Independent Minds, Working Together


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The Mind of the Novel: Psychology and Literature

(40) The Mind of the Novel: Psychology and Literature - Michael Casey, Department of Psychology

In this seminar we will examine the relationship between psychology and literature.  Students will study the different facets of that uniquely human behavior: reading.  What purpose does fictional writing serve for the human species; what evolutionary role does it play?  What is the psychological experience of reading a novel or short story?  How does this ability develop?  What role does language play in shaping consciousness and the mind, and how does fiction serve a related function?  How does the unconscious (both personal and collective) shape our experience of reading fiction?  A further course objective will be to analyze literary works in terms of psychological theories.  In particular we will focus on the works of Freud and Jung, and how they have influenced both psychology and literature over the last century.  Through textual analysis we will explore the role of myths and fairy tales in the socialization of children and adults, and the ability of such works to transmit information about interpersonal relationships, morality, and social isolation.  Students will gain an appreciation for and understanding of character development and motivation as symbol and archetype.  In addition to focusing on the psychological approach to literature, students will develop the necessary skills to write an effective analytical essay with a clear focus, logical organization, and meaningful detail.  Textbooks may include The Uses of Enchantment: The meaning and importance of fairy tales (B. Bettelheim); A Primer of Freudian Psychology (C. S. Hall); A Primer of Jungian Psychology (C. S. Hall & V. J. Nordby); Man and his Symbols (C. G. Jung).