Psychology 311a


Doug Davis
Department of Psychology
Haverford College
Sharpless 407
Phone: 896-1236
Sharpless 410 (or 4 College Lane)
M 1:30-4

This seminar is devoted to exploration of the writing and impact of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). We will read widely in Freud’s work, from Interpretation of Dreams to the clinical papers and essays on cultural theory. In applying Freud’s ideas to the intellectual questions of interest to us we’ll take up a series of topics from psychology, cultural theorists, and philosophy, including

·         The psychodynamics of dream and fantasy

·         The construction of gender identity and sexuality

·         21st centuary identities in Freudian perspective

Each of us will develop essays and demonstrations to share with the seminar.

August 29, 2005: Course overview (streaming RealMedia)

September 5, 2005: A close look at a sample dream, “dissecting my own pelvis

·        Assigned reading: Crick/Freud, Introduction and Chapters 2-5 (pp. vii-xxxvii, 78-210)

·        D2 comments on Freud’s self-dissection dream

September 12, 2005: Freud’s dream psychology: The Botanical Monograph

·        Assigned reading: Crick/Freud, Chapters 6-7

September 19, 2005: Freud’s neurotica

·        Assigned reading: Gay/Freud: pp. xiii-xxix, 3-126; Davis (1994)

·        Short writing assignment on dream interpretation due Friday, September 23

Required Print Resources

Gay, Peter. A Freud Reader. (pb)

Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. (Joyce Crick, Trans., 1999)

·         A copy of Brill's early translation is on Psych Web.

·         Doug's teaching notes on The Interpretation of Dreams: Part 1, Part 2

D2 Freudiana

·         Freud's Dream Book

o                    "Irma"'s Injection (and Emma's Nose)

o                    Self-dissection

o                    The Botanical Monograph

o                    Company at table d'hôte

o                    Erikson: The dream specimen of psychoanalysis

·         Breuer’s “Bertha,” Freud’s “Dora

Other On-line Resources
(starter list)

Davis, D.A. (1990a). Freud's unwritten case. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 7, 185-209.

Davis, D.A. (1990b). Abortion and its discontents: Reproductive psychodynamics in early psychoanalysis. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Boston, August.

Davis, D.A. (1990c). Writing Freud. transcription of Haverford College Faculty Research Talk, November 29, 1990.

Davis, D.A. (1994). A theory for the 90s: Freud's seduction theory in historical context. Psychoanalytic Review, 81, 627-640.

Dolittle, Hilda (HD). (1956). Tribute to Freud. (excerpt)

Erikson, E.H. (1954). The dream specimen of psychoanalysis. In Knight, R., & Friedman, C.R. (Eds.). Psychoanalytic psychiatry and psychology: Clinical and theoretical papers. Austen Riggs Center, Vol. 1. New York: International Universities Press. pp. 131-170.

Fonda, Mark. (1995). Sigmund Freud on the Web. Detailed notes on many of Freud’s most major works.

Holland, Norman N. (1992). The Critical I. New York: Columbia University Press. (On-line version at

O'Donoghue, Diane. (2005). Lingua Flora: Deciphering the "Dream of the Botanical Monograph." American Imago 62.2, 157-177.

Owens, Margaret E. (2004). Forgetting Signorelli: Monstrous visions of the resurrection of the dead. American Imago, 61, 7-33.

Sprengnether, Madelon. (1995). Reading Freud's life. American Imago, 52.1 9-54

Comments and questions:

Several of you have asked me about whether you can take the class if your Freud introduction is a little stale, a little sparse, or rather different than what you suspect I teach in Haverford's introductory psych. If you have no background in Freud I need to talk with you before you sign up for the class. But if you simply want to catch up, I'm very ready to help you do this. I suggest you begin by browsing the links on Freud I use in Psychology 105, and you might consider listening to my lecture from last spring on Freud's "Irma" dream. {This audio link requires RealPlayer and will only work within our local Internet domain.}

First writing assignment: Pick a dream of Freud's and critically evaluate some aspect of his interpretation and see whether you can add a plausible interpretation of your own.  Your "evidence" for such an interpretation might be the way Freud uses the dream or related images in other parts of The Interpretation of Dreams, or something we discussed in class, or something you have read in the critical literature about Freud.  If you'd like to speak with me about what that literature might be -- or any other aspect of the assignment – let me know.  I think you should be able to do this in a couple of pages (say, at about 450-500 words per single-spaced page, something under a thousand words).  I was asked whether you could interpret a dream of your own.  On thinking about this: why not?  I still want you to tackle some aspect of one of the dreams Freud presents, but I would be fascinated to read something of your own if you wish to share it.  I suggest you exercise some of the same reticence Freud displays about becoming more personal than you’re comfortable being in your presentation of possible motives for your dream. There are often good reasons for a phrasing like "here other associations are brought to mind which it would not be appropriate to present." As Freud says (cf. Goethe, “You can’t tell the good stuff to kids.” I’d like to have these (email’s fine) by some time Friday, September 23, so I can digest them by class time 9/30. I’ll comment and you may choose to revise these drafts.