I was delighted to further my study of Freud’s psychoanalysis although I felt daunted by the prospect. My interest in psychology can be a reminder of my little understanding of biology. I soon realized that Freud’s psychoanalysis belongs to the humanities and that I would not be reliving my nightmares of biology class. I am passionate about well-being. Freud’s work enables me to understand the brain and thought processes of his patients in a literary context. It is easier for me to understand the complex world of thought process through his honest accounts of his own and his patient’s psychoanalysis. Freud rightly deserves to be recognized as one of the most influential modern theorists.
I attended the seminar Freud and the Humanitiesgiven by Hans Walter Schmidt-Hannisa in December. The seminar explored the relevance of Freud’s theories today. Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams remains an instrumental work for the humanities. Professor Shmidt-Hannisa explained the significance of the dream for Freud in his psychoanalysis. It made me reflect on Freud’s influence today in modern psychology due to the now more common option of cognitive behaviour therapy and medicine as a combined combination for treating mental health issues. Is the Freudian slip a trace of a once well-known figure for humanities and whose work is now only treated as an example of revolutionary literature? Can Freud’s analysis be applied to the everyday practical use which he originally intended it for? Foucault understood that Freud’s writing established a new space for literature and represented endless possibilites that were never discussed. Freud’s influence is immense, notably he inspired Lacan and Carl Jung. Our needs change and we require new ways to deal with them however his legacy remains today. His versatile and extensive writing in his nineteen volumes of work embodies his success. 
Freud developed his understanding of the human psyche by analysing dreams. For Freud, the dream was comparable to analysing a text or an artwork, and the dream always remained his main model of analysis. A dream protects the dreamer and hides their true wishes and desires. Freud studied the difference between manifest dream content (what we remember is similar to what we experienced) and the latent dream experience (the symbolic meaning of a dream that lies behind the literal content). Freud understood that the real content of a dream stems from suppressed memories. We reconstruct or cover our original thoughts and memories around the images we see in our dreams. As a result, Freud was able to highlight the crucial role of the unconscious. His in-depth analysis and interpretation of dreams binds his work with the humanities. Freud’s was fascinated with culture. His analysis of dreams signifies a new culture in a different Europe over a century ago. It marks our understanding of culture and we still celebrate Freud’s contribution.  In a Europe that is crumbling under the reconstruction of Freud’s time, I wonder if his work will gain in popularity today and if we can rely on it to quieten our constant anxieties compounded by Trump, Brexit and constant attachment to social media?
Freud worked extensively on dream analysis, in particular “an unconscious thought […] [forcing] its way into consciousness” (Freud 610). Dreams have always intrigued me. I used to be captivated by my accounts or others stories’ of vivid dreams and I even bought a dream catcher. However, it became exhausting and I gave up analysing every detail. The motif of dreaming in literature, movies and songs reminds us of our attachment to the escapism and surrealism that we can find in our dreams and the dreams (metaphorical or not) of others. Freud depended on dreams for his psychoanalysis as he stated “everything that can be an object of our internal perception is virtual” (Freud 611). The unconscious “is the true psychical reality” (Freud 613) where desires, wishes, thoughts and fears unknown to us are stored dormant in the unconscious return to the subconscious. In “The Forgetting of Dreams”, Freud argues that “it is true that we distort dreams in attempting to reproduce them” (Freud 514). As we wake, we immediately forget some dreams but Freud defends his analysis of dreams and proves the use of his analysis as “our procedure is identical with the procedure by which we resolve hysterical symptoms” (Freud 528). As Leonardo Rodriguez writes “the desire that divides the subject, the unconscious desire, is forever unfulfilled and does not cease operating once the subject has woken up. In fact, the subject, awake and alert, continues to dream, the only difference being that, when awake, he calls his dream reality and thinks of his nocturnal dream as pure fiction.” (Rodriguez 397). In “Dreams and Telepathy”, Freud saw that “telepathy has not relation to the essential nature of dreams” although sleep creates favourable conditions for telepathy” (Freud 219). The unconscious wish shapes the latent dream thoughts that have already been prepared during the day and simply revived during dreams at night. (Freud 220). I’m not sure how he felt about mundane routines if Freud feels we are wishing away dreams and time during the day.
Famous examples of dreams in literature and movies remind us of the appeal and mystery surrounding dreams as a source of inspiration. Dream interpretation was popular before Freud’s work. Dorothy’s fantasy adventure in The Wizard of Ozresults in her waking even though she insists it was real. The disappearance of the red slippers, her fever on waking up are signs of a nightmare as her aunt reassures her that she simply had a bad dream. I imagine her dream would have provided enormous analysis and possible entertainment for Freud. Again, I reminded of the Hollywood reinterpretation of dreams. Before The Wizard of Oz, Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” symbolized the influence of dreams, created after waking from a dream of inspiration and like Dorothy’s character, Coledridge also faced disbelief and criticism. Wuthering Heights and Alice in Wonderland also highlight the hope or fear we attach to dreams and over-reliance on dreams. They have an ability to provide endless possibilities and warnings. Alice like Dorothy enters an unsettling world representing a mix of a child’s nightmare and a Dali painting. At the same time, Wuthering Heights eerie moments are as the result of dream-like premonitions and nightmares.
Whether cultural or psychological, Freud’s work on dream analysis reinforces our ability to depend on dreams to find solutions to problems that we would rather forget during the day. We cannot deny that his work is still relevant today and forms the basis of modern psychology. Ironically, we depend on it more than ever as we escape to the comfort of dreams in a world that,more and more seems to resembles a nightmare.
