COURSE TITLE: Between Science and Fiction: Psychology and Literature
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Dr Christopher Peet, Dr Tina Trigg, Dr Henry Schuurman
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3 (hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Human being, whether explored through themes of identity, self, or character, is a constantly evolving narrative we construct of ourselves and others. This course examines the intersection of psychological and literary narratives as they construct human being, and emphasizes how storytelling is a vital yet undervalued notion in contemporary society. We will question how human identity is created and communicated, while exploring the fringes of socially accepted behaviour to examine how norms are established, upheld, and challenged both in literature and psychology.

Prerequisites: ENGL 214 and one of PSYC 250 or 251

Same as ENGL 327.

The intersection of psychology and literature creates a liminal space that destabilizes the constructedness of human experience, highlighting philosophical questions such as: what is reality? what is fiction? what is truth? what is normalcy? And for all of these questions, who decides? writers, readers, objective scientific assessment, culture, experts, time? Further, and more significantly, what are the implications of these hidden dynamics? Where does the Christian reader fit into this model? How do we inhabit the role of writer / theorist / analyst – whether literary, philosophical or psychological? How aware are we of our shifting roles and identities?

In this particular configuration, the course will seek to unravel these issues in relation to the theme of identity or selfhood. We will combine lecture, small and large group work (including minor in-class assignments), two major papers, and a final exam. Details of assignments will be provided as the term proceeds. Major assignments for this course will be screened through Turn-it-in via the class Moodle site. Your attendance and participation are integral to the course. In the event of absence it is your responsibility to be caught up on missed material; any changes to the attached schedule will be announced in advance and posted to Moodle. The coursepack readings will be posted to Moodle along with dates; material needs to be completed and ready for discussion by the dates given.
  • Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky (Penguin Classics edition)
  • Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
  • City of Glass, Paul Auster (first book only of The New York Trilogy)
  • Various readings as coursepack (all available on Moodle): philosophical, literary, and psychological articles, book chapters, and summative excerpts
Essays (8-10 pages) (2) 50%
Group Work/In-class Assignments 15%
Final exam 35%
COURSE OUTLINE: REALITY: The “Self” and its Fictions
  • Introduction & course outline
  • Surrealism: Un Chien Andalou (1928; 2004) in-class film 17 mins.
  • Magical Realism: Julio Cortasar "Continuity of Parks" (Moodle)
  • Discussion groups
  • Martha Nussbaum, “Love’s Knowledge” (Moodle)
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Alias Grace
  • City of Glass
  • Reality, Rationality, Disintegration, Trauma, Transformation and Selfhood: summative discussion

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Maintained By Glenn J Keeler, Registrar