Fall 2009

Psychoanalysis and Law

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-12


Adam Sitze (Section 01)


This course will provide an introduction to psychoanalysis as a comprehensive theory of law.  Although psychoanalysis has not traditionally been considered an integral part of the discipline of legal theory, its insights into the origin and structure of law are at once intriguing and troubling, and its response to the basic question of jurisprudence--"what is law?"--permits us to refer with clarity and precision to an experience of law about which we would otherwise have to remain silent.  Freud teaches that law is an institution that at once emerges from and recoils upon our most quotidian and intimate experiences--love and aggression, sublimation and art, language and fantasy, perversion and wit, jealousy and forgetfulness, conscience and paranoia, desire and transgression, gender and sexuality, anxiety and infancy--and he gives us a set of interpretive terms and techniques that help us grasp this teaching.  Our inquiry into the psychoanalytic study of the law will be divided into two parts.  After studying the account of law offered by Freudian psychoanalysis, we will explore the way that various scholars have both applied and critiqued psychoanalytic concepts in their understanding of law.  In addition to reading Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Antigone, Freud's Totem and Taboo and Civilization and Its Discontents, and Lacan's Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, we will also read works by such thinkers as Jerome Frank, David Garland, Pierre Legendre, Drucilla Cornell, Patricia Williams and Judith Butler.

Limited to 40 students.  Fall semester. Professor Sitze.

If Overenrolled: Priority will be based on the source and foundation of student's interest in the course.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2017