Freud, Sigmund. “The Unconscious and Consciousness -Reality”. The Interpretation of Dreams (second part) and On Dreams, translated by James Strachey and in collaboration with Anna Freud, vol. 5, The Hogarth Press, 1953, pp 610-621.
—. “The Forgetting of Dreams”. The Interpretation of Dreams (second part) and On Dreams, translated by James Strachey and in collaboration with Anna Freud, vol. 5, The Hogarth Press, 1953, pp.512-532.
—. “Dreams and Telepathy”. Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Group Psychology and Other Works ,translated by James Strachey and in collaboration with Anna Freud, vol. 18, The Hogarth Press, 1955, pp. 197-220.
Schmidt-Hannisa, Hans Walter. “Freud and the Humanities”. CASiLaC Research Cluster on European Thought and Global Inspiration, 25 November, CACSSS Mary Ryan Seminar Room, University College Cork, Research Seminar.
Rodriguez, Leondardo. “The Interpretation of Dreams .” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 35.3 (2001): 396–401. EBSCOhost. Web.
“An Introduction to Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams – A Macat Psychology Analysis”. Youtube, uploaded by Macat, 11 April 2016, https://youtu.be/r0Rl9FjsTxc
“There’s No Place Like Home – The Wizard of Oz”. Youtube, uploaded by Movieclips, 26 May 2011, https://youtu.be/BZSb0JCWcXk
 My notes adapted from seminar held by Prof. Schmidt-Hannisa at UCC on 1/12/16
 My notes adapted from seminar held by Prof. Schmidt-Hannisa at UCC on 1/12/16
I recently read The Bell Jar as part of my thesis research. I will use it as one of the texts for my thesis which focuses on female memoirs and fictional accounts of hysteria and madness. I was very surprised that I really enjoyed reading Plath’s only novel. I can’t fully explain why I dreaded the thought of reading The Bell Jar . I already studied Faces in the Waterby Janet Frame which is also a fictional account of mental breakdown but based on the author’s personal experience, like an autobiographical fiction. Janet Frame’s novel was an excellent read, however, her accurate accounts of maltreatment in psychiatric hospitals in New Zealand in the 1940’s are so clearly written from personal experience that they are distressing to read, at times. The female protagonist and narrator of The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood, is more fortunate than Janet Frame’s character, Estina. Esther Greenwood’s experiences are very similar to Plath’s. She is moved to a private psychiatric hospital as a result of the generosity of her benefactress, Philomena Guinea. The safe use of ECT treatment and a holistic environment allows her to return to college and to continue her studies.
Before reading The Bell Jar, I read a lot of Plath’s poetry. She was one of my favourite poets from English class in secondary school and I still remember being totally amazed by the final line of “Finisterre”: “These are our crêpes. Eat them before they blow cold”. Even reviews of The Bell Jar reassured me that I would definitely enjoy Esther Greenwood’s moving and humorous memoir of mental breakdown. Esther Greenwood attempts to commit suicide several times but circumstances and sudden changes of mind will not allow her to achieve this. Her detailed observations of the frailty of life, and its horrors and triumphs engenders a lot of sympathy for her own struggle. We learn of her fear and fascination of Dodo Conway and her six children, Esther’s next door neighbor. Esther envies her routine and stability as she spies on Dodo Conway from the liminal threshold of the window. Esther recognizes the end of her already failing relationship to Buddy Willard. Through her depression, she also explains her irritation towards the patronizing Doctor Gordon. It is the female characters in this novel who save Esther; her mother, her benefactress and her final doctor, Doctor Nolan. She is surrounded by powerful women as she heals. This was crucial for the novel’s publication in 1963 as second-wave feminism began.
Written several months before her death, the bell jar metaphor reminds the reader of Esther and Plath’s feelings of despair and confinement. This suggests a final attempt at understanding her own pain and despair, and an attempt to find a solution. It also represents a final attempt to break out of her entrapment to catch the outside light and outside world which eludes her. Life supports Esther and does not give up on her which seems tragic in this semi-autobiographical account of Plath’s clinical depression. There is some form of continuation and a positive ending so unlike the horrific ending that Plath confronted several months after this novel was published. It almost feels as if this was wishful thinking,yet, when read as a semi-autobiography, the novel stops several years before Plath’s current existence. Her honesty in chronicling the effect of clinical depression and her humor, sardonic at times, are as unique as her esteemed poetry. It’s an alternative ending, a stopping of time that Plath desired but was unable communicate to others. Her life halts suddenly and comes to an end like Esther’s story.
My blog portfolio documents my experience of monthly blogging and thesis research since October. Creating a blog was a requirement for EN6009 Contemporary Research: Skills, Methods and Strategies. At first, I was reluctant as I am not extremely active on social media, however, as the title of the module suggests, contemporary reminded me that I had to quickly adjust to blogging and presenting my research and writing in a modern way. I immediately enjoyed this experience as well as, reading my peers’ blogs. Blogging was a professional platform
“Hi there, thank you for taking the time to check out my blog. I really enjoy sharing and developing my ideas and research as part of my MA in Modernities: British and American Literature and Film. The following is some information about my professional experience and research interests.”
to express research interests and to integrate theories and discussions from class. Some of my thesis ideas changed, yet, as I re-read blog posts it’s encouraging to notice that my main thesis interests remain and continue to develop.
