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SEL3422 : Reading Freud: An Introduction to the Principles of Psychoanalytic Theory (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Robbie McLaughlan
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module aims to enhance student knowledge of Psychoanalytic Theory in such a way that:

- Explores the developmental history of psychoanalysis from the 20th Century to the contemporary moment;

- Examines different theoretical traditions within psychoanalysis and the critiques of them;

- Evaluates the relationship between psychoanalysis and cultural production;

- Enables students to recognise the theoretical distinctions between early and late Freud;

- Develops skills in critical analysis and the articulation of complicated theoretical ideas in a clear way;

- Heightens understanding of psychoanalytic theory and its application to the discipline of English Literature.

Outline Of Syllabus

Sigmund Freud imagined psychoanalysis as belonging to an intellectual legacy of disruptors that included Copernicus and Darwin, with his pioneering work in the development of psychoanalysis instituting a social revolution in the early twentieth century. This module focuses on that School of psychoanalytic theory known as 'Freudian', and is designed to introduce students to Freud's metapsychology and his theoretical vocabulary. Freud was an enthusiastic reader of literary works, but this is not a module in which Freud's ideas will be used to read literature via a psychoanalytic method. There are no literary texts on this module. Students taking Reading Freud will, instead, be expected to purchase The Freud Reader (ed. by Peter Gay) from which a curated selection of key Freudian texts will be taken. Week by week students will be introduced to the classical works of Freudian theory: The Interpretation of Dreams, a selection of his case studies (including Dora and Anna O); 'Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality', Civilisation and Its Discontents and Beyond the Pleasure Principle. In doing so, we will follow the intellectual development of Freud's work from the early years of the psychoanalysis defined by a concentration on the individual, through to the 'political turn' in the late Freud's writing in which he focuses his psychoanalytic method upon the individual within society.

As well as covering the key works of Freudian theory, this module will turn to a selection of theoretical interlocutors who extend Freud's work after his death in 1939. As the module progresses and students become more familiar/confident with psychoanalytic theory, we will turn to those figures who found in psychoanalysis a methodology that could be used to develop their own theoretical and philosophical positions. In pairing Freudian theory with the work of Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray, Reading Freud will demonstrate the intellectual legacy and importance of of Freud's writing as it escapes beyond the walls of the clinic.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity111:3016:30N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:3030:30N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will introduce the key concepts and terminology of the module. The lectures will perform the role of being a 'reading' of the relevant materiall, while simultaneously providing socio-historical context. This will provide those undertaking the course with a weekly template on possible ways to frame their writing in preparation for assessment.

Student-led study groups will be used to allow further discussion and research of the ideas governing the module. Groups will be assigned a relevant topic to discuss and research, individuals will then be asked to provide a short summary of the work undertaken to the rest of the class. This will provide both a starting point for discussion but also a further opportunity to become familiarised with the concepts and terminology required for assessment.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A75Final Essay of 3000 words.
Written exercise2M25A 1000 word encyclopaedia entry covering a psychoanalytic term.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will be asked to write a 1000 word explanation of a chosen psychoanalytic term in the style of an encyclopaedia entry. This is not an analytic exercise but one in which students will be asked to demonstrate their comprehension of a term taken from Freudian theory and to locate it within the historical development of the discipline.

The final essay will provide students with enough space to fully investigate and engage with themes that underpin the module.

Reading Lists