Detective Fiction and Psychoanalysis
This course will explore the connections between detective fiction and psychoanalysis, starting from the near synchronicity of their first appearances and their mutually reinforcing methods and narrative structures. We will read Sophocles’ Oedipus the King as the archtype of both forms, considering why the question of guilt (“Who did it?”) insistently in these texts becomes a question of identity (“Who am I?”). We will also consider other aspects of identity—sexuality, race, and class—that appear repeatedly imbricated in the explorations of self of the two genres. This reading together of detective
fiction and psychoanalysis will allow us to explore various different theoretical approaches (including narratology, structuralism, deconstruction) and to grapple with our compulsions to identify mysteries, to narrate, and to emplot them—and ourselves.
Texts will include Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Apuleius’ Golden Ass, short stories by E. A. Poe and A. C. Doyle, Collins’ The Moonstone, and Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! There will be several papers required, including a long final paper based on a book of the student’s own choosing read outside of class.