Sigmund Freud, born in 1856, was a doctor, psychiatrist, and the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud produced a number of hugely important and influential theories about the human mind and behavior. Among the most important was the notion that humans repress sexual desires in their subconscious, which in turn causes them to act in neurotic, sometimes destructive ways. Later in life, Freud shifted his attention from clinical psychoanalysis to the ways that his theories could be applied to anthropology, art, and literature, and he is one of the most important figures in the history of literary criticism. While many of Freud’s scientific theories have since been discredited, his ideas remain enduringly authoritative within literary analysis. As Foster demonstrates, the centrality of discussions of sexual symbolism within literary scholarship can in large part be blamed on Freud.
The timeline below shows where the character Sigmund Freud appears in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: How’d He Do That?
...“Oedipus complex” (the subconscious sexual desire for one parent and hatred/jealousy of the other). Indeed, Sigmund Freud invented the Oedipus complex by “reading” his patients like a professor reads a work of... (full context)
Chapter 2: Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion
Chapter 16: It’s All About Sex…
English professors’ tendency to find sexual subtext everywhere can be traced back to Sigmund Freud . Although Freud’s obsession with subconscious sexual meaning is now somewhat discredited within the field... (full context)