English | Literature & Society
L779 | 26023 | Fleissner


L779  26023 FLEISSNER (#4 or #5)
Literature & Society

1:25p – 4:25p M

TOPIC:  LITERATURE, PSYCHOLOGY, AND AMERICAN MODERNITY

A number of recent critical developments attest to a renewed
interest in the psychological dimension of literature, now
understood as a historical question as well as a theoretical and
hermeneutic one.  These developments include the extension of
disability studies to include cognitive difference; attention to pre-
psychoanalytic diagnoses such as nostalgia, neurasthenia, and
maladies of the will; debates between historicist and psychoanalytic
critics over the status of the human subject; a wide range of
studies that consider literature in relation to affect or the
emotions, etc.  These literary-critical works have appeared
alongside a plethora of more popularized texts that seek to explore,
defend, or critique the turn within the field of psychology itself
away from psychoanalysis and toward a more biologized, evolutionary
understanding of the human being.  For such studies, notably,
literature often appears aligned with psychoanalysis as a kind of
residual formation.

This course will consider these paralleled developments side by side
with some relevant works of nineteenth- and twentieth-century
American literature.  Probable literary texts will include stories
by Poe; Melville’s “Bartleby” and Billy Budd; Oliver Wendell Holmes’
Elsie Venner; Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”; stories by Charles
Chesnutt; Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives; W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls
of Black Folk; Nella Larsen’s Quicksand; and Richard Wright’s Native
Son.
Theoretical readings will range from nineteenth-century writers
(William James, Nietzsche, S. Weir Mitchell, George Beard) to those
from the early to mid-twentieth century (Freud, Merleau-Ponty) to
contemporary theorists (Deleuze, Cavell, Zizek, Copjec) and literary
critics working on the history of psychology in relation to the
writers that they read.