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Freud's Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies

Freud's Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies: An Introduction

Henk de Berg
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 171
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  • Book Info
    Freud's Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies
    Book Description:

    Few figures have had as much influence on Western thought as Sigmund Freud. His ideas permeate our culture to such a degree that an understanding of them is indispensable. Yet many otherwise well-informed students in the humanities labor under misconcepti

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-600-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. A Note on Freud’s Life and Works
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Note on Sources and Citations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Part One: Mind and Society

    • 1: The Birth of Psychoanalysis
      (pp. 1-16)

      Psychoanalysis has permeated the contemporary mind to such an extent that an introduction to its main tenets would seem almost superfluous. Superego and id have become household names; we are all familiar with Freudian slips; we all know that boys secretly desire their mothers (and girls their fathers), that dreams are wish-fulfillments, and that somehow everything and anything is supposed to be about sex. Is there anything more to it? Well, there is. Besides, the cult status of psychoanalysis has generated a multitude of misconceptions about Freud’s ideas. In other words, not only is there more to know than most...

    • 2: How to Gain Access to the Unconscious
      (pp. 17-48)

      Not everyone manages to find a balance between inner urges and social demands. Sometimes people fail to repress the things they unconsciously wish to repress, and the strangulated affects are converted into physical symptoms. Or, alternatively, they repress their drives to the extent of losing touch with this part of themselves and feel strangely empty as a result. In some cases, the reasons for the imbalance can be found in the nature of the social demands; one only needs to think of the uncompromising expectations of moral propriety placed on middle-class women in Freud’s Vienna or Victorian England. In other...

    • 3: The Unconscious and Society
      (pp. 49-70)

      The preceding chapters have uncovered something I have not yet been able to explain, the contradictory nature of the unconscious. For example, we observed that dreams can satisfy both unconscious sensual wishes and the unconscious desire of our social conscience to punish us for deeds and desires it considers immoral. More importantly, on several occasions we made the observation that people are simultaneously subject to unconscious pressure from sensual wishes striving for satisfaction and to unconscious counter-pressure in the form of a repression process pushing these wishes back. These observations show that the unconscious is not unified, but split; that...

  8. Part Two: Literature and Culture

    • 4: The Psychoanalysis of Literature
      (pp. 73-108)

      How can Freud’s ideas be applied to the study of literature? And how do they contribute to our understanding of the world we live in? These questions are the subject of part 2. I shall be seeking to answer them in as concrete a manner as possible, not through theoretical reflection but by looking at a number of representative psychoanalytic studies of literary and cultural phenomena. The present chapter is devoted to four interpretations of works of fiction: Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Heine’s “Lore-Ley”; and two fairy tales, “The Fisherman and the Jinny,” and “Snow White.” The next chapter focuses on the...

    • 5: The Psychoanalysis of Culture
      (pp. 109-142)

      In the previous chapter, the focus was on the interpretation of individual works of fiction. In the present chapter, I wish to examine the application of psychoanalysis to a number of social phenomena. My point of departure will be Freud’s Totem und Tabu (Totem and Taboo, 1913).

      Totem und Tabu ranks as one of Freud’s least convincing works. One of its early critics, the American anthropologist A. L. Kroeber, who was by no means unsympathetic towards psychoanalysis, considered it to be so weak that he compared demolishing it to breaking a butterfly on the wheel.¹ Academic opinion of the book...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 143-150)
  10. Index
    (pp. 151-155)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 156-156)