Spring 2017

PSP 761: Introduction to the Writings of Sigmund Freud
Robert Paul
Tuesdays 10:00-11:30AM

Content: This course involves a reading of a selection of some of the most important works of Sigmund Freud; they will be read chronologically, allowing the student to observe the many changes in his views over the course of his psychoanalytic career, beginning with the “Studies on Hysteria” (1895)  and concluding with  “Analysis Terminable and Interminable” (1937).  Among the works to be considered in addition are “The Interpretation of Dreams”,  “Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex”, the cases of Dora and the Rat Man, the papers on Technique, the papers on metapsychology, “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, “The Ego and the Id”, and “ Symptoms, Inhibitions, and Anxiety”.

The class will meet in Seminar Room A in Tufts House (across Clifton Road, behind Clinic A). The classes are on January 24, February 7, 14, 21, 28, March 7, 21, 28, April 4, 11, 18, 25, May 2.


PSP 789 - 000: Theories of Subjectivity and Representation
Dalia Judovitz
Tuesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: Reflecting on the burden of the Cartesian legacy to modernity, Maurice Merleau-Ponty noted that “there are some ideas that make it impossible to return to a time prior to their existence, even and especially if we moved beyond them, and subjectivity is one of them.” This course will examine the elaboration of rational consciousness in Descartes as a foundational moment in the development of modern metaphysics. At issue will be the radical shift from notions of self (notably as elaborated in Montaigne) to subject, that will inaugurate not just a new understanding of truth but a new way of being and picturing the world. The relation of subjectivity to representation, the mind-body dualism, the analogy of the body to a machine, the question of technology and ideas about art will be at issue along with attendant philosophical, theoretical, literary and artistic critiques by Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Georges Canguilhem, Emile Benveniste, Michel Foucault, Louis Marin, Jean-François Lyotard, etc.

Texts: Montaigne, “Of Experience,” and “On Some Verses of Virgil” from the Essays; Descartes, Discourse on Method; Heidegger, “The Age of the World Picture,” and “The Question of Technology;” Merleau-Ponty, “The Cogito,” and “The Body as Expression and Speech” from The Phenomenology of Perception; Benveniste, “Of Subjectivity in Language;” Georges Canguilhem, “Machine and Organism;” Foucault, The Order of Things (selections); Foucault, “Technologies of the Self; Marin, On Representation (selections)” and multiple pictorial references.

Cross-listed with FREN 770R, CPLT 752R, PHIL 789R, AHIST 769R


PSP 789 - 001: Water Graves
Valérie Loichot
Wednesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: Martinican philosopher and poet Edouard Glissant writes: “The cemeteries of countries and cities of creolization, and, generally, of powerful hurricanes --Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti, New Orleans, Cartagena-- grow into glittering small towns like white beaches, whose avenues open onto fleeting illuminations rather than onto the mute space of a dull hereafter.”
The seminar focuses on the shared vulnerability -ecological, societal, cultural- of sites of creolization in the Caribbean and in the US South. Particularly, it explores how poets, fiction writers, performer and mixed-media artists represent the vulnerability of land and people in response to the lack of official rituals granted to the drowned. In addition to figuring death by drowning in the aftermath of slavery and “natural” and human-made catastrophes, their aesthetic creations serve as memorials, dirges, tombstones, and even literal supports for the regrowth of life underwater. Water, as we will see, is both a place of disconnection (island) and relation (archipelago), as well as an abyss and conduit between the dead and the living.
Hurricane Katrina, which revealed to the world the coincidence of natural and technological vulnerability, poverty, and racial inequality, will serve as a privileged platform to discuss the historically related event of the Middle Passage and the states of ecological and social frailty of our 21st century.

Course Material: In addition to the books to be purchased, readings will include selections from texts by Derek Walcott (The star Apple Kingdom), Édouard Glissant (Poetics of Relation and Overseer’s Cabin), C.L.R. James (The Black Jacobins), George Washington Cable (“Belles Demoiselles Plantation”), William Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom!), Longfellow (“The Slave in the Dismal Swamp”), Natasha Trethewey (Native Guard) for poetry, fiction, and essays; Judith Butler (Frames of War), Colin Dayan (The Law Is a White Dog), Joseph Roach (Cities of the Dead), Ian Baucom (Specters of the Atlantic), Tanya Shield’s (Bodies and Bones), Alexander Weheliye (Habeas Viscus), Vincent Brown (The Reaper’s Garden) for theory. We will also discuss creations by artists Radcliffe Bailey, EPaul Julien, Eric Waters, Kara Walker, and Beyoncé (US); Fabienne Kanor, Patricia Donatien-Yssa, and Laurent Valère (Martinique); Édouard Duval-Carrié and Gabrielle Civil (Haiti); and Jason deCaires Taylor (Guyana).

Required Books (to be Purchased with indicated ISBN only)

  • Aimé Césaire. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. 978-0819564528 or Cahier d’un retour au pays natal for students reading in French. 978-2708704206
  • Edwidge Danticat. Farming of Bones. 978-1616953492
  • NourbeSe Philip. Zong! 978-0819571694
  • Jesmyn Ward. Salvage the Bones. 978-1608196265

Particulars: Sustained participation, 3 short response papers, oral presentation, and research paper with annotated bibliography.

