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Big Ideas/Great Thinkers in Social Psychology

The course will serve as an introduction to psychoanalytic approaches to social psychology. There is a widespread belief that the early pioneers of the psychoanalytic movement focused entirely on intrapsychic processes of the individual with an emphasis on drives (misnamed instincts in many English translations) which were slaves to biological imperatives, a reliance on an energic theory of the mind, mechanistic in its orientation, and tinged with the accepted prejudices of day with regard to sex, gender and development. Like with many prejudices, there are some kernels of truth in the above characterization. And whatever the reality of early psychoanalytic approaches, theories and their clinical and applied practices, this portrayal in no way gives an accurate picture of the current state of affairs. The work of Nancy Chodorow, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Julliet Mitchell and others have not only changed the face of psychoanalysis, but have become important figures in feminist studies more generally. This having been stated, the focus of this course will be three of the texts of the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and for three important reasons. First, the feminist analysts mentioned above, have all been serious students of Freud, and their revisions of Freud’s theories and the redirection of their emphasis cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of their rootedness in the original works. Second, the language of psychoanalysis, even in its contemporary manifestions, cannot be understood except by reference to the termini technici of the original texts. And third, a focus on the original texts in Freudian social psychology, will present a more nuanced appreciation of the original thinking embodied in those early texts, and challenge the half-truths contained in popular thinking about early psychoanalysis. This course is primarily lecture based, although questions and discussion are encouraged. Students will be required to demonstrate their knowledge of the theoretical content in the three texts on two mid-term and one final examination in the course. Agreement with the theories under discussion is neither supported nor required. Rather, students will be encouraged to critically wrestle with the ideas presented in the lectures, class discussions and texts. Active participation and engaged learning is essential in this course.

SOC PSY 2L03

Big Ideas/Great Thinkers in Social Psychology

Unit(s): 3.0 Level(s): II Term(s): Fall Offered?: Yes

The course will serve as an introduction to psychoanalytic approaches to social psychology. There is a widespread belief that the early pioneers of the psychoanalytic movement focused entirely on intrapsychic processes of the individual with an emphasis on drives (misnamed instincts in many English translations) which were slaves to biological imperatives, a reliance on an energic theory of the mind, mechanistic in its orientation, and tinged with the accepted prejudices of day with regard to sex, gender and development. Like with many prejudices, there are some kernels of truth in the above characterization. And whatever the reality of early psychoanalytic approaches, theories and their clinical and applied practices, this portrayal in no way gives an accurate picture of the current state of affairs. The work of Nancy Chodorow, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Julliet Mitchell and others have not only changed the face of psychoanalysis, but have become important figures in feminist studies more generally. This having been stated, the focus of this course will be three of the texts of the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and for three important reasons. First, the feminist analysts mentioned above, have all been serious students of Freud, and their revisions of Freud’s theories and the redirection of their emphasis cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of their rootedness in the original works. Second, the language of psychoanalysis, even in its contemporary manifestions, cannot be understood except by reference to the termini technici of the original texts. And third, a focus on the original texts in Freudian social psychology, will present a more nuanced appreciation of the original thinking embodied in those early texts, and challenge the half-truths contained in popular thinking about early psychoanalysis. This course is primarily lecture based, although questions and discussion are encouraged. Students will be required to demonstrate their knowledge of the theoretical content in the three texts on two mid-term and one final examination in the course. Agreement with the theories under discussion is neither supported nor required. Rather, students will be encouraged to critically wrestle with the ideas presented in the lectures, class discussions and texts. Active participation and engaged learning is essential in this course.


Cyril Levitt

Professor

Prerequisite(s): Registration in Level II or above of an Honours program in Faculty of Social Sciences.