My first blog post was titled“Nostalgia” and it is still one one of my favourite blog-posts. Nostalgia was discussed in class in relation to memory and history, and the theorists Freud, Habermas and Nietzsche. I devoted a lot of time to the reading and research for this post as the idea of nostalgia captivates me. Even in March, I find this topic fascinating and I hope that I can incorporate it into my thesis research. Many disagree with sentiments of nostalgia and feel it’s a modern defence mechanism against the mundane reality of living. As noted in my blog post,
“nostalgia is defined as ‘longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed’ (Boym xiii) and, it occurs cross-culturally and among well-functioning adults” (Sedikides et al. 304).
Nostalgia was a frequent topic amongst the modernist and post-modernist theorists as I wrote,
“Evidently, the idea of longing stood out in the Habermas, Jameson and Lyotard readings for class”.
Longing creates a desire to return to the past and happier memories. I used the example of Ireland’s success in the world cup in the Nineties.
I also used a quote by Lyotard where he warns that longing, memory and “these sentiments do not constitute the real sublime sentiment” (148). Memory distorts the past and the reality of what actually takes place.
Jamesonlaments “as though, for some reason, we’re unable to focus our own present, as though we have become incapable of achieving aesthetic representations of our own current experience” (170).
I truly understood the benefit of blogging when I was able to give personal or cultural examples. It was exciting to refer to programs such as Deutschland 83, The Goldbergs and eighties music in the same paragraph as Jameson and Lyotard. I was able to understand the purpose of using my own interests with reading from class to further discuss and explore topics. It was easier to understand these theories. I realize why I was interested in Freud and his work, The Interpretation of Dreams when I wrote in the final paragraph:
“Nostalgia may refer to “lost potential” (Boym, 21) and forgotten dreams. We choose how to interpret nostalgia and its messages. We can be agents of nostalgia.” Nostalgia and memory can distort the past significantly.
Yet, there is fear of being stagnant and rooted in the past, “a pitiful monument to your own grief” (Boym, xv). We wish to hold onto old memories for comfort. There is such a surge today to be present in the moment. We are fearful of stigmatization for unnecessary yearning. Nostalgia is “essentially history without guilt” (Boym, xiii).
For the October blog post, I was excited to blog about cinema, one of my main interests in“The Cork Film Festival”. I felt more comfortable with writing in a less academic format without over-relying on secondary reading. It was an opportunity to reflect on the role of art and culture in Cork city and the importance of festivals like the Cork Film Festival. They allow cinema-goers to experience different types of films. I spent time researching cinema terms such as art-house film and independent film. I discussed these genres with friends and thought about our discussions when writing,
“Independent and art-house movies target social realism. Documentary films encounter humanity’s inevitable struggles. No film experts are required.”
Most people enjoy attending the cinema as it provides escape. Besides certain film festivals, there are not many opportunities to view different film genres that appeal to our human sides and this was one of the main arguments in this post. For the movieThe Road: A Story of Life and Deathwhich was screened by the Film society, I could easily relate to the sincere and realistic accounts of immigration.A Maid for Eachdocuments the realities of life for a servant of wealth families in Beirut, Lebanon, something that is still taboo subject in Lebanese society. The setting forZazy ,a German film, is stunning and it proved the potential of low-budget movies. I truly enjoyed the Q&A afterwards as the directors and producers explained that an Italian village provided a stunning but in-expensive set. This was an important blog post for me as it allowed me to blog about the value I find in art-house and independent film. The topic was not as academic as the first post and it reminded me of the freedom I had.
“As an observer, I was able to judge the benefit and relevance of these types of film genres. All types of people attended the screenings. All desired a different experience at the cinema. Independent and art-house movies target social realism. Documentary films encounter humanity’s inevitable struggles. No film experts are required. All can fully understand and easily reflect on the subject matter. We have all experienced the excitement and tragedy of life. I wonder why independent movies are not continuously shown alongside mainstream movies in one centre?”
Under the same category of art and film, I also wrote“Gertrude Stein: What Are Masterpieces and Why Are There so Few of Them” inNovember. Monthly blog posts were around eight hundred words in length and to make up the word count from the Cork Film Festival post, I wrote this short post to explore my interest in creativity. Her work reminds me of conceptual and abstract art. Her essay really made me think of the idea of a masterpiece in literature, art and film. I still find it astonishing that this essay was written in 1940. The relationship between masterpiece and author has always intrigued me.
“In terms of classics, I wonder, can an author truly think through every word to benefit close readings? If a work is worthy of masterpiece status, it simply occurs. Yet, I also feel a bit foolish speculating whether such authors would really care.”
I also explored how Stein questions the benefits and disadvantages of the author writing for an audience and assuming an identity as an author. By the end of November, we had read works by authors such as Eliot, Woolf, Pound and I was feeling overwhelmed by the thought of answering an essay questions based on their masterpiece. I felt reassured by Stein’s essay and I felt that this type of essay could be applied to today’s critique of literature, art or film especially when we are bombarded with instant news of success. Authenticity and belief in one’s originality is key to the real creative process. Visuals in my blogs were so important to me and one of my favourite images from all my blogs is the following which I included in the final paragraph.
It really conveys the core of Stein’s argument in this essay and it was important for me to convey the visual side of this abstract literary figure. I appreciated the freedom with blog format and being able to divide her theory into “Required” and “Not necessary” to highlight the differences.
