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EN2E8/3E8 Literature & Psychoanalysis

This module is running 2023-24!


This module aims to introduce students to some of the main concepts of psychoanalysis as developed by Freud – repression, the unconscious, the drives, the ego, superego, and id, unconscious fantasy, etc.

The course will also look at some post-Freudian psychoanalytic developments (Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Didier Anzieu, Jacques Lacan, Jean Laplanche, Frantz Fanon, Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok). As well as his theoretical works we will study some of Freud’s clinical case studies, his readings of works of art, and his understanding of broad cultural formations, such as religious or kinship structures. We will examine various literary texts to see how psychoanalysis can open them up to different forms of questioning, but also to see the challenges which the literary offers to psychoanalysis as a global theory of psychic production and meaning.

Prospective students should note that the module has a strong theoretical component and students will be expected to engage seriously with psychoanalytic theory, its development and internal debates. In terms of reading, the module is heavily weighted to "theory" over "literature," and students should be prepared for that.

Some weeks have quite heavy reading, and it might be a good idea to read some of the longer prose texts over the summer if possible.

Teaching Methods

This module will consist of weekly 90 minute seminars. We will also be using Moodle. Full instructions and guidance will be provided during the first seminar of Term 1.

Assessment (2022-2023):

Intermediate year students: 1 x 3,000 word essay + 1 x 4,000 word essay.

Final year students: 1 x 3,000 word essay + 1 x 5,000 word essay.


The Library has recently acquired the PEP (Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing) database and many psychoanalytic texts, including all of Freud, are available on it. You can access PEP through the library portal. While you will be able to download and print out many of the weekly set texts from PEP, I encourage you to buy some of them in paperback, personal finances permitting. With the longer texts it can be cheaper to buy them online (often clean second hand copies) than to print them out.

The Freud texts (with the exception of The Interpretation of Dreams; see below) are taken from:

SE - The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. James Strachey, vols. 1-24, London: The Hogarth Press, 1953-74. This is now available in Vintage Paperback. 

PFL - The Pelican Freud Library, vols. 1-15, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1975-86. This is a paperback selected version of the Standard Edition of the James Strachey translation listed above. Its great advantage is that it groups material thematically (i.e. all the sexuality or literature material in the same volume) rather than chronologically as the SE does. This makes it cheaper and more convenient. Unfortunately it is now out of print, and only available secondhand, in which form it is still relatively easily found. Please do NOT use any Freud texts that are not from the "Standard Edition." Translations vary widely in quality, and some versions are highly inadequate in terms of notes and textual apparatus. Copies of all set Freud texts in both SE and PFL editions are available in the library in Short Loan Collection and the Grid.

Set Texts to Buy (2023-24):

  1. Sheridan LeFanu, Carmillain In a Glass Darkly, Oxford World’s Classics, Edited and with an Introduction by Robert Tracy. Carmillais widely available as a free download, but this edition is recommended.
  2. Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, Norton Critical Editions (3rd Edition), W. W. Norton, Deborah Esch and Jonathan Warren, eds. (make sure to buy this edition as it contains additional required reading)
  3. Nella Larsen, Quicksand, available in Quicksand and Passing, Serpent’s Tail Classics. Other editions are acceptable.
  4. Abraham and M. Torok, The Wolfman’s Magic Word: A Cryptonomy, University of Minnesota Press.
  5. Samuel Beckett, Molloy(preferably Faber, 2009, with introduction by Shane Weller; other editions are acceptable).
  6. Valerie Solanas, Scum Manifesto(with an introduction by Avital Ronnell), Verso Books (other editions acceptable).

Suggestion: The key reference book for the course is the great theoretical dictionary of psychoanalytic concepts, The Language of Psychoanalysis, by Jean Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis, (1967), which is indispensable for any study of psychoanalysis. This work is available electronically on PEP and the library has multiple copies (SLC and the Grid). Still, it might be worth investing in a copy if you can find an affordable one (which currently is not so easy).

Advance Advice:

There is a somewhat heavy reading load for this module, and you might consider doing some of the reading ahead of time. Though many of the texts might be hard to assimilate without guidance, it could be worth reading some of the longer literary texts in advance (Quicksand, Carmilla, The Turn of the Screw, Molloy) as well as the the case history ("The Wolfman," Term 2, Weeks 2-3).

For those looking for a general introduction to Freudian thought, a good place to start is Freud’s Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis (Standard Edition volume 11, 1909-10) available on PEP. I also recommend a new biography of Freud: Matt Ffytche, Sigmund Freud, Reaktion Books, 2022.



Prof. Daniel Katz

Detailed Syllabus 2023-24!