Spring 2019





PSP 789-001 - Studies in Twentieth-Century American Literature:  Transnational Surrealism, Psychoanalysis, and the Occult

Walter Kalaidjian

W 1-4pm

This interdisciplinary seminar will explore the literary, pictorial, and psychoanalytic registers of transnational surrealist aesthetics.  Readings and discussions will begin with surrealist manifestoes of the modern interwar period, Salvador Dalí’s early dialogue with Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille’s writings for the journal and secret society Acéphale, and particular attention will be devoted to the gender and sexual politics of women’s place within and beyond surrealism by examining the feminist writing, visual art, and occult practices of Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, and Ithell Colquhoun.  In addition, the seminar will study postcolonial surrealist aesthetics in figures such as Frida Kahlo, Suzanne Cesaire and Wifredo Lam.

The seminar will employ the archival resources of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library and investigate surrealism’s migration at mid-century from Europe to London and finally New York City in little magazines such as MinotaureLondon Bulletin, VVV , and focusing, in particular, on the New York circle represented by the Julien Levy Gallery and in View:  Charles Henri Ford’s avant-garde journal of the 1940s.  In the public sphere, the seminar will consider surrealism’s intervention in Dalí’s Dream of Venus pavilion for the 1939 New York World’s fair and his later Hollywood collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock in Spellbound (1945). 

Cross-listed with ENG 752R-1, CPLT, WGSS


PSP 789-002 - Revolutionary Perversions: Literature, Sexuality, Anachrony 

Elissa Marder

T 1-4PM

Content: In this course, we shall examine how representations of “non-normative” sexuality in several major nineteenth-century works relate to the problem of representing history in the aftermath of the French revolution.  Many of the most famous canonical literary texts written in French prior to 1871 include references to impotence, lesbianism, hysteria, cross dressing, bestiality, masturbation and prostitution in the context of narratives that re-write or un-write the legacy of the French revolution. By focusing on the literary treatment of these ‘perverse’ forms of sexuality, we shall attempt to see how they encourage us to think differently about questions of historical transmission, language, gender, and sovereignty.

Texts: Possible texts include: La Philosophie dans le boudoir (Sade), René (Chateaubriand), Ourika, Mme de Duras, Armance (Stendhal), Le Père Goriotand La Fille aux yeux d’or (Balzac), L’Education sentimentale (Flaubert), “Le Secret de l’Echafaud” (Villiers de L’Isle-Adam), and selections from Baudelaire’s prose poems. Critical readings may include works by Freud, Marx, Benjamin, Blanchot, Daniel Arasse, Derrida, and others.  

Particulars: TBA

Cross-listed with CPLT 751 and FREN 775


PSP 789-003 - Literature and Justice: Writers on Trial

Shoshana Felman

M 4-7pm

Content: History has put on trial a series of creative 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 (similarly charismatic and ironically subversive) Oscar Wilde is condemned by the English for his homosexuality, as well as for his provocative artistic style. In France, the most outstanding writers-- Flaubert and Baudelaire-- are both indicted as criminals for their first (shockingly innovative) literary works; Emile Zola is condemned for defending a Jew against the state which has convicted him, flees from France to England to escape imprisonment.

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 legal dramas, this course will ask: Why are literary writers, artists and philosophers, repetitively put on trial, and how in turn do they challenge culture and society? What is the role of art and literature as political actors in the struggles over ethics, and the struggles over meaning?

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 (Essays, 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 assignment (weekly one-page reading reports) and active preparation of texts for class discussion; ongoing participation.

***NOTE: Recommended for advanced undergraduates can take the class (by permission).

Cross-listed with CPLT 751, ENG 789, FREN 780


PSP 789-004 - Drives: Between Psychoanalysis and Literature

Claire Nouvet

W 4:15-7:15pm

The course will address the notion of “drive” as it imposes itself, if somewhat enigmatically, in two distinct fields: psychoanalysis and literature. While claiming that drive theory is “indispensable,” Freud acknowledged that he only “painfully felt” his way toward the drives and their vicissitudes. We will trace some of the steps of this painstaking analysis (infantile sexuality, the “death drive,” his analysis of war) before turning to literature and to the “drive” that it also sometimes invokes. If writing responds to a drive, what then drives writing? What does writing make of/with this drive? And what difference does it make?  The course will be taught in English.


Sigmund Freud:   Drives and Their Vicissitudes

                          Three Essays on Sexuality

                          Beyond the Pleasure Principle

                          Thoughts for the Times on War and Death

Guillaume Apollinaire:  Calligrammes

Georges Bataille:    Le bleu du ciel

Roger Caillois:   Le mythe et l’homme [selections]

Louis-Ferdinand Céline: Casse-pipe suivi du Carnet du cuirassier Destouches

Salvador Dalí:    Oui 2 [selections]

                        Le mythe tragique de l’Angélus de Millet

Cross-listed with FREN 


PSP 789-005 - 20th Century Philosophy Seminar:  Deleuze:  Difference, Sense, Politics

John Stuhr

M 6:15-9:15pm

Description, Objectives, and Texts: This seminar is an in-depth critical study of the ontological, epistemological, and political thought of Gilles Deleuze.  

A)Some course readings will be drawn from Deleuze’s work on thinkers such as Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Bergson, Proust, and Foucault as well as some of Deleuze’s other writings (e.g. What is Philosophy? (Qu'est-ce que la philosophie?, 1991)) and interviews.  B)However, the focus and great majority of seminar energy and time will be on two crucial works:  Difference and Repetition (Différence et répétition, 1968) and The Logic of Sense (Logique du sens, 1969).  C)In addition, some attention will be paid to the ways in which these two volumes both inform, and are illuminated by, Deleuze’s collaborations with Félix Guattari in Anti-Oedipus (Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 1. L'Anti-Œdipe, 1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 2. Mille Plateaux, 1980).  

Course Requirements: Requirements include seminar participation and a short analytical and short critical paper for seminar discussion.  The principal course requirement is a final paper (aimed at journal submission and publication) on a topic developed in consultation with the instructor.

Cross-listed with PHIL 540R