-lack of awareness
I enjoyed writing the December post,“Snowflakes Always Have Six Sides”. I tried to avoid being a cliché of defending my generation that are known, by some, as snowflakes. Snowflakes are described as lacking the resilience of our parent’s generation and I didn’t want to lament the use of this term and get involved in a conversation that seems to ignore the struggle or the a rite of passage for every twenty to thirty year old generation. For example, baby-boomers is the title given to my predecessors. A lot of my ideas for blog-posts originated from topics that interested me the most that month, for a positive or negative reason. It was an easier to ruminate about a cultural topic and I was even subconsciously thinking about it. Snowflake was a popular term in the news and with the election of Trump in November, I was feeling sorry for everyone’s future and the uncertainty that lies before my peers and I. I titled this blog post and “Nostalgia” under the category Social and Cultural as I felt these topics applied to our society and culture. It was another exciting move away from an academically motivated blog post.
“Based on my research, I see, there is enough material online from my fellow snowflakes and millennials (between 18-33) outlining their frustration and anger with the use of this pejorative term. Others have already carried out this task for me. Ironically, I will be defined as a snowflake if I express my anger and outline my arguments against this term.”
“I understand as part of this generation, we are very different. Well I am trying to understand but I cannot really comment on the life of someone who is from the baby boomer generation (52-70 years old) when I did not experience that era. I believe what works in theory or thought may be a failure in practice or reality. I face different challenges and probably have certain benefits that my parents didn’t, yet, the classic story of success vs. failure seems all the more similar as it did fifty years ago.”
I tried to understand the origins of this term that could be linked to the enormous changes in Ireland and the changes in societal expectations for younger age group. It was a personal post for me to as I discussed this topic with a lot of friends. I spent a lot of time deciding the layout and the title, in particular. I really wanted the title to reflect the purpose of this post; not to represent the meaning behind a snowflake but to explore the origins of this term and the generation gap or changes in Ireland that seems all the more obvious in recent times. I interviewed a sixty year old and posted the written response to my questions and transcribed a twenty year old’s interview. This was a new experience to play with the form of my blog. The questions were similar but, I feel, they symbolize my blog’s content and theme. The evidence of these interviews are included in the blog and I hope, the responses aptly represent the ludicrous idea of believing in such terms. The answers convey personal sentiments and different points of view rather than one opinion forcing others to agree and only believe in one point of view.
Point of view from 60 year old (Written response).
“What challenges do you think a millennial faces today? Dearth of leadership, socially, economically, politically scarred ecology all the gift/curse of previous generation. Dubious role models (from the perspective of a 64 year old). Real fear that the age of global feudalism powered by transnational corporates is well underway, indentured to your mortgage, you work, the national interest etc. Spiritual vacuum, domain of the transcendental colonised by vapid quacks where even things which should be the sacrosanct sanctuary of the soul are invaded by the cult of atheistic materialism. Isolation accelerated by Social Media, blurring of virtual and real world.”
As mentioned, a lot of my ideas for blog posts were significant for me and were included in the blog posts as thesis research, literature discussed in class and non-academic topics. I used the following blog post to develop my thesis research.
I continue to refer to this blog post “Freud and Dreams” and it is still pinned to my home page. In January, I really began to think about my thesis research and direction. Writing this post was really beneficial. It inspired me to discuss the influence of Freud and his theories on surrealism for theTextualities Mini-Conference. I also wrote about the seminar I attended,Freud and the Humanitiesby Professor Schmidt Hannisa for two paragraphs. I used my notes from this seminar and Professor Schmidt Hannisa’s arguments also really helped me in my preparation for the Kecha Pucha presentation.
“The seminar explored the relevance of Freud’s theories today. Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams remains an instrumental work for the humanities. Professor Shmidt-Hannisa explained the significance of the dream for Freud in his psychoanalysis. It made me reflect on Freud’s influence today in modern psychology due to the now more common option of cognitive behaviour therapy and medicine as a combined combination for treating mental health issues.”
“Foucault understood that Freud’s writing established a new space for literature and represented endless possibilites that were never discussed. Freud’s influence is immense, notably he inspired Lacan and Carl Jung. Our needs change and we require new ways to deal with them however his legacy remains today. His versatile and extensive writing in his nineteen volumes of work embodies his success.”
I feel my experience of this seminar is easier to understand in a blog post than a research seminar blog post. When I attended this seminar, I was already concentrating on certain topics and I felt my discussion of this seminar and the development of ideas really supported my arguments in this post. I was relatively new to Freud’s work on The Interpretation of Dreams in January and some of the main ideas from this blog post influenced my research
“Freud developed his understanding of the human psyche by analysing dreams. For Freud, the dream was comparable to analysing a text or an artwork, and the dream always remained his main model of analysis.”
Freud’s therapy developed out of analysing dreams and his role as a cultural icon.
“The unconscious ‘is the true psychical reality’ (Freud 613) where desires, wishes, thoughts and fears unknown to us are stored dormant in the unconscious return to the subconscious.”
I also discussed the role of the unconscious and conscious in dreams and the image reminds of the significance of the unconscious mind and its importance in Freud’s work.
“The unconscious wish shapes the latent dream thoughts that have already been prepared during the day and simply revived during dreams at night. (Freud 220). I’m not sure how he felt about mundane routines if Freud feels we are wishing away dreams and time during the day.”
Blogging about the work of the unconscious mind developed my thesis ideas. I also explored the role of literature and art in dream representation. Unbeknown to me, I was forming the basis of my working thesis statement. I wish to link a literary text or image with my research. I discussed literature like Wuthering Heights representing dreams and visions and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in my blog post. These were ideas and thoughts that really made sense to me at the time.
In February, the“Wikipedia Edit-a-thon”took place and I wrote about this new experience of editing. I continued with my research topic of Freud and Dreams. I decided to edit and add to a wikipedia pageOn Dreams. It was another opportunity to further my research on Freud and his analysis of dreams in The Interpretation of Dreams. I also mentioned referred to Anthony Storr’s research Freud: A Very Short Introduction which helped me enormously. I am grateful that I noted all the sources I used as I have returned to them for further research.
