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Self-Analysis in Literary Study: Exploring Hidden Agendas

Edited by Daniel Rancour-Laferriere
Copyright Date: 1994
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 230
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  • Book Info
    Self-Analysis in Literary Study
    Book Description:

    What makes one reader look for issues of social conformity in Kafka's Metamorphosis while another concentrates on the relationship between Gregor Samsa and his father? Self-Analysis in Literary Study investigates how the psychoanalytic self-analysis enables readers to gain a deeper understanding of literature as well as themselves. In the past scholars have largely ignored self-analysis as an aid to approaching literature. The contributors in Self-Analysis in Literary Study boldly explore how the psyche affects intellectual intellectual discovery in the realm of applied psychoanalysis. Jeffrey Berman confronts a close friend's suicide through Camus and his student's diaries, kept for an English class. Language, family history, and an attachment to Kafka are addressed in David Bleich's essay. Barbara Ann Schapiro writes of her attraction to Virginia Woolf during her emotional senior year of college. Other essayists include Daniel Rancour-Laferriere, Norman N. Holland, Bernard J. Paris, Steven Rosen, and Michael Steig. Written for both scholars in the fields of psychology and literature and for a general audience intrigued by self- analysis as a tool for gaining insight, Self-Analysis in Literary Study answers traditional questions about literature and raises challenging new ones.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6939-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)

    As New York University Press inaugurates a new series of books on literature and psychoanalysis, it seems appropriate to pause and reflect briefly upon the history of psychoanalytic literary criticism. For a century now it has struggled to define its relationship to its two contentious progenitors and come of age. After glancing at its origins, we may be in a better position to speculate on its future.

    Psychoanalytic literary criticism was conceived at the precise moment in which Freud, reflecting upon his self-analysis, made a connection to two plays and thus gave us a radically new approach to reading literature....

  4. Contributors
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Self-Analysis Enhances Other-Analysis
    (pp. 1-34)
    Daniel Rancour-Laferriere

    To practice psychoanalysis is, among other things, to think about oneself. It is nearly impossible to conduct other-analysis without also conducting self-analysis. At the same time, however, it is uncommon to go public with one’s self-analysis. One can normally get on with the work of treating patients, or psychoanalyzing cultural objects and practices, without having to say too much about oneself in the process.

    This volume of essays is meant to be an exception. Its purpose is to make public self-analytic material in order to demonstrate the relevance of such material specifically for literary study.

    Much of course has already...

  6. ONE “The Grief That Does Not Speak”: Suicide, Mourning, and Psychoanalytic Teaching
    (pp. 35-54)
    Jeffrey Berman

    In my teaching and writing I have spent many years exploring fictional characters’ suicides, but I have never acknowledged in print the personal reason for this professional preoccupation: the suicide of an admired college English professor. Len entered my life in 1963, when I was a freshman, and soon became my mentor and best friend. He was, apart from my parents, the most formative influence on my adulthood, awakening my love for literature, introducing me to Freud’s writings, directing an Honor’s thesis on psychoanalytic criticism, and encouraging me to become a teacher. At a time when I felt like an...

  7. TWO How I Got My Language: Forms of Self-Inclusion
    (pp. 55-83)
    David Bleich

    In this chapter, I tell a story of how I think “my” language made its way into my life. My discussion of Kafka, even in its scholarly features, presupposes readings of his work I did in high school as well as presenting views I just came to. The story is partial and circuitous, but it represents a simultaneous understanding of self, society, gender, culture, and language. This understanding is founded on critical and biographical reflection as well as the conversational reporting of events and circumstances in my life. I hope to contribute to changing some of our academic purposes through...

  8. THREE A Cyberreader Defends
    (pp. 84-110)
    Norman N. Holland

    “Darkened so, Yet shone above them all [click] th’Archangel.”

    Norwood? Yes. “Par-Los,” I said, trying to avoid his eyes. I had set my Calv down and leaned my head way back to look up where the Buckydome’s polygons arched over its tipplers. I found something relaxing in their logical march through space. The moodlight that shone from the ceiling onto my table was still showing a bright blue-green, while all the tables around me were soft, deep sunset blues and purples. The lights had sensed that my fellow topers had all arrived at post-workday tranquility except for a couple of...

  9. FOUR Pulkheria Alexandrovna and Raskolnikov, My Mother and Me
    (pp. 111-129)
    Bernard J. Paris

    Among the reasons Raskolnikov gives Sonya for having murdered the old moneylender was his desire to save his mother from poverty and his sister from sacrificing herself for his sake. Even if he could have completed his work at the university, “it would only have meant that in ten years’ time, or twelve, I might (if all went well) hope to become a teacher or a clerk with a salary of a thousand roubles.” Meanwhile his mother “would have withered away with care and grief” and “even worse things might have befallen” his sister. So he decided to get “hold...

  10. FIVE Why Natasha Bumps Her Head: The Value of Self-Analysis in the Application of Psychoanalysis to Literature
    (pp. 130-144)
    Daniel Rancour-Laferriere

    On the morning of 8 January 1990, I was sitting and peacefully reading an article in a recent issue of thePsychoanalytic Review. The article dealt with Freud’s famous 1911 case history of the psychotic German judge, Paul Schreber (SEXII, 3–82). I was enjoying the article because it was very detailed and was telling me things I had never heard before about Herr Schreber.

    Suddenly I came upon the following words about Schreber’s father: “Moritz Schreber’s successful years ended in 1851 … when a ladder fell on his head. Some months thereafter he began to suffer from head...

  11. SIX Wimp or Faggot? Subjective Considerations in Understanding the Alienation of Dostoevsky’s Underground Man
    (pp. 145-177)
    Steven Rosen

    Many beggars work my Manhattan neighborhood. I recently saw two fighting over turf. One challenged the other: “Swing, then, nigger. Come on, faggot, you just full of hot air!” Before my eyes unfolded an actual version of my literary study: the multiple meanings, some spurious but still significant, that the gestures of males in physical confrontations generate. If the fellow fails to throw a punch, he not only shows himself meek (and thereby unmasculine), but a “faggot”—though we really know nothing about his sexual orientation. Furthermore, he is called a “nigger,” by another African American, before a gathering crowd...

  12. SEVEN Attunement and Interpretation: Reading Virginia Woolf
    (pp. 178-189)
    Barbara Ann Schapiro

    During the fall of our senior year in the University of Michigan’s Honors English Program, my girlfriend Deborah and I amused ourselves by trying to guess which authors our various classmates would choose to write on for their senior theses. We had been with the same group for two years so we had a fair sense of individual personalities. Marisa would go for Jane Austen, we bet, and Fred would undoubtedly pick a poet, a Romantic, probably Coleridge. Although we guessed correctly in only a few cases, when we heard the actual selections of the others, our feeling invariably was,...

  13. EIGHT Unearthing Buried Affects and Associations in Reading: The Case of the Justified Sinner
    (pp. 190-208)
    Michael Steig

    I have for the past sixteen years used my own version of associative reader-response in teaching literature classes and in writing literary criticism. In teaching I require all students to write response-papers and distribute copies to the entire class, and I participate in all assignments. Personal associations and self-analysis are encouraged, and I have frequently used students’ papers, as well as my own, as the basis for my published criticism. Because this approach has been rewarding for both myself and my students, I am willing to risk being called an exhibitionist, narcissist, or solipsist—or an amateur therapist, for that...

  14. Index
    (pp. 209-214)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-215)