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Name: Iain Spillman

PhD: English Literature

Thesis Title: 'The Flashing and Fading of Consciousness in Perception': The Fictional Freud in Literature and Theory


Thesis Description:

Despite considerable analysis on the literary qualities of Freud’s writing (e.g. Mahony 1987, Hofman 1991, Hillman 1983), there has been little sustained study of Freud’s fictional representation. This thesis will address this critical deficiency and examine the emergence and significance of Sigmund Freud as a fictional character. The growing prevalence of the literary representation of Freud throughout the 20th and 21st centuries suggests that ideas about Freud’s character as well as his psychoanalytic methods continue to shadow Western culture. Areas of research are to include: the clinical, theoretical and narrative similarities between Freud’s and Sherlock Holmes’ case studies as well as their shared lineage and their reintegration by Nicholas Meyer’s Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1974); an analysis of Freud’s construction of a new mythology and psychoanalytic folklore with Freud at its core and later augmented by texts such as D. M. Thomas’ The White Hotel (1981); the employment of a fictional Freud linking him with the Cathy Caruth’s concept of history as ‘the history of trauma,’ examples of which can be found in Goce Smilevski’s Freud’s Sister (2011) and The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler (2016). This thesis will also evaluate texts that both feature Freud as one of the dramatis personae and also utilize the narrative structures identified in both his theories and his writing. For example, Selden Edwards’ The Little Book (2008) can be read both as an assessment of the validity of Freud’s work and as an application of Freud’s narrative techniques. Consideration will also be given to the use of the fictional Freud in novels that attempt to invalidate his work by discrediting his character instead of engaging directly with his theories. Examples of this strategy can be found in Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman’s Freud’s Mistress: A Novel (2013) and Rebecca Coffey’s Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story – a Novel (2014). This thesis will examine the various cultural memories and fictional representations of Freud that emerged from his development of psychoanalysis and how both Freud’s articulation of its development and society’s response to Freud and psychoanalysis fashioned these depictions.


Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Sarah Jackson - Nottingham Trent University, Professor Philip Leonard - Nottingham Trent University


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