“I could not have edited this section without Anthony Storr’s detailed research. wikipedia-editing-pic-2 I realized the importance of using reliable resources in my editing and the validity of Wikipedia’s information. I had to cited every page, quote as well as title, author and publisher.”
“Next, I moved on to the On Dreams section which intrigued me the most. I hope to write about Freud and dreams for my thesis and working on the editing of this page reaffirmed my interest in this topic. Freud’s work The Interpretation of Dreams II and On Dreams were crucial for my editing of the On Dreams section. The editor’s note to Freud’s On Dreams was influential and it helped me greatly when adding: Immediately after its publication, Freud considered On Dreams as a shortened version of The Interpretation of Dreams (footnote 11, Wikipedia).”
I was already focusing on the research that interested me the most by using the second volume of the The Interpretation of Dreams. It was also an excellent exercise in editing information and focusing on clarity and precision when writing.
“When editing this section, I carefully read through the facts that were already present. I was then clear about the information that I wanted to edit and develop. This required preparation and research.”
I am pleased that I documented my positive experience of live tweeting. The wikipedia edit-a-thon was my first experience of live-tweeting and I found it very thrilling to get retweets and support from the Freud Museum London.
“I was delighted to learn that the Freud Museum in London liked my tweets and this was another positive experience from the online community.”
For my March blog post, I wrote about the link between“English and Art”. I am spending a lot of time reflecting on the relationship between art and literature as part of my thesis research. I aim to link Freud’s theories with a literary text and I have been inspired by surrealist artwork and the movement’s link with Freud. I reflected on the enormous focus on art in our classes to help understand literary theory. It is undeniable that Art and English, like a lot of the humanity subjects, overlap with subject content.
“We were asked to suggest one artwork to support our readings for our Theories of Modernity module. It is easier to understand literary theory if a painting or artwork can be used as an example of this theory. I chose Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe prints to represent the consumerism depicted in the essay “Postmodernism and Consumer Society” by Fredric Jameson. Warhol’s reprints of an image in his own factory mock the sixties desire to consume and spend extortionate amounts.”
Linking literary theory and an artwork has really helped me understand the theory. As I love art, it was easy to write about the benefits of supporting literary theory with art. The layout and visual images were also very important for this blog post. I spent a lot of time choosing the layout for these images and I hope, their representation in the blog post, conveys the image of seeing them side by side in art gallery. The final aims image to highlight the link between literature and art.
In March, I updated the research seminar“Thought or Cognition”by N. Katherine Hales which I attended in October. I have attended three seminars in total this past semester. I was delighted to see the link with this seminar and my current progression with my thesis research. The content and title of the seminar caught my attention and I enjoyed attending an alternative seminar to the literary seminars. I even found a link to the Freud essay “The Uncanny” which we studied in class.
“Hayles referred to non-conscious cognition in technical devices which can recognize and analyse patterns and interpret ambiguous information. This is the same non-conscious cognition that operates in humans and biological plants. I was also reminded of Freud’s essay on “The Uncanny” where he describes “the uncanny feeling[s] is created when there is intellectual uncertainty whether an object is alive or not, when an inanimate object becomes much too like an animate one” (Freud 233). He was referring to dolls and automatons but now, robots encapsulate this non-conscious cognition in technical devices.”
I also attended the seminar,“Hidden Coercion in Beckett’s Theatre”, presented by Professor David Pattie. Waiting for Godot was one of my favourite studied texts from the past few months and Professor Pattie’s analysis of the hidden space beyond the stage was truly fascinating. The day before we had studied American Splendour in the American Modernities: from Modernism to Postmodernity module and I was able to compare Professor Pattie’s notes to the white space used to depict the space between the film, the set and the story in American Splendour. Professor David Pattie spoke about Vladimir’s relationship with this space and his role in creating the space for the audience as speaks to an imaginary figure beyond the stage.
“The voice that Vladimir speaks to symbolizes the eternal pressures the characters and everyone must confront. In his prose, Vladimir speaks honestly and openly, and chooses words that represent his internal voice. The internal voice symbolizes the speaker, the character’s identity and internal thoughts. The prose spoken by the characters comes alive in theatre and when characters finish speaking, as narrator, they are unsure where the story ends. Does the ending continue in another space?”
In conclusion, I believe I have really developed my IT skills in terms of social media and online blogging. I have enjoyed writing about my journey in the M.A. Reflecting on the experience, I have grown in confidence when exploring different formats and styles of blogging. I hope to continue this journey and exploration in the future and to make the most of this free platform for creativity and expression.
Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams Vol., IV & V, translated by James Strachey and in collaboration with Anna Freud, vol. 5, The Hogarth Press, 1953.
Tobin, Carmel. “”Gertrude Stein: What Are Masterpieces and Why Are There so Few of Them”, modernandmodernityblog, 29 November2016, https://modernandmodernityblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/gertude-stein-what-are-masterpieces-and-why-are-there-so-few-of-them-1940/. Accessed 29 March 2017.
Tobin, Carmel. “Snowflakes Always Have Six Sides”, modernandmodernityblog, 22 December 2016, https://modernandmodernityblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/22/snowflakes-always-have-six-sides/. Accessed 29 March 2017.
Tobin, Carmel. “Freud and Dreams”, modernandmodernityblog, 31 January 2017, https://modernandmodernityblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/freud-and-dreams/. Accessed 29 March 2017.
