In this course, we will dive deep into the theories of psychoanalysis to explore how Freud’s work shapes our modern understanding of dreams, desires, love, sexuality, neurosis, religion, and society. We will read from Freud’s most influential texts, including The Interpretation of Dreams, Studies on Hysteria, and Civilization and Its Discontents, as well as the classic essays “On Narcissism,” and “The Uncanny.” Focusing on Freud’s conception of the unconscious, we will ask what it means to have part of our own psyches unknown to us and consider whether “who we are” is ever as stable as we might like to believe. What does it mean to study something like "the unconscious" that is inherently unknowable? Though Dr. Freud considered himself a man of science, his work has found a home in the humanities, particularly in literature and film. This course will explore the boundary between science and the arts, considering what kind of knowledge each discipline produces and how psychoanalysis complicates this divide.
We will pair readings of Freud with contemporary texts from psychoanalysts and their critics to see how psychoanalysis holds up today. We will also read selections of literature by Vladmir Nabokov, Philip Roth, and Arthur Schnitzler and watch films by Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, and Paul Thomas Anderson to round out our literary understanding of Freud. Furthermore, we will see modern art works at the RISD museum to explore the relationship between modernity, its modes of production, and psychoanalysis. Freud is often found, and maybe rightly so, to be the biggest male chauvinist. We will also discuss some important arguments made by feminist theorists for and against psychoanalysis.
Modeled after an undergraduate seminar, this course will offer you the opportunity to prepare yourself for college-level courses of all disciplines. Most importantly, this course will ask you to think critically. Reading a text, especially Freud’s, means reading between the lines and looking below the surface. These critical reading skills will benefit you in whichever major you choose, from literature to economics to physics. During the course of this class, you will be introduced to the major psychoanalytic terms and concepts, preparing you to interrogate them critically, and enabling you to apply them to contemporary debates. You will find that the strategies of close reading, textual analysis, and argumentation that you will be introduced to will have strong relevance to any area related to cultural studies, such as literature, history, sociology, anthropology or philosophy.
Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.