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E491 SIGMUND FREUD QUESTIONS

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Assigned: "The Uncanny" (929-52).

"The Uncanny"

1. On 930-32 top, Freud indicates that one methodological path to follow regarding the uncanny consists in an "examination of linguistic usage." What insights does he present on 931-34 based upon his close study of the German words heimlich and unheimlich and variants thereof? As he traces the denotations and connotations of those words, what eventually becomes apparent about the way they relate to each other?

2. On 935-38, what are the basics of the Hoffman tale "The Sandman" as Freud recounts them? What inference does Freud draw from the story concerning the nature of the protagonist Nathaniel's fear of suffering an injury to his eyes? What is "uncanny" about his experience?

3. On 939-42, Freud examines the uncanniness of the automaton Olympia in Hoffman's "The Sandman," which lead him to a discussion of the double or doppelgänger in literature and life. According to Freud, how did this phenomenon originate? How did it develop subsequently, and why?

4. On 943-47, Freud discusses the basis of anxiety about the "evil eye" and fear of the dead, zombies, ghosts, and those who seem to have special powers from some external agency. He employs some key terms here -- what do the terms "omnipotence of thoughts" and "animism" mean? What does the uncanny have to do with "repression," and in what sense is Freud giving us an anthropological account of the uncanny?

5. On 947-48, Freud refers to the doubts he supposes have arisen in attentive readers of his thoughts about the uncanny. What doubts does he refer to, and how much importance does he lend them?

6. On 949-50, what insights does Freud draw from the distinction he makes regarding "repressed" infantile complexes and "surmounted" primitive ancestral beliefs? While both can lead to a feeling of the uncanny, what differences does Freud find between them, and what is significant about those differences for our understanding of the uncanny?

7. On 950-52, Freud turns to the topic of literature. How does he differentiate between the uncanny's quality and prevalence in literary texts and the uncanny as we experience it in everyday life, outside the realm of literature? What advantages does a writer of fiction have over real-life events? Why is literature such a good thing to analyze for those interested in the phenomenon of the uncanny?

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN 0-393-97429-4.


Created by admin. Last Modification: Wednesday 20 July, 2011 05:03:51 PM PDT by admin_main.

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