Tobin, Carmel. “Wikipedia Edit-a-thon 08/02/17”, modernandmodernityblog, 8 February 2017, https://modernandmodernityblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/wikipedia-editathon-080217/. Accessed 29 March 2017.
Tobin, Carmel. “Seminar Review: “Thought or Cognition? What’s the Difference and Why Is It Important?”, modernandmodernityblog, 19 March 2017, https://modernandmodernityblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/seminar-review-thought-or-cognition-whats-the-difference-and-why-is-it-important/. Accessed 29 March 2017.
Tobin, Carmel. “Hidden Coercion in Beckett’s Theatre”, modernandmodernityblog, 24 March 2017
“The Road: A Story of Life and Death – Official Trailer”. Youtube, uploaded by Docuphile, 24 January 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s9OSJKSFIM&feature=youtu.be
My thesis will focus on Freud’s research of dreams in The Interpretation of Dreams. I will endeavour to respond to Freud’s analysis of dreams and the significance of the unconscious and conscious mind in dream work. I will use Freud’s two volumes of work, The Interpretation of Dreams, Volume IV and Volume V. I will base my research on Freud’s evidence of dream interpretation in these volumes.I will study Freud’s other volumes of work including The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Other Writings, Group Psychology and Other Works, and, the essays, “The Uncanny” and “Dreams and Telepathy”, to gain further knowledge of the relationship between dreams and the unconscious mind. I wish to compare Freud’s other theories of the unconscious mind with the theories he presents in The Interpretation of Dreams.
I expect the argument that dreams reveal our unconscious thoughts and true desires to remain a core aspect of my thesis. In The Interpretation of Dreams Volume V, I will respond to chapter 7 (c)”Wish-Fulfilment”, (e) “The Primary and Secondary Processes-Repression”, and (f) “The Unconscious and Consciousness-Reality” as they examine the view that dreams reveal our unconscious thoughts and desires. To contextualize this view, I will also focus on chapter one (a)”The Material of Dreams-Memory in Dream”, (g) “Theories of Dreaming and Its Function”, (h) “The Relations Between Dreams and Mental Diseases”, and chapter three “A Dream is the Fulfilment of a Wish” in The Interpretation of Dreams Volume IV. I will also read The Ego and the Id and research the chapter, “Presuppositions : Consciousness and Unconscious”, in relation to this aspect of my research.
Freud’s work includes real accounts of his research. He refers to his clients’ descriptions of their dreams and his understanding of these dreams in The Interpretation of Dreams. I will analyse these accounts as they present direct proof of his research and interpretation of dreams. I would also like to focus on the validity of Freud’s research in The Interpretation of Dreams and how it affects Freud’s role as an English scholar and his impact on psychoanalytical literature. I will argue his role as a cultural figure and his creation of a culture of reflection and analysis. I will examine the trustworthiness of his texts as they are written from a personal and biased perspective. His accounts of dream interpretation will act as primary sources to counter this argument. I will continue to study the biographies written about Freud to further my research. Some that have already proved helpful consist of The Penguin Freud Reader introduced by Adam Philips, Freud: A Very Short Introduction by Anthony Storr, Dr Freud: a life by Paul Ferris, Freud by Jonathan Lear and Sigmund Freud by Michael Jacobs. They provide a background and context to this cultural figure whereas Freud’s commentary and analysis depicts his opinion of his research.
As mentioned, I aim to analyse the validity and relevance of Freud’s theory of dreams as a fulfilment of unconscious desires. I wish to focus on the ethical approach of his psychotherapy and analysis of dreams. He analyses dreams that have happened in the past, yet, he never experiences these dreams. I will support my analysis of this aspect of his dream commentary using secondary reading from Jstor: The Navel of the Dream: Freud, Derrida and Lacan on the Gap where “Something Happens” by David Sigler, Aggression in dreams—intersecting theories: Freud, modern psychoanalysis, threat simulation theory by Barbara D’Amato, Dream interpretation in theory: Drawing on the contributions of Freud, Jung, and the Kleinians by Joan Schön, Real Dreams by Elissa Marder and The Philosophical Aspect of Freud’s Theory of Dream Interpretation by Wildon Carr.
The relationship of women’s writing with Freud’s theories intrigues me. He greatly influenced literary theory in the twentieth century including women’s literary theory and women’s writing which responds to his work. I wish to further research works by Julia Kristeva, a female psychoanalyst whose view of the subject is similar to Freud’s. I will read The Kristeva Reader edited by Toril Moi. I will focus on the chapters: 1) “The System and the Speaking Subject”, 9) “The True-Real” 10) “Freud and Love: Treatment and Its Discontents” and 13) “Psychoanalysis and the Polis”. For secondary reading, the texts Julia Kristeva: Live Theory by John Lechte, Kristeva Reframed by Estelle Barrett, Psychoanalysis and Gender: An Introductory Reader by Rosalind Minsky, The Gendered Unconscious : Can Gender Discourses Subvert Psychoanalysis? by Louise Gyler,will benefit this aspect of my reading. I hope to also read works by the female psychoanalyst Nancy Chodorow including Feminism and Psychoanalytical Theory. I will undoubtedly link this research with The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex,The Ego and The Id, On Sexuality and The Interpretation of Dreams by Freud.
