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ENGL 6XX - Deconstructing Psycholanalysis

Instructor: Dr. David Sigler
Schedule: TBA

Course Description:

This course tracks the back-and-forth conversation between psychoanalysis (e.g. Freud, Lacan) and deconstruction (e.g. Derrida, Spivak), as these traditions of critical theory have engaged each other warily over the years. The topics will include the interpretation of dreams, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” the question of “what does a woman want?,” the imagined origins of monotheistic religion, and the possible existence of a death instinct. Through it all, you’ll get an introduction, and perhaps more than an introduction, to two influential modes of critical theory, and make contact with other theoretical approaches (i.e. feminism, postcolonial theory) as they intersect with these debates or participate in them. It's a graduate-level theory course, but designed to be accessible to first-timers: indeed part of the purpose of the course is to give a bit of a working introduction to figures like Lacan, Freud, Derrida, and Spivak. No previous knowledge of these thinkers is presupposed. Books will include Sigmund Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Moses and Monotheism, the collected essays in The Purloined Poe, Jacques Derrida’s Resistances of Psychoanalysis and Archive Fever, and Edward W. Said’s Freud and the Non-European. Other readings, posted to D2L, may include writings by Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray, Josef Hayim Yerushalmi, Slavoj Žižek, Gayatri Spivak, Jacqueline Rose, Paul de Man, Martin Hägglund, and Barbara Johnson. Assignments will include: a mid-term conference paper, an end-of-semester seminar paper, and a presentation to our seminar in which you lead discussion.