Forum 1 – Humanities (Fall 2018)
Respond to ONE of the following questions. You must provide concrete examples from the psychoanalytic readings and the film to back up your analysis. Putting concepts in your own words is crucial, but you'll also want to integrate at least one relevant quotation from the texts in your response (include the page number in brackets). You are encouraged to both apply the concepts and look for ways to go beyond them: in what ways are they productive for reading the film, but in what ways may they fail to provide the entire story? Finally, while this is an opportunity for you to try out ideas, keep your response as well-argued, focused, and clear as possible. There is no word count, but it would be difficult to answer any of these questions in under 250 words. Please identify at the beginning of your post which question you are answering in parentheses. For example: “(Question #2).” Good luck!
1) In "Dissection of the Personality," Freud provides a complex picture of the psyche as an invariable site of conflict. The ego is weak and frail, the superego is pitiless and terrifying, and repressed thoughts within the id are "virtually immortal." Human identity itself, based around cannibalistic incorporation of lost objects, is inherently unstable and ambivalent. Analyze a scene, space, or character in Psycho for the ways they embody concepts outlined in "Dissection of the Personality."
2) According to Melanie Klein, from infancy onwards, human beings are terrified by their vulnerability, dependency, and capacity for self-destruction. In response, two defensive positions are developed to make life more tolerable. The first, the paranoid-schizoid position, divides the world into absolute "good" and "bad," which allows the person to project all of their self-hatred and aggression onto the "bad" object, while keeping the "good" object safe from harm. The more developmentally advanced "depressive position" recognizes that the same object may be experienced as both "good" and "bad"--loving and withholding; caring and hostile. The depressive position, however, entails the fear that in a state of rage, the subject may destroy the object they rely upon, eliminating all goodness in the process. For Klein, we address what we hate in ourselves by projecting these hatreds outwards through processes such envious spoiling and projective identification. To heal our relationships from our destructive capacities, we then engage in reparations to try to keep "goodness" alive in our world. Analyze a character, or relationships between characters in Psycho, employing concepts drawn from Melanie Klein.
3) Near the end of Psycho, a psychiatrist provides a "psychoanalytic" explanation for Norman's behavior. Write a response to this "expert" that challenges some of his aspirations to certainty. That is, you should provide your own psychoanalytic reading of the case, but one that acknowledges the possibility of uncertainty and "opens up" the issues rather than closing them down. What do you think this psychiatrist may have got right, but what might he have missed? Your response may employ concepts drawn from any of the readings we have completed this term (Tyson through to Freud and Klein). As an alternative, write a psychoanalytic "case study" of any one character in the film (from Norman and Marion through to Sam, Lila, or even the psychiatrist himself). Again, try to open things up with your interpretation, rather than forcing them into a neat diagnostic box; you want to keep the complexity of the subjects at play in your reading. In your response, please consider psychic issues first and foremost, but also note how the psychic may be informed by the social such as conventions related to gender, sexuality, class, and power.
Forum 1 – English (Fall 2018)
In a post of 250 words, respond to ONE of the following questions. You must provide concrete examples from the literature and the film to back up your analysis. Make specific, pointed references to the texts to support your argument. (I recommend quoting the readings and film dialogue, where necessary, for specific support). You may also make reference to our class discussion or the reading by Jeffrey Weinstock. Please note that your comment can also be, in part, a reply to someone else's comment, as long as it fulfills the above criteria and answers the question. A word of advice: make your focus specific and small; do not try to give a general overview of the text and/or film. Get into a specific example, and draw that out to a consideration of the texts at large. Please identify at the beginning of your post which question you are answering in parentheses. For example: “(Question #2).”
1) As we discussed, Emily Dickinson’s poem, “One need not be a chamber—to be haunted—” is a way of looking at the mind through the lens of Gothic, where mental and physical spaces collapse and interconnect. Choose a key scene in which Psycho relates to this aspect of Dickinson’s poem. What is the “superior spectre” in Psycho and how, where, or in what situations does it manifest?
2) As we discussed, “The Fall of the House of Usher” can be read as an elaborate, melodramatic staging of the return of the repressed in the form of numerous desires (both wonderful and terrible) and conflicts that the characters feel. Compare this aspect of “Usher” to Psycho. If we read Psycho as a similar staging of the return of the repressed, what specific desires and/or conflicts arise?
3) Both “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “A Rose for Emily” deal with witnesses who narrate the story as an attempt to explain mysterious or even inscrutable events and actions. In both works, the final outcome may raise more questions than it answers. Psycho, too, is constructed as a kind of mystery as it unfolds, with a final explanation at the end. What further questions remain at the conclusion of Psycho, despite the film’s attempt to “wrap up” the mystery? To which of the stories is Psycho more similar in this respect?
4) “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “A Rose for Emily,” and Psycho all feature somewhat peculiar “couples” and couplings. As you watch Psycho, think about the interaction of characters based upon their gender (or the gender traits associated with them). To which of the stories are these interactions more similar in Psycho? Single out specific details for your support.
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