Introducing Freud at the Freud Museum
Tutor: Keith Barrett BA PhD
As Freud is so frequently referred to it is often assumed that we already know everything about him, but the superficial manner in which his life and ideas are normally discussed conceals the fact that his writings and the thought behind them have always been poorly understood, despite the controversy that has raged around his ideas since they first became internationally known.
Freud scholarship took a significant step forward in January 2017 with the publication, by Cambridge University Press, of Joel Whitebook’s ‘Freud: an Intellectual Biography’ – the first major re-assessment of his work since the last century, and the first comprehensive study to draw on the results of thirty-five years of ‘Freud Studies’, and to take into account the vital import of the feminist critique of Freud, as well as the profound changes in our understanding of Freud brought about by advances in psychoanalysis itself.
Taking our cue from this, the course will introduce not only Freud’s classic writings but also the results of the most recent scholarship devoted to the re-assessment of his achievements - and the current state of play in the principal debates surrounding his legacy.
Each session will begin from selected passages from Freud’s writings (all the readings are taken from ‘The Freud Reader’ edited by Peter Gay), and the course will offer the opportunity to familiarise (or re-familiarise) oneself directly with his actual words, clarifying the import of his most important concepts and theories, as well as his approach to the practice of psychoanalysis. We will place Freud’s writings accurately in their historical context – while also bringing into focus the relevance of his work to debates that are taking place at the present time.
The course will be accessible to beginners but is also designed for those already familiar with Freud’s work who wish to acquaint themselves with the results of the latest research and scholarship and update themselves on the intellectual issues and controversies surrounding it.