This class will take at two highly related related literary topics: Literary Darwinism, and Psychoanalysis in Literature and Film. We will begin by looking at Literary Darwinism. Why do people write plays, novels, make films? Why do they read them? Why do we go to the cinema? Why have human beings adapted to enjoy and pursue literary and cinematic texts? We will take a cursory look at the origins of Literary Darwinism - starting, of course, with Darwin himself (giving students a refresher on the concept of evolution itself), and then moving onto Freud (via Joseph Carroll).
With this grounding, we will then move onto an introduction to the relationship between Psychoanalysis, Literature and Film. We will return to Freud at this point, who will then stay with us intermittently throughout the semester. After an introductory couple of weeks where we will explore the concept and history of Psychoanalysis and how it relates to the arts (bearing in mind our first 'evolutionary' topic), we will delve into some Freudian texts, using close reading (of both his writing, and of some of the material he analyses, such as Wilhelm Jensen’s Gradiva: A Pompeiian Phantasy). After this, we will read E. T. A. Hoffman’s The Sandman, before moving onto the cinematic component of the course, which will involve some Hitchcock films (Vertigo, Rebecca). This section of the course will give students a broad introductory understanding of the complicated relationship between Psychoanalysis and the arts, whilst also enabling them to exercise skills in close reading.