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12. Freud and Fiction

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry turns his attention to the relationship between authorship and the psyche. Freud's meditations on the fundamental drives governing human behavior are read through the lens of literary critic Peter Brooks. The origins of Freud's work on the "pleasure principle" and his subsequent revision of it are charted, and the immediate and constant influence of Freudian thought on literary production is asserted. Brooks' contributions to literary theory are explored: particularly the coupling of multiple Freudian principles, including the pleasure principle and the death wish, and their application to narrative structures. At the lecture's conclusion, the professor returns to the children's story, Tony the Tow Truck, to suggest the universality of Brooks' argument.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Brooks' Debt to Jakobson and de Man
06:10 - Chapter 2. Brooks' Debt to Freud
13:14 - Chapter 3. Brooks' Departure from Freud
22:04 - Chapter 4. Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle
27:01 - Chapter 5. "The Aim of All Life is Death"
34:08 - Chapter 6. Merging the Pleasure Principle with the Death Wish
41:42 - Chapter 7. Tony the Tow Truck Revisited

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2009.