Psychoanalysis, Marxism and Cultural Studies
This course is designed for you to achieve three goals:
1) critical reading of both primary and secondary theoretical texts to get a general un derstanding of important contemporary literary theories,
2) engagement in theoretical issues (such as text and textuality, canon formation, interpretation, ideology,
discourse, identity, power relations, etc.) as they arise from our reading of the primary texts, and
3) analyzing literary texts from different theoretical perspectives with an awareness of the limitations of each.
Modern and Contemporary Critical Theories form quite a complicated
network of discourses which cannot be clearly divided into different
camps, nor lined up in a chronological order. Instead, in between
different theoretical schools, there are intersections and
appropriation, contradictions and negotiations, not to mention
convergence of different schools in a later theoretical school, or
re-visiting or discovery of earlier theorists. Different
maps can be drawn of this theoretical terrain, just as different routes
can be taken by students to enter, struggle with and get intellectually
engaged in the theoretical issues.
Psychoanalysis and Marxism "seem" the exact opposite to each other, the one looking inward at human psyche and the other, outward at social relations. Still, they share two views about human existence (and literature alike): contradiction and social conditioning. While Psychoanalysis discloses the contradictions hidden in repression, defense mechanism and the very use of language, Marxism challenges the contradictions in the form of exploitation, alienation and ideological control. As for social control, it is (the Name of) the Father in Freudian psychoanalysis, and its power exercised through ideology, State Apparatuses, discourse or hegemony in Marxism.
Desires vs. the various forms and modes of social control leave human
subject fragmented and human body docile, but not completely
powerless--at least not for all the theorists. We will
discuss terms such as the carnivalesque (Bakhtin), the semiotic (Kristeva),
rhizome (Gattari and Deleuze), gender as performance, etc., to find ways
of evading or challenging the straightjacket of patriarchy and its
Questions to bear in mind when reading and making your reports:
•(modified from ¡§Doxography versus Inquiry¡¨ by Donald G. Marshall.
Sadoff, Dianne F and William E. Cain, eds. Teaching Contemporary Theory to Undergraduates. NY: MLA 1994: 84)