Freud's Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies

Freud's Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies

An Introduction

Henk de Berg


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A genuinely accessible introduction to Freud's theory and its application to literary and cultural studies.
Few figures have had as much influence on Western thought as Sigmund Freud. His ideas permeate our culture to such a degree that an understanding of them is indispensable. Yet many otherwise well-informed students in the humanities labor under misconceptions about Freudian theory. There are countless introductions to Freudian psychoanalysis but, surprisingly, none that combine a genuinely accessible account of Freud's ideas with an introduction to their use in literary and cultural studies, as this book does. Written specifically for use by advanced undergraduate and graduate students in courses dealing with literary and cultural criticism, it is also of interest to the general reader. The first part of the book explains Freud's key ideas and refutes many popular misconceptions, using examples throughout. The assumption underlying this account is that Freud offers not simply a model of the mind, but an analysis of the relation between the individual and society. The second part addresses the implications of Freudian psychoanalysis for the study of literature and culture, again using plentiful examples. Existing books focus either on Freudian psychoanalysis in general or on psychoanalytic literary or cultural criticism; the latter tend to be abstract and theoretical in nature. None of them are suitable for readers who are interested in psychoanalysis as a tool for literary and cultural criticism but have no firm knowledge of Freud's ideas. Freud's Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies fills this gap.

Henk de Berg is Professor of German at the University of Sheffield, UK.

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Table of Contents

A Note on Freud's Life and Works
Note on Sources and Citations
The Birth of Psychoanalysis
How to Gain Access to the Unconscious
The Unconcious and Society
The Psychoanalysis of Literature
The Psychoanalysis of Culture


This is as good an introductory text as one can possibly hope for. -- Peter Gay

[Henk de Berg] pairs a brief, clear introduction to Freud and a demonstration of how thinking about Freud can enrich literary and cultural studies. His Freud is one of the most convincing assessments of that oft-maligned thinker in years... The book reconstructs a Freud of deep human sympathies, wide reading, and wide-ranging importance... Well researched and including a brief bibliography.... Highly recommended. CHOICE

[The book] is clearly and forcefully written, keeps technical language to a minimum, brings in numerous real-life examples ... and firmly opposes many of the current cliches about Freud and psychoanalysis. AMERICAN IMAGO

...clear, lively, unpedantic.... It serves its purpose well. GERMAN QUARTERLY

[A] new standard work that provides an introduction to the bases of Freudian literary interpretation....GERMANISTIK

[A]n incisive, clearly structured yet never simplified introduction to Freud....Throughout, this is a critical guide in the very best sense and an invaluable text for teachers of cultural studies to recommend to students new to Freud or sceptical of his theories. FORUM OF MODERN LANGUAGE STUDIES

[T]his introduction to Freud succeeds brilliantly in presenting complex ideas lucidly. MODERN AUSTRIAN LITERATURE

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