Darwin argued that when animals experience emotion, they are experiencing bodily events (the corners of the mouth twitch, blood pressure rises). Expression is emotional experience, not what signifies it. Influenced by Darwin, Freud was convinced that mind and body were in some way of a piece: psychological distress could affect the body and also be caused, in part at least, by the body’s troubles. Since Freud’s time, many researchers, clinicians and theorists have doubted, sometimes even ridiculed, the existence of psychosomatic and somatopsychic phenomena. But times have changed again, and we are more and more prepared to believe, at minimum, that bodily and psychical experience co-construct one another. This course will begin with a sampling of Darwin’s writing on the emotions; with Freud and Breuer’s remarks on abreaction and catharsis in Studies in Hysteria; and with a contemporary study of Hysteria by Christopher Bollas, psychoanalyst (and former English Ph.D.) interested in the idea of a body that prepares to speak, developmentally and otherwise. In this part of the course we will also consider some examples of literature on “lovesickness.” Next, we will consider the embodied character of delusional experience, through Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memories of My Nervous Illness and Freud’s commentary thereon; selections from the works of Deleuze and Guattari and Massumi on schizophrenia and expression; and essays from the anthology Psychosomatics Today: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, which will introduce us to very recent work on these topics. The last part of the course will draw from the work of Elaine Scarry (The Body in Pain), Giovanna Colombetti (The Feeling Body) and Andy Clark (Supersizing the Mind), all important proponents of “distributed”/“extended” mind. The mind may be embodied, but it’s also extended well beyond the body, by means, for example, of written texts. How might we want to conceive of literary experience accordingly?
Image: Still from Chaplin, “Modern Times”
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Image: Sam Durant’s “We Are the People” at Project Row Houses. Photo by Rick Lowe.
Below, you will find links to projects that intersect with our biennial theme, “Improvisation.” Feel free to browse and to add by emailing suggested materials to Rebecca Chenoweth or Julie Carlson.
Institutes and Societies
International Institute for the Study of Critical Improvisation (University of Guelph)
International Society for Improvised Music (see esp. “Words/Music/Images/Links”)
Art and Theater
Project Row Houses
Free Southern Theater
Fred Moten|A Wesleyan Reader’s Companion
Literary Hub: An Interview with Fred Moten, Part 1
“Do Black Lives Matter? Robin Kelley and Fred Moten”
Grisha Coleman’s “echo::system”
“echo::system on vimeo”
Philip Ringstrom, “Principles in Improvisation: A Model of Therapeutic Play in Relational Psychoanalysis”
“Dr. Phil Ringstrom on an improvisational mode of treatment,” You Tube
The art form that affirms survival, that makes happiness our business and hope not the gift of the lucky few but a turn of mind to be practiced and pursued is COMEDY. Comedy as a genre, comedy as a practice, comedy as a way of imagining will be the object and its frame of our study.
Primary texts by Aristophanes, Larry David, Billy Wilder, Menander, Shakespeare, Nichols and May.
Theory by: Aristotle, Eco, Freud, Bergson, Frye, and Young.
Image: Still from “Some Like It Hot” (United Artists)
Instructor: Aranye Fradenburg
Course: English 170, Spring 2015
By “a history of mind,” I mean a history of thinking about the mind. Is it embodied, inspired, dispersed? How do minds understand each other? How do they shape their environments, including their cultural environments, and how are they shaped by them in turn? To find out how good minds from the past explored these questions, we will read Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul) and Poetics; Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex; St. Augustine’s Confessions, Book X; Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy; Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding; Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy; Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia,” and selections from The Interpretation of Dreams; all interspersed with various poems and commentaries from different eras. This course will give you a foundation for thinking about more particular histories of mind on topics like creativity, love, play, and madness.
Image: Aristotle, detail from “De Anima”
Instructor: Kay Young
Course: English 236, Fall 2014
How does literature feel? What creates its feelings states? What relation is there between literary feeling and human emotion?
Why is emotional understanding important—to our work as scholars, teachers, and humanists?
In this seminar, we’ll explore affect—its nature, meanings, presence, and significance to the study of the verbal arts—through neuroscience, contemporary psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literary theory.
Each seminar member will choose a literary work by any author, from any period, genre, nation about which s/he has strong feelings to read as an affect theory project at the seminar’s close.
We’ll bring selections from the “Affect/ Feeling/Emotion” section of the Literature and Mind Field List, as well as from:
Henry James’ *The Golden Bowl*, Joseph LeDoux’s *The Feeling Brain*, Antonio Damasio’s*The Feeling of What Happens*, Jaak Penksepp’s *Affective Neuroscience*, Alan Schore’s*Affect Regulation*, William James’ *The Principles of Psychology*, Donna Orange’s*Emotional Understanding*, Thomas Dixon’s *From Passion to Emotions*, essays David Miall and Don Kuiken, Martha Nussbaum’s *Love’s Knowledge* and/or *Upheavals of Thought*.
Image: Mamma Andersson, “Cry”