Cross-listed with ENG 789R, FREN 770, CPLT 751


PSP 789 - 002: Against Culture/For Education
Elizabeth Goodstein and Sander Gilman
Tuesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: Inspired by the contemporary “crisis of the humanities,” this course will explore the trajectories of educational visions and cultural ideals in western modernity after the Enlightenment. Tracing a genealogy from Humboldt to the present and paying special attention to critics at the previous fin de siècle who questioned the institutionalization and professionalization of education in the modern research university, we will address the cases for and against education as an instrument of democratization and cultural progress. We will also examine efforts to overcome or resolve the conflicts between individual and collective in modernity through alternative visions of education as a pursuit of worldly knowledge in literary Bildungsromane. This course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

Texts: Readings may include:
Hannah Arendt, “Crisis in Education” (1954)
Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1869)
John Dewey, School and Society (1899)
W.E.B. DuBois, Souls of Black Folks (1903)
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (1929)
Wilhelm von Humboldt, On Public State Education (1792)
Maria Montessori, Pedagogical Anthropology (1913)
John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated  (1852)
Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Education (1869)
Georg Simmel “The Concept and Tragedy of Culture” (1911)
Lionel Trilling, Sincerity and Authenticity (1972)
Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation” (1922)
Oscar Wilde, "The Decay of Lying" and "The Truth of Masks" (1891)

Particulars: Evaluation will be based on weekly short response papers circulated to the group for discussion and a substantial final essay based on original research.

Cross-listed with HIST 585, CPLT 751, PHIL 789R, ENG 789R


PSP 789 - 003: The Work of Memory
Angelika Bammer
Tuesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: This course will review some of the key texts and concepts in the emerging field of Memory Studies, with particular emphasis on the connections (and tensions) between history (what happened) and memory (what has been remembered and/or forgotten). In this context, we will explore some of the terms in which memory is talked about, including the distinctions between public, collective, social or cultural, memory, on the one hand, and private, personal, or autobiographical, memory, on the other hand. We will consider the political, ethical, social, aesthetic, and psychological dimensions of remembering – and its counterpart, forgetting – and consider some of the ways in which perspectives and approaches from the field of Memory Studies might offer useful analytical and interpretive tools for our work. Along the way, we will attend to some of the ways that the humanities and the natural sciences approach the study of memory differently to ask if and how dialogue across these fields can be generative.

Texts: Selections from Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Maurice Halbwachs, Paul Connerton, Richard Terdiman, Nicole Loraux, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, Daniel Schacter, Walter Benjamin, Nadine Fresco, Marianne Hirsch, Eelco Runia, Frances Yates, David Rieff. Supplementary materials include films (by Kore-eda Hirokazu, Ari Folman, Alain Resnais, Joshua Oppenheimer, Patricio Guzman, Claude Lanzmann) and selected poetry.

Particulars: Weekly responses to readings (either in narrative, analytical, or poetic form) will provide the basis for each week’s discussion. A semester project will identify a problem in the field of Memory Studies of particular relevance to your research interests, select materials and methods conducive to an exploration of this problem, and choose a meaningful form in which to present your findings.

Cross-listed with CPLT 751, HIST 585


PSP 789 - 004: Literature and Justice: Writers and Artists on Trial
Shoshana Felman
Mondays 4:00-7:00PM

Content: History has put on trial a series of outstanding thinkers. At the dawn of philosophy, Socrates drinks the cup of poison to which he is condemned by the Athenians for his influential teaching, charged with atheism, and corruption of the youth. Centuries later, in modernity, similarly influential Oscar Wilde is condemned by the English for his homosexuality, as well as for his provocative artistic style. In France, Flaubert and Baudelaire are both indicted as criminals for their first, innovative literary works; Emile Zola is condemned for defending a Jew against the state, which has convicted him. E. M. Forster writes about a rape trial / race trial of an Indian by the colonizing British Empire. Different forms of trial are instigated by religious institutions, as well as by psychoanalytic ones. Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst, compares his expulsion from the International Psychoanalytic Association, with a religious “excommunication”-- for charges of nonorthodoxy and heresy (compare Luther, Spinoza). However different, all these accused have come to stand for something greater than themselves: something that was symbolized -- and challenged – by their trials. Through the examination of a series of historical and literary trials, this course will ask: Why are literary writers, philosophers and creative thinkers, repetitively put on trial, and how in turn do they challenge culture and society and reflect their crises? What is the role of literature as a political actor in the struggles over ethics, and the struggles over meaning? How does literature become the writing of a destiny, what can be called a life testimony or Life-Writing?

Texts: Texts selected among: Plato’s Dialogues; Molière’s plays; Shakespeare’s plays; Oscar Wilde (Plays, Autobiography, Critical writings); Gustave Flaubert (novels, letters); Charles Baudelaire (poems, criticism, theory of art); Emile Zola (political writings); Herman Melville (novellas); Bertolt Brecht (plays)); Hannah Arendt (Eichmann in Jerusalem, Interviews); Spinoza (Ethics); Sigmund Freud (Psychoanalytic Writings); Jacques Lacan (psychoanalytic seminar); E. M. Forster (novel); Virginia Woolf (novel); Franz Kafka (short stories, parables).

Particulars: Regular attendance; Two short papers distributed throughout the course of the semester; Brief oral presentations; Intensive weekly reading (weekly one-page reading reports) and active preparation of texts for class discussion; ongoing participation.

Cross-listed with ENG 789, CPLT 751, FREN 780, PHIL 789, ARHIST 775R, WGS 730R, LAW 621


PSP 789 - 005: Topics in Contemporary Philosophy
Cynthia Willett
Mondays 2:00-5:00PM

Include sensations, emotions, and catharsis. 

Questions of the seminar emerge at the edge between contemporary aesthetics and politics beginning with the 1990s emergence of affect theory, relational ethics, relational aesthetics, and posthumanism.
Authors include Butler’s Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble, Paul Taylor’s Black Aesthetics, Sara Ahmed’s Cultural Politics of Emotion, as well as readings from Fred Moten, Elizabeth Grosz, Richard Kearney, Suely Rolnick, and Robin James and Rene Loraine and Suzanne Langer on music among others.

Two presentations and a term paper

Cross-listed with PHIL 551R