Male Hysteria

English Department, University of Zurich, Spring Semester 2010 ///

According to psychoanalysis, hysterical neurosis is not gender specific. Nonetheless, hysteria was and still is often considered a ‚women’s disease‘. In contrast to this stereotype, the history of literature is peopled with male hysterics. Cowards trying to overcome their insecurities, hypochondriacs looking for a radical cure in adventurous endeavors and violent neurotics harassing their fellow men – such are the protagonists of texts as diverse as William Shakespeare’s ‚Richard III‘, Robert L.  Stevenson’s ‚The Treasure Island‘ or Patricia Highsmith’s ‚The Talented Mr. Ripley‘. By putting such classics in dialogue with key texts on (male) hysteria by Sigmund Freud, Juan David Nasio and Lucien Israel, we will explore how theory can provide a fresh reading of the literary canon. In addition, we will consider often overlooked primary texts such as E. M. Forster’s ‚Maurice‘ or Owen Wister’s Wild West novel ‚The Virginian‘, and explore how they add new aspects to the – yet unwritten – history of male hysteria. Finally, we will also take a look at two of the most sublime male hysterics in cinema: Martin Scorsese’s Jesus Christ and Tim Burton’s Batman.

Gemeinsames Seminar mit Dr. Alexander Markin.


25. 2. Introduction

4. 3.   Theory session I: Freud’s Re-invention of Hysteria (AM)

11. 3. Theory session II: Lacanian Theory on Hysteria (JB)

Hysteric Doubles 

  18. 3. E. M. Forster: «Maurice» (AM)

25. 3. Patricia Highsmith: «The Talented Mr. Ripley» (JB)

  1. 4.  Tim Burton: «Batman Returns» (AM)

Hysteric Homes

15. 4. William Beckford: «Vathek» (AM)

  22. 4. James Baldwin: «Giovanni’s Room» (AM)

29. 4. Tennessee Williams: «Baby Doll» (JB)

Hysteric Adventures

  6. 5. Robert L. Stevenson: «The Treasure Island» (AM)

20. 5. Owen Wister: «The Virginian» (JB)

Hysteric Violence

  27. 5. William Shakespeare: «Richard III» (JB)

3. 6. Martin Scorsese: «The Last Temptation of Christ» & «Mean Streets» (JB)

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