Spring 2012

PSP 789: "Discerning Psychoses in Literature, Culture, and Society"
Th 10:00 AM-1:00 PM

Content: For this seminar, we will attend to representations of gender, race, and sexuality inflected by literary narratives of psychosis, delusion, and magical thinking in modern American fiction and poetry.  In particular, we will analyze and interpret such figures as Ernest Hemingway (The Garden of Eden), Hilda Doolittle (Tribute to Freud and The Sword Went Out To Sea), Djuna Barnes (Nightwood), Nella Larsen (Quicksand and Passing), Robert Lowell (Selected Poems), James Merrill (The Changing Light at Sandover), Patrick McGrath (Spider and Ghost Town), Robert Lindner, “The Jet-Propelled Couch,” Rivka Galchen (Atmospheric Disturbances), Mohsin Hamid, (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), and Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad).  We will begin by exploring foundational theories, case studies, and controversies that bear on the psychoanalysis of both florid and “ordinary” psychoses including psychoanalytic readings of Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memoirs of My Nervous Illness in Freud’s Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides) and excerpts from Lacan’s The Psychoses (Seminar III), and “On a Question Prior to Any Possible Treatment of Psychosis.” In addition, we will examine essays on psychosis by Melanie Klein and D. W. Winnicott, up through such contemporary theorists as Michel Foucault, Jacques-Alain Miller, Eric Laurent, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Willy Apollon, Françoise Davoine, Jean-Max Gaudillière, and Emily Martin among others.  Finally, we will consider cultural and ethnographic accounts of psychoses, examining contemporary popular narrative, film, and recent societal symptoms of delusion in the public sphere.

Particulars: Requirements for this seminar include a short response paper, a research essay, and a presentation.

[Cross-listed with CPLT 751 and ENG 789R] 

PSP 789: "Primal Scenes: Psychoanalysis, Literature, and the Limits of the Human"
W 1:00-4:00 PM

Content: In this course, we shall examine how psychoanalysis both establishes and challenges the boundaries of the human.  Beginning with a close reading of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, we shall explore how Freud’s derives the specificity of the human unconscious (via the complex operations of the dream-work) by turning to literary language, theatrical spaces and events, and technological operations.  Throughout the course, we will focus on the Freudian conception of the ‘primal scene’ as a way of examining how psychoanalytic theory challenges traditional conceptions of temporality, repetition, sexuality and desire, writing, mourning, cruelty, and the status of the historical event.

Texts may include: The Interpretation of Dreams (Freud); Freud’s case histories (including ‘Dora,’ ‘The Wolf-Man,’ ‘The Rat-Man,’ ‘Little Hans,’ and ‘Schreber’) Phèdre (Racine); Le Ravissment de Lol V. Stein (Duras); Moderato cantabile (Duras); La Chambre claire (Barthes); Selections from: Combray and A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (Proust); La Bête humaine (Zola); To the Lighthouse (Woolf) Muriel (dir. Alain Resnais).  Additional readings may include works by: Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Avital Ronell, Samuel Weber, Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, Hélène Cixous, & Sarah Kofman.

[Cross-listed with FREN 780 and CPLT 751]


WGS 589 / CPLT 751 / PHIL 789:  "Foucault"
Tu 10:00 AM-1:00 PM

Permission is required from the Department of Women’s Studies. Please contact the professor directly to obtain permission. Participation in this course also satisfies the feminist theory course requirement for Women's Studies graduate certificate students

Content: For some decades now, it has been much easier to have a passionate opinion about Michel Foucault than a careful reading of him. He is a saint or a demon, a liberator or a desecrator, the heroic promoter of an agenda or the debauched prophet of despair. This seminar will be less concerned to foster impassioned uses of Foucault, or even to analyze his remarkable susceptibility to abuse, than it will be to think with and about some texts that bear his name. We will be particularly concerned with his Œethical¹ and Œpolitical¹ texts texts about the consequences of medicalizing madness or normalcy, about the powers coded into the category Œsexuality,¹ about ancient or contemporary alternatives to contemporary management of human life. Members of the seminar will be encouraged to connect their readings in Foucault with their own intellectual projects.

Texts: History of Madness, Abnormal, Discipline and Punish, History of Sexuality Volume One, and Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, as well as other selected essays. Because of its length and difficulty, students are strongly encouraged to read History of Madness before the start of the semester.

Particulars: Assignments include a heavy reading load, two short writing exercises, and a final paper.

FILM 582 / CPLT 751: Contemporary Film & Media Theory
MWF 9:35-10:25 AM (lectures); Tu 8:00-10:00 PM (screenings).

Content: This course considers key methodological approaches that have shaped contemporary thinking about film and media. These include semiotics, narratology, psychoanalysis, feminist and critical theory.

Objectives: By the end of this class you will be able to:Identify and describe key trends of Western film theory and criticism written after 1960.Use, and critique, the methods of semiology, narratology, psychoanalysis, critical and cultural theory as ways of understanding contemporary film and media.

Texts: Roland Barthes, Image/Music/Text (Noonday Press, 1978); Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard UP, 1980); Christian Metz, Film Language:  A Semiotics of the Cinema (Chicago:  U of Chicago P, 1991); The Imaginary Signifier:  Psychoanalysis and the Cinema (Bloomington:  Indian UP, 1977); Robert Stam et al.  New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics:  Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Beyond (London:  Routledge, 1992). All other texts will be on electronic reserve or on book reserve.