ENG 307: Literature and Psychology

Dr. Canivell 3 credits

          The purpose of this course is to acquaint the student with literary works studied under the perspective of psychoanalysis. In this seminar-style class, you will become acquainted with basic psychoanalytical terminology as well as some literary criticism in the field. You will write a comprehensive essay (10 pages) on a topic approved by me; you will also need to do three required oral presentations about different subjects:

  • The first, about one of the authors of the selected reading list.

  • The second about literary criticism: How to do scholarly literary criticism in the field of psychoanalysis? In short, how to deconstruct the work of a given author from the course using Freud’s studies about art and literature. IDLS students may forego the traditional oral presentation and teach a class using psychoanalytical parameters as your guidelines. You will select an author from the list and demonstrate how his work can be read using psychoanalysis.  In order for the class to do the original reading and participate in the discussion you will lead, I will allow you to sign up for the same reading as someone else; however, you have to make sure to cover a different angle so that your presentation does not overlap. This will mean that some people will be doing their first presentationlate in the semester, and in some cases that may mean after others' second or third presentation. Note that the presentations are just numbered so you understand what is required for each.
  • The third is a presentation and written work (paper style) on a book from the additional reading list analyzed from the perspective of the following topics: Eros, Thanatos, Ego, Libido, Id, Superego, Religion, Unconscious, Civilization and its Discontents. Oedipus Complex.

          In addition to the assignments mentioned above, you will write a short essay on each author read in class, which you will use to guide your very informed discussion. I will expect you to include quotes and passages you are especially keen on, and state, with a degree of sophistication, the reasons why these passages are remarkable.

          This class is reading and writing intensive. If you do not feel you can read and write an extensive amount of pages, you might consider switching to a less-intensive class.

Back to Courses


James Madison University JMU English Department
Keezell Room 215
P: 540-568-6170
F: 540-568-2983

JMU Web Privacy Statement

© James Madison University Department of English - All Rights Reserved