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Getting into character: On psychoanalysis and literature in the classroom


This article reflects on literary criticism’s longstanding disciplinary aversion to psychoanalytic character study, using personal experience to rethink the value of this method in the undergraduate classroom.

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  1. I have in mind here the early work of Harold Bloom and Frederick Crews as representative examples of the psycho-biographical and content-focused psychoanalytic literary scholarship from 1970s and Shoshana Felman, Peter Brooks, Barbara Johnson, Leo Bersani, and Jane Gallop as some of the more well-known Lacanian (and often Derridian) affiliates from the 1980s. For further accounts of the relationship between literary theory and psychoanalysis, see Terry Eagleton’s canonical Literary Theory: An Introduction and Maud Ellman’s edited collection Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism.


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Correspondence to Carolyn Laubender.

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Laubender, C. Getting into character: On psychoanalysis and literature in the classroom. Psychoanal Cult Soc 27, 386–390 (2022).

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  • psychoanalysis
  • literature
  • literary criticism
  • teaching
  • character