Sunday, December 12, 2010

Freud Lives

In a previous post, I recounted the sad tale of opposition to a course I had proposed on Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. I predicted eventual success despite this opposition, but that it would require many hours of tedious and contentious committee meetings. This turned out to be the case.

After wending its way through the program faculty, the advisory board, the curriculum subcommittee, the college council, and finally the university policy committee, I am pleased to announce that there is now a course on Freud at my institution. By a single vote, my colleagues decided that perhaps there was still some reason to teach Freud – despite assertions that his theories have been discredited, that his ideas may harm vulnerable students, and that lawsuits against the university would be imminent. It was a sad, frustrating and time consuming series of debates, but at least it is over now.

The process has taken its toll on my enthusiasm, and left yet another bad taste in my mouth concerning campus politics. However, I will strive to enjoy the new course. There are a surprising number of students who seem to be very excited about the class already. I find this charming and I imagine their enthusiasm will soon rekindle my own.

Warhol's Freud


  1. Wonderful news! I can't wait to read how the class goes.

  2. Fantastic news. Keep us updated and I hope that the bitter taste of campus politics leaves you soon.

  3. I agree. It was worth the fight! Besides, it makes it seem like teaching Freud is dangerous. Which is sort of cool.

  4. Thank you all for your kind words. As for the perceived danger and cool of teaching Freud -- that was exactly my reaction too. It still seems so odd and unlikely though. In fact, at one of the meetings after I sat listening to a long riff on the dangers of teaching Freud to college students, my response was simply to say that sadly the course was much less exciting than they made it sound and that really all we did was read a very long, dense, 19th century book that tended to be a little dry. I'm happy to embrace Freud as a new "international man of mystery," though, even if I don't quite see it myself.

  5. Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in...

    One small addendum to this story. After finishing with the regular lengthy slate of committee meetings and votes to gain approval for a new course, this particular course was singled out for additional discussion and review by the Provost who has to approve all faculty actions on our campus.

    The story still has a happy ending, the Provost agreed the course should be taught, and the meeting wasn't even as contentious as I feared. So starting this Spring, I'll be teaching Freud and students will be earning a bit a general education credit even as they become generally educated. Excellent!