F 02:00-05:00 235 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou
In this course we will study the relationship between obsession and identity, personal and/or national. Obsession according to Merriam Webster Dictionary is: “ A persistent disturbing preoccupation with someone or something or with an often unreasonable idea or feeling” and the Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health: “A recurrent persistent thought, image or impulse that is unwanted and distressing (ego-dystonic) that comes involuntarily to the mind despite attempts to ignore or suppress it.”
In Obsession: A History, Lennard J.Davis brings out the component of close observation embedded in the concept and in the term deriving from the Latin “obsessio” and allied to the acquisitiveness and dominance of the Latin “possessio.” These particular verbal expressions, in their context, were used to describe war situations and the taking of cities.
Despite the fact that the selected novels are distinctly different in style, content, written by, both, male and female authors, and belong to different chronological periods in Greek literary history, the dynamics of the relationship between obsession and the struggle for identity are remarkably similar.
In all the selected fiction, the keen, unwavering focus of obsession conceals an identity crisis during which the subject experiences the undoing of selfhood, his/her distinct identity in the world, as the subject has known it. As such, the absorption into the obsession allows for the energy of compulsion to construct a new world which the character can control by delimitation and exclusion of elements outside of it. Thus, by limiting the dynamics of the world that has challenged his or her identity, the subject, now, can recreate that identity in the newly constructed world and in relation to the focus of obsession.
Even though psychoanalysis itself gained legitimacy gradually in Greece, particularly after the 1950s, with the increasing appearance of Freud’s works into Greek translations, all the selected authors from the end of the 19th to the 21st century are familiar with psychotherapy and psychoanalytic practices.