Earl Jackson, Jr.
Spring 97

Senior Seminar:
Hysteria and Paranoia 2.0

ATTENTION!Click HERE for the Streamlined Syllabus Lite for quicker reference.

Course Description

Drawing upon several material analyses of culture – semiotics, psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminist theory, etc., our discussions will presume that the notion of an autonomous and transcendent „self“ a Renaissance myth and ideological construction that represents neither a viable entity nor a presupposition useful in a critically rigorous understanding of the social construction of the „individual“ or „subject.“ In contradistinction to Descartes’s cogito, the „subject“ as we will conceive it is not the origin but the effect of signification/representation. Within this framework, we will consider „hysteria“ and „paranoia“ as two categories within a secular typology of subjectivity.

Definitions of „Hysteria“ and „Paranoia“

Freud considered both hysteria and paranoia „pathological [modes] of defense,“ but of distinctly different pathological types: he classified „hysteria“ under „neuroses“ and „paranoia“ under psychoses. A „neurosis“ is a disorder typified by symptoms that symbolize a psychical conflict – between something that could disrupt the ego (an unaccceptable wish or a traumatic memory) and the ego’s defense against that disruption.1 „Hysteria“ is a somatic expression of such conflicts.2 A psychosis is a complete break with reality, often brought about when, instead of repressing an unacceptable wish or memory, the subject repudiates it – projects it onto the external world, disavowing it as part of her or himself entirely. Paranoia is a prominent form of this repudiation, an „intellectual psychosis.“ [Draft K, 108].

What We Mean by „Freud“ and „Psychoanalysis“

When I invoke „Freud“ or „psychoanalysis“ I do not mean the „Freud“ of the Anglo-American ego psychologists or the „Freud“ of Betty Friedan or Jeffrey Masson. I mean the most radical traditions of Freudian psychoanalytic speculation, that can inform a „sexually marginal critical practice,“ one in which, as Freud writes in 1905, „the exclusive sexual interest felt by men for women is also a problem that needs elucidating and is not a self-evident fact based upon an attraction that is ultimately of a chemical nature“ ( Three Essays 146n.1). In this sense, psychoanalysis is useful because „it conceives sexuality . . . as a highly mobile psychical reality that is organized symbolically, and so is always in excess of the realm of biological needs and the cultural functions it is made to serve“ (Fletcher 94) and because it elucidates how „sexuality [is] at work in all practices of the sign,“ including literature (Rose, „Sexuality“ 229).

Although we begin with psychoanalysis and remain attentive to this discipline throughout the course, it will not be the „master narrative“ or the sole critical apparatus in understanding these terms. Just as the „subject“ of knowledge does not exist prior to the signifying acts that seem to emanate from it, „objects“ of knowledge do not exist as such before their „discovery“ but are produced by the discursive totalities that configure that „discovery.“ This is neither idealism nor solipsism. An intelligible object (either physical or conceptual) is „intelligible“ because it is realized within a discursive totality – in Foucault’s definition „the positive conditions of a complex group of relations“ which „are established between institutions, economic and social processes, behavioural patterns, systems of norms, techniques, types of classification, modes of characterization.“3 We will assume therefore, that even the psychoanalytic definitions of „hysteria“ and „paranoia“ which will guide us initially are historically specific and susceptible to discursive transformations. After examining how „hysteria“ and „paranoia“ are discursively produced, we will investigate ways in which they become discursively productive – serving as paradigms of experience and modes of representational agency.

Who is the Seminar For?

The seminar is for a small number of people with shared critical interests in the topic at hand. Attendence and active participation is essential. While no one wants a monolithic group of devotees and lively informed disagreement and discussion are always welcome, there is a specific framework within which we must agree to commit ourselves, for the group to have a common language and theoretical horizon. Each perspective student should understand the what composes framework and seriously consider whether or not it is suitable for you before you sign up for the course. These are the things you should know about the class:

  • 1. This is not an introductory class. While everyone will be struggling together with this very difficult material (myself included), this class should not be considered a crash course in theory for a student who has never studied it before. I would hope that ideally every student will have some prior systematic familiarity with psychoanalytic theory and/or semiotics – for example the material provided in introductory texts such as Kaja Silverman’s The Subject of Semiotics, or Belsey’s Critical Practice, and some in class experience of these texts – for example at least one other class of mine or one of Troy Boone’s, or the equivalent elsewhere.

  • 2. Psychoanalysis is not psychology. And we will never conflate the two (nor will psychology figure in our discussions).

  • 3. Psychoanalysis is not an „application“ protocol. We will not „apply“ psychoanalysis to
  • works of literature, their writers, or characters in the texts.
  • 4. Writers and traditions who WILL NEVER BE INCLUDED in our definition and discussions of psychoanalysis include: Jung; Adler; Chodorow; ego-psychologists; objects-relations school. Anyone for whom any of these schools are personal priorities, would be much happier in another course.
  • 5. Explicit Texts. While neither sensationalistic nor celebratory, some of the texts we will read are sexually graphic, and at least one includes images of violence against women. I include these texts with all due consideration to the very serious issues raised, a seriousness the texts themselves reflect. If you feel you cannot read these texts or do not wish to be exposed to them, please do not take the course. Continued attendence in the class after receipt of this syllabus will mean that you have read this disclaimer and have agreed to study these texts in good faith.



