104 | CCN: 32929

Rhetorical Theory and Practice in Historical Eras

On the Soul: Psychic Life from Plato to Freud

Instructor: James I. Porter,

4 Units

Before the psyche there was the soul, a principle of creaturely life (psyche, anima). But life is never independent of its entanglements with the social, the political, and nature. This course will examine theories of psychic life in four foundational works that explore these entanglements, in a dialogue that runs from classical antiquity to the early twentieth century and beyond: Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s On the Soul, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, and Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Time permitting, the last two weeks will be devoted to exploring a “test case”: Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography. Secondary readings from contemporary theorists will be discussed on a selective basis. Students from all fields welcome. No prerequisites. In-class presentations, a mid-term, and a short final paper (10-12 pp.).