I wish to structure my thesis in three chapters. One section will focus on Freud and his role as a cultural figure and the validity of his research including the role of ethics in the The Interpretation of Dreams. Another section will analyse his theory of dreams as a fulfilment of a wish and our unconscious desires. Finally, a third section will analyse Freud’s theories in relation to women’s writing and female psychoanalysis reaction in the 1970’s. I also aspire to link Freud’s theory with a literary text. I hope to read Reading Dreams: The Interpretation of Dreams from Chaucer to Shakespeare edited by Peter Brown to research examples of dreams in literature and to learn about the influence of dreams in literature. I am interested in the figure of Blanche DuBois and the suppression of desire in A Streetcar Named Desire. From the Textualities conference, I was very much inspired and grateful for the suggestions to look at examples of dreaming in works by the author Pat Barker. Her work Regeneration, Another World, The Ghost Library are available in the Boole library. The theme of sleeplessness in Gothic literature was also suggested and I may study Jane Eyre, Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights for examples of dreams and sleeplessness in literature. I am also interested in the theme of dreaming and narrative and I will research The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho to explore examples of this.
The texts mentioned are available in the Boole library and the articles are accessibly on the JStor and EBSCO databases. The website for the Freud Museum London provides online archives and research about Freud and his role as a cultural figure. I have also researched the Freud Museum in Vienna, where I have contacts, and it has an accessible library and archives.
I attended this seminar at the end of March. Professor David Pattie’s seminar ‘At me too someone is looking …’; Hidden Coercion in Beckett’s Theatre focused on the hidden systems and mechanisms of coercion. I had noted this seminar in my diary for a while as I really enjoyed reading Endgame and Waiting for Godot as part of the Literary and Cultural Modernisms module. I also love the 2001 version of Waiting for Godot and I feel, it conveys the hidden and the in-between space that Professor Pattie discussed in his seminar. Professor Pattie began by exploring the ethical response to hidden coercion and analysing examples in Waiting for Godot. He focused on the scenes where Vladimir speaks to an invisible character who appears to be near the stage. Beckett constructs a fictional figure beyond the text and beyond the playing area. In many versions, Vladimir’s close relationship with this figure represents internal coercion. I was reminded of experimentation with space in American Splendor which we studied in the American Modernities: from Modernism to Postmodernity module. The voice that Vladimir speaks to symbolizes the eternal pressures the characters and everyone must confront. In his prose, Vladimir speaks honestly and openly, and chooses words that represent his internal voice. The internal voice symbolizes the speaker, the character’s identity and internal thoughts. The prose spoken by the characters comes alive in theatre and when characters finish speaking, as narrator, they are unsure where the story ends. Does the ending continue in another space? Internal coercion torments the story-teller as the unfinished story dissolves into the play.
Professor Pattie explained that the nature of coercion is different in Beckett’s plays. The theatrical protagonist operates using many systems of coercion. Beckett’s theatre evokes mechanisms of coercion that can be expressed by the character on stage. Deleuze’s concept of immanence whether it is pure or negative immanence can be destroyed in moments of engagement in Beckett’s theatre. However, the space that exists beyond the play proves these mechanisms exist beyond the text and they cannot disappear when the play ends. Professor Pattie spoke about the characters’ offstage world, this space beyond the play, from where they are forced back to the stage and from where Vladimir spoke to the invisible figure. We never learn whether this space and the coercive system collapse at the end of a play. These figures create the narrative for the audience as the stage acts as a coercive force pushing characters into either acts of immanence. Their role ends when the narrative finishes. Light, direction and sound remain even though we don’t hear or see them as the grey space beyond the play exists in the confines of the stage. Beckett’s use of coercion moves the audience away from the drama and the actor’s presence. As a result, the audience focuses on the words, the space between the words, the narrative and prose spoken by the actors. Through this constraint the characters gain freedom to truly interact with the prose.
In October, I attended a live screening of the above seminar by Professor N. Katherine Hayles from the Pompidou Centre. This seminar was an alternative to other literary seminars and an opportunity to explore my research interests.
Hayles began by discussing human relationships to other life forms and the role of contemporary neuroscience in the humanities. She explored the relationship between thinking and cognition. It is necessary to uncouple thinking and cognition, consciousness and cognition to achieve unconsciousness cognition. Thought is an idea or opinion created from thinking whereas cognition defines the mental act of obtaining knowledge through thought, experience and senses. Hayles used the following definition from cognitive biology: “Cognition is a process that interprets information in contexts that connect it with meaning”. This affects how we interpret information and Hayles believes that plants and roots can think and communicate in their own way. She referred to The Secret Life of Plantsto support her point that there is meaning from life for organisms. Interpreting information signifies choice and choice cannot exist without cognition. However, Hayles clarifies that thinking does not constitute the whole of cognition. There is choice on many levels for all organisms.
Hayles explains that even animals can recognize symbols of consciousness. Of course, as humans, we can experience higher-level consciousness and cognition and the ability to reflect on our attitudes and behaviours. Consciousness can create a distorted view about what happens, for example, we may over-react to an argument and only see it from our point of view. However, unconscious cognition also influences our behaviour and consciousness cannot access this type of cognition. Hayles referred to non-conscious cognition in technical devices which can recognize and analyse patterns and interpret ambiguous information. This is the same non-conscious cognition that operates in humans and biological plants. I was also reminded of Freud’s essay on “The Uncanny” where he describes “the uncanny feeling[s] is created when there is intellectual uncertainty whether an object is alive or not, when an inanimate object becomes much too like an animate one” (Freud 233). He was referring to dolls and automatons but now, robots encapsulate the meaning of non-conscious cognition in technical devices.
Hayles argues that humans are a complex system but are in command of this system and humans are stills ethical responsibility for technical devices. Certainly, technical systems affect human behaviour consciously, unconsciously or non-consciously but meaning is still central to animals, plants and technical systems. Mean-making is no longer a human activity and Hayles feels we need to rely on the research and analysis of the humanities to understand its impact.
