ENG 420: Advanced Studies in Theory and Cultural Studies

Darwin/Marx/Freud: Revolutions of Theory & Modernity


Dr. Hefner 3 credits

          This course examines the writings of three of the most influential thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. Each ushered in a revolution in his own discipline(s); each articulated frameworks that have—for better or worse—become a significant foundation for later explorations in critical and cultural theory. Raising questions about the nature of the human, the relationship between the individual and society, the connections between present and past, the challenges to tradition and inherited knowledge, and the anxieties of modernity and civilization itself, these figures set the stage for the transformation of modern intellectual culture. In this course, we will consider the primary writings of Darwin, Marx, and Freud as texts concerned with argument, narrative, and interpretation; as influences on writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and as inspirations for theoretical models that might allow us to understand the complexities of culture in retrospect. Supplemental literary texts and theoretical transformations may be introduced, but the vast majority of the course will cover the work of our three principle subjects and a larger consideration of how the close reading of these influential texts might open rich and complex ways of understanding various historical, cultural, and even personal responses to modernity.

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