Freud and the Non-European
This course takes its title from a book by Edward Said, a critic and comparativist. In this study, Said acknowledges Sigmund Freud’s Eurocentrism but lays stress on “his work’s power to instigate new thought, as well as to illuminate new situations that he himself might never have dreamed of.” We’ll follow Said’s lead as we work to understand Freud’s engagements with the world beyond Europe and as we see how this world has taken up and transformed psychoanalysis.
The seminar offers an introduction to psychoanalytic theory, and no prior familiarity with Freud’s work will be assumed. In addition to reading Freud (with a focus on his late works) and Said, we’ll study works by anticolonial and antifascist psychoanalysts from Frantz Fanon to the present. We’ll ask what these analysts’ theories and practices have to do with the study of literature, and we’ll consider both the promise and the limits of psychoanalytic interpretations of culture. Representative titles will include *Freud in the Pampas*, *Freud’s Mexico*, *The Puerto Rican Syndrome*, and *Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor*. Throughout the term, we’ll practice sustaining critical ambivalence, learning how to combine generosity with rigor in our responses to assigned readings.