Hayles, N. Katherine. “Thought or Cognition? What’s the Difference and Why Is It Important?”, The Digital Studies Seminar,
Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny”. Imago, Bd. V., 1919.
I used a surrealist painting by Dalí in my presentation for the Textualities mini-conference. I chose the painting Ship with Butterfly Sails as it aptly conveys the unreal world we enter when we dream. Surrealism and surrealist artworks were influenced by Freud’s theories, and they depict the creativity of a person’s subconscious. Conscious vs. unconscious is an enormous part of Freud’s work. I also used Henry Fuseli’s painting The Nightmare when I spoke about nightmares as a fulfillment of a wish. It conveys the true horror and fear of a nightmare. Certainly, there is an enormous connection between artworks and English literature, and obviously many subjects in the humanities. Since September, art movements have helped simplify literary theory and explain modernism and postmodernism in a visual way which really helped. Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire was used for the course booklet cover and we discussed this painting as a symbol of change for the industrial revolution.
We were asked to suggest one artwork to support our readings for our Theories of Modernity module. It is easier to understand literary theory if a painting or artwork can be used as an example of this theory. I chose Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe prints to represent the consumerism depicted in the essay “Postmodernism and Consumer Society” by Fredric Jameson. Warhol’s reprints of an image in his own factory mock the sixties desire to consume and spend extortionate amounts. It is evident that “everyday themes from politics to gossip were adopted” (Walther 624) as the sense of being in a particular era found its concrete expression (Osterwold 6). I have always been interested in art and painting. I enjoy visiting art museums and I was delighted that twentieth century paintings were used as part of class discussion. Duchamp’s Fountain symbolizes the changing role of art and its position in a museum in the early 1900’s. It reflects the change in English literature at the time which is evident in abstract works by Mina Loy and Gertrude Stein. Futurist art-works by Marinetti were introduced in our class about Ezra Pound. Recently Lichtenstein and Pollack were analyzed as part of a recap on postmodernism to highlight the purpose of a work as self-referential which is evident in the short story “Lost in the Funhouse” by John Barth. Sometimes artwork can convey these theories quicker than a text. Some of the Spiegelman and Harvey Pekar cartoons remind me of Lichtenstein’s pop art.
Obviously twentieth and twentieth first century art can be very subjective and it does not appeal to everyone. It is essential for me to visit an art museum when I visit a city or new place. I would chose an art museum over a history museum. I have queued for a long-time as well but it’s reassuring that so many view art as a symbol or evidence of a city or a country’s history and culture. It saddens me that museums have become places of murder and fear, for example a diplomat was assassinated in a gallery in Ankara and recently, a machete-wielding man produced horror in the Louvre in Paris. These horrific acts remind me of the buildings and temples, cultural heritage and artworks, that have been destroyed by ISIL in Syria, Iraq and Libya. It’s a strong and sad reminder to truly appreciate art and life and to savour every detail of what we see before us.
The mini-conference took place last Friday, 10th March. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss research interests and thesis ideas, and to receive feedback as well. Of course, it was daunting initially but the experience of speaking at a conference event, even a mini-conference, was extremely worthwhile.
Speaking in front of my peers and professors seemed terrifying, especially in the weeks before the mini-conference. Fortunately, we were prepared in advance with the help of Dr. Donna Alexander and Dr. Anne Etienne in presentation style, content and delivery. Pecha kucha presentation is in the style of a”chit-chat” and a story. My content needed to captivate the audience and represent the research process. I presented on Freud and his analysis of dreams in The Interpretation of Dreams and I was aware, in my preparation, to focus on his theories in an engaging and relevant manner.
We were advised to focus on the spoken content first and to use images as visual aids and supports in our presentation. I used cultural representations of Freud’s theories to support my content. The 20 seconds per slide reminded me of the importance of editing work and conveying clear information. With more practice, I felt more confident and really enjoyed working on my research topic. It was a good deadline to further my research and I was reminded why I was drawn to Freud’s theories of dreams and dream interpretation.
I soon discovered that constant practice definitely improved my confidence. I felt slightly out of my comfort zone on Friday 10th. I was forced to remind myself of previous presentations and how I felt apprehensive about them initially but how they went well. I have experience of speaking in front of large groups, and as a teacher I am used to speaking in front of others. However speaking in front of my peers and professors was much more daunting. All the practice really benefited and I had two opportunities to practice in the Council room. I learnt a lot from Dr. Anne Etienne’s reminders about posture, breathing, pace and tone.
The diversity of presentations was astounding and the vast topics discussed were remarkable. Some of the presentation titles: John Hurston as a star, Carl Churchill’s plays, Flannery O’ Connor’s works, modern Irish protest literature, the image of the mother in Ulysses and the representation of the double in Black Swan highlight the immense variety. All speakers spoke excellently and, I not only enjoyed the presentations, but learnt a lot. My reading list has trebled. There was a very high standard and I was so grateful for the positive feedback and suggestions from classmates and professors. I mentioned in the Q&A that I would like to read Freud’s other volumes of work and that I was uncertain whether I would focus on solely his theories in-depth or support them with literary texts. Colleagues and professors suggested some really interesting ideas such as exploring the ethics of the interpretation of dreams or using novels by Pat Barker and researching the theme of sleeplessness in Gothic literature. This meant a lot and I felt reassured and inspired by the suggestions.
I will definitely add this mini-conference to my list of “public speaking events that went really well” when I’m faced with my next public speaking task and feel the initial dread. The positive feedback and support was really wonderful.