Victoria & Freud: Psychoanalysis and the Nineteenth-Century Novel


This seminar explores the literary roots of psychoanalysis, focusing on the many points of exchange between the Victorian novel and the work of Sigmund Freud, for whom literature was an indispensable interlocutor.  Emphasis will be on the method of close reading, on understanding psychoanalytic concepts, and on critically evaluating the commonalities between literature and psychoanalysis.  Requirements include oral presentations on close reading passages, written presentations on psychoanalytic texts, a mid-term take-home essay (3-5pgs), and a final essay incorporating literary theory or literary criticism research (10 pgs).  Graduate students will develop an article length critical paper.


Jan 12 (M1)    Introduction: The Freudian Thing

Jan 14              Shoshana Felman, “To Open The Question”; Sigmund Freud, “Creative

Writers and Daydreaming”; Brooks, “Reading for the Plot”

Jan 16              Edgar Allen Poe, “The Purloined Letter”; Jacques Lacan, “Seminar on the

Purloined Letter”

Jan 21              ETA Hoffmann, “The Sandman”; Freud, “The Uncanny;” Hertz, “Freud

and the Sandman”

Jan 23              Freud, “The Sexual Life of Human Beings;” “Repression;” “The


Jan 26 (M3)    George Eliot, “The Lifted Veil”

Jan 28              Freud, “On Dreams”; “The Dream Work”; Roman Jakobson, “The

Metaphoric and Metonymic Poles”; Jonathan Culler, excerpt on metaphor

Jan 30              Jacques Lacan, The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious

Feb 2 (M4)     Freud, “Parapraxes”

Feb 4               “Parapraxes” continued; “The Sense of Symptoms;”

Feb 6               Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Feb 9 (M5)     Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Feb 11             Beyond the Pleasure Principle continued

Feb 13             Brooks, “Freud’s Masterplots”

Feb 16 (M6)   Great Expectations, Chaps 1-12

Feb 18             Vol 1, Chaps 13-19

Feb 20             Vol 2, Chaps 1-8

Feb 23 (M7)   Vol 2, Chaps 9-20

Feb 25             Vol 3, Chaps 1-7

Feb 27             Vol 3, Chaps 8-15

Mar 2 (M8)    Great Expectations, Conclusion

Mar 4              Peter Brooks, “Repetition, Repression, Return”

Mar 6              Midterm Essay Due

                        Freud, Dora

Mar 9 (M9)    Dora continued; Hertz, “Dora’s Secrets”

Mar 11                        Woman in White Preface, First Epoch, 1-8

Mar 13                        9-end of Hartright’s narrative

Mar 16 (M10)            Gilmore 1-end of First Epoch; Second Epoch 1-2

Mar 18                        Second Epoch 3-7

Mar 20                        Second Epoch 8- end of Eliza’s narrative

Mar 30 (M11) Woman in White conclusion

Apr 1              Freud, Mourning and Melancholia

Apr 3              Lacan, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis excerpt

Apr 6 (M12)   The Wings of the Dove  Preface, Book First

Apr 8              Book Second, Book Third

Apr 10                        Book Fourth

Apr 15                        Final Essay Abstracts Due

                                  Book Fifth

Apr 17                        Book Sixth

Apr 20 (M14) Book Seventh

Apr 22                        Book Eighth

Apr 24                        Book Ninth

Apr 27 (M15) Wings of the Dove conclusion

Apr 29                        Slavoj Zizek, “The Materialism of James”