate the underlying influence (as well as, sometimes, direct representation) of Freud's thought in a variety of works of art, literature, film, and popular culture.
 Students will learn about practices of Freudian interpretation and how it moves from a clinical to a popular context, thus decisively shaping our contemporary habits of reading and understanding.
 Students will evaluate the literary and rhetorical strategies of Freud's own texts and explore the intersections of scientific or theoretical work and literary style.
 Students will develop a deeper understanding of the challenges and benefits of interdisciplinary thinking, and be able to appreciate the ways in which different discourses and genres attempt to answer similar questions through different methods and approaches."

Teaching Method


Evaluation Method

Class participation
Discussion section
Exam, final
Writing assignments

Class Materials (Required)

 Sigmund Freud, The Freud Reader, ed. Peter Gay (Norton)
ISBN-13: 978-0393314038
 Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (Norton)
ISBN-13: 978-0393007435
 Franz Kafka, Letter to the Father (Schocken)
ISBN-13: 978-0805212662

Class Attributes

Literature and Arts Foundational Discipline
Literature & Fine Arts Distro Area

Associated Classes

DIS - Kresge Centennial Hall 2-319: Fri 1:00PM - 1:50PM

DIS - Kresge Centennial Hall 2-415: Fri 1:00PM - 1:50PM