Cruelty and Exploitation

Course offered in Spring 2019

An introduction to critical perspectives on the union of psychoanalysis and Marxism. Can Freud and Marx be brought into conversation? Should they be? To what end?

The collision of psychoanalysis and Marxism in the first half of the twentieth century gave rise to a diverse set of efforts to synthesize Freud’s understanding of the psyche with Marx’s dialectical view of social transformation. This seminar examines how major philosophers, theoreticians, and literary writers from the 1920s on imagined the intersection of psychological and socio-economic structures. We address two major questions: (1) Do theories of the psyche (psychoanalytic and beyond) have consequences for society at large, or are their conclusions limited to the individual/family? (2) What possibilities does a joint reading of Marx and Freud open for such concepts as cruelty, exploitation, and domination? For freedom?


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