Hysteria – Breuer, „The Case of Anna O.“; Freud, „Frau Emmy von N.“, „Miss Lucy R.; „Fr”ulein Elizabeth von R.“ (Breuer and Freud, Studies on Hysteria [SoH] 21-181); Selections from Freud’s letters to Fliess, including Drafts K and N


Breuer and Freud, „On the Mechanism of Hysterical Phenomena (Preliminary Communication)“ [SoH 3-17]; Freud, „The Psychotherapy of Hysteria“ [SoH 255-305]; Freud, Fragments of An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (Dora); Rose, Dinesen, „The Bloody Sheet“; Pollack, „Burning Sky“


Bellamy and D’Allesandro, Real; Freud, „The Unconscious“


Freud, „Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides)“ (Three Case Histories); Schreber (excerpts of Memories).


Swanwick, „Ginugagap“; Campbell, „Who Goes There?“ Ballard, „Motel Architecture“; „The Terminal Beach“. Woolrich, „Rear Window“; „Three O’Clock.“


Ballard ,
The Atrocity Exhbition; the work of surrealist and dadaist artists including: Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst; Etc.


Philip K. Dick,A Scanner Darkly ;


Robert Gl¸ck, Margery Kempe; Jerome: After the Pageant



Kevin Killian, Little Men.

Ten Zoe Beloff, Beyond; Pat Cadigan, Fools


Ballard, J. G., The Atrocity Exhibition;

Bellamy, Dodie and Sam D’Allesandro. : The Letters of Mina Harker and Sam D’Allesandro;

Beloff, Zoe, Beyond [CD]l

Cadigan, Pat Fools;

Dick, Philip K., A Scanner Darkly;

Freud and Breuer, Studies on Hysteria;

Freud, Three Case Histories;

Freud, A Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria;

Freud, Interpretation of Dreams;

Gl¸ck, Robert. Margery Kempe;

Killian, Kevin, Little Men;.

Klein, Adam and Thomas Avena, Jerome: After the Banquet


Excerpts from Freud’s letters to Fliess; „An Outline for a Scientific Psychology“; „The Unconscious;“ Excerpts from D. P. Schreber, Memories of My Nervous Illness; Jacques Lacan, excerpts from Seminar III: The Psychoses ; Excerpts from Ecrits; Ballard, „Motel Architecture“ and „The Terminal Beach;“ Isaak Dinesen, „The Bloody Sheet;“ Rachel Pollock, „Burning Sky;“ Dick, „The Electric Ant;“ and „Faith of Our Fathers;“ John W. Campbell, „Who Goes There?“ Michael Swanwick, „Ginguugap;“


  • [1] Regular Attendence and participation, having done at least all the readings assigned.

  • [2] Each student must have and use an individual email account; I will collect the email addresses of all the members of the seminar by Thursday of the second week of class, and distribute a list of these addresses to the entire class via email. Weekly response papers must be sent to me electronically [see #3]. Each student is to engage me in some sort of conversation/dialogue about issues that arise in the class at least twice in the quarter, however everyone is free to do this as often as she or he wishes. I also encourage students to subscribe to a „Topics“ oriented discussion group relevant to the interests of the class, and to log this.
  • [3] Weekly 2-3 page typed informal response to something in that week’s readings. These are to be submitted to me electronically by Friday at 5Pm. Although I will put no one „on the spot,“ I will collate portions of each person’s responses and post them on our Website (anonymously, unless instructed by the student to include her or his name), to stimulate discussion online and to kick off discussion in class the following week. Occasionally I will distribute specific questions I would like you to focus on in these response papers. Although they are informal, any sources even obliquely referenced must be noted clearly in the text parenthetically or as a footnote.
  • [4] A 1-2 page proposal for the final research paper is due the third week of class.
  • [5] A more developed abstract and annotated tentative bibliography due fifth week of class; [6] A rough draft of the paper is due sixth week of class;
  • [7] At least one email conference over feedback of rough draft of the paper.
  • [8] Students must be prepared to synopsize and discuss their work-in-progress with each other in the seminar.
  • [9] Completed twenty-thirty page research paper, properly annotated and written in accordance with the Modern Language Association Style Sheet is due during finals week.
  • [10] Acquired intimacy with two essential reference works:
    • Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Trans. and ed. James Strachey in collaboration with Anna Freud. London: The Hogarth Press. 24 vols. 1953-74. [Complete set is housed at the Reserves Desk.]

    • Laplanche, Jean and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis. The Language of Psychoanalysis. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. New York: Norton, 1973. [A crucial glossary. There is at least one copy in the Reference Library. Any use of any psychoanalytic or quasi-psychoanalytic term should prompt close consultation with this source. For your papers, this will be considered the chief arbiter of conceptual definitions (in other words, The American Heritage Dictionary, an old Intro to Psychology textbook, etc. will not be considered a legitimate source for definitions. Use of such sources will result in a paper returned unread.)


    Fantasy Campus Menu – Click on that title for the menu of my other online archived web-integrated courses. Or click on the titles below to go to my most recently taught courses

    Detective Fictions

    Out There: Science Fiction Practice and Theory

    Review – A menu of dialogues and other materials developed for my Semiotics and Psychoanalysis course, but relevant to many others, including this one.
    Conversations – A menu of conversations with multi purpi (?)

    Lets Deviant! – always good advice.