The Literary Unconscious: Psychoanalytic Literary Theory - HKU SPACE: English courses
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Languages English

The Literary Unconscious: Psychoanalytic Literary Theory

Course Code
Application Code
Study mode
Start Date
To be advised
24 hours
Course Fee
About the teacher
Dr Anita Chi-Kwan Lee has an interdisciplinary background in both her work and studies, which cover several disciplines that range from English language and literature, literary and cultural theory, film and visual arts media, gender and sexuality to both qualitative and quantitative research. Her PhD thesis was an intertextual and psychoanalytic analysis on the works of Virginia Woolf. Anita very much enjoys crossing over disciplines, teaching across curricula, and collaborating with faculty both within and outside campus.

While Anita has taught gender and queer theory courses at both HKU and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, she has also taught various English literature courses since 2006 at HKU’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE), and media appreciation courses at both the Hong Kong Baptist University and the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Being both an academic researcher and media industry practitioner, her professional experience in the media was previously gained in service with the Radio Television Hong Kong, Television Broadcasts Limited, and Edko Films Ltd., in their different departments of production, programme, and film advertising and promotion.

Sigmund Freud argues that the sexual instinct and civilization are irreconcilable and society must repress the sexual, even at the cost of producing neurotics.  By exploring literary and film texts, this course aims to examine the application of psychoanalytic theory in the representation of sexuality in culture.  Intensive reading is mandatory and expected of students who will be guided through the discussion of the writings of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and other theorists who have contributed to the legacy of psychoanalysis as a tool for the reading of culture.

One of the three giants of the School of Suspicion, Sigmund Freud is the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical treatment of psychotherapy by employing a dialogue between the patient and the psychoanalyst. Freud redefined sexuality and formulated the Oedipus Complex as the core tenet of psychoanalytic theory. One of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century, Freud’s theories helped shape our ideas of childhood, personality, memory, and sexuality, and his legacy has contributed to a great number of works from thinkers both in support and opposition to Freud’s ideas.

Course Schedule

1. Freud’s Theory of the Human Psyche

  • “The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex”;
  • “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (excerpts);
  • “Instincts and Their Vicissitudes”;
  • “The Interpretation of Dreams” (excerpts);
  • “On Dreams”;
  • “The Dream and the Primal Scene”

2. Repression in Modern Civilization

  • “Civilization and its Discontents”;
  • “Repression”;
  • “The Unconscious”;
  • “Mourning and Melancholia”;
  • Judith Butler, “Melancholy Gender/Refused Identification”
  • Stephen Daldry, The Hours (《此時 · 此刻》, 2002)

3. Freud’s Theory of Love and Sexuality I

  • “On the Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love”;
  • “Fetishism”;
  • “On Narcissism: An Introduction”;
  • “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” (excerpts)

4. Freud’s Theory of Love and Sexuality II

  • “The Psychogenesis of a Case of Homosexuality in a Woman”;
  • “Female Sexuality”;
  • “Femininity”;
  • “Medusa’s Head”;
  • Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa”

5. State Violence vs Sexuality: Michel Foucault’s Theory of Sexuality

  • “Panopticism”, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison;
  • “Introduction”, Herculine Barbin: The Story of a Nineteenth-Century Hermaphrodite;
  • History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: Will to Know (selections) 
  • Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange (《發條橙》, 1971)

6. Transgression and Eroticism: Georges Bataille, Michel Foucault and Pedro Almodóvar

  • Story of the Eye (excerpts);
  • “Introduction” and “Transgression”, Erotism;
  • “Madame Edwarda”;
  • Foucault, “A Preface to Transgression”;
  • Pedro Almodóvar, Matador (1986)

7. Jacques Lacan’s Study of Desire and Return to Freud

  • “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I”;
  • “Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis”;
  • “The Signification of the Phallus”;
  • “God and Woman’s Jouissance” (excerpts).

8. Feminist Criticism and Queer Theory

  • Luce Irigaray, “This Sex Which Is Not One” and “Psychoanalytic Theory: Another Look”, This Sex Which Is Not One;
  • Teresa de Lauretis, “Freud, Sexuality, and Perversion”; 
  • Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (selections);
  • Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”;
  • Monique Wittig, “The Straight Mind”

Course Dates

April 18, 25; May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; June 6  2020

Application Code 1780-1955NW -
Start Date 18 Apr 2020 (Sat)
Time 2:30 - 5:30 pm

  • 8 meeting(s)
  • 3 hours per meeting
  • Hong Kong side (To be confirmed)
  • Dr Anita CK Lee, BSocSc HKBU; MA, PhD HKU
  • Applicants are required to have reached the age of 18
  • Applicants are expected to have a good reading knowledge of English in order to enjoy the course.
  • Bachelor degree graduates or at least final year senior students
  • English proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.5
Course Fee
  • Course Fee : HK$4,800

Application Form Download Application Form

Enrolment Method
Online Application

We provide online application and payment service for students to make enrolment via the Internet. Enrolment will be confirmed once students have made the payment online by using either PPS or credit card.

By Post / In Person

Applicants are required to complete the Application for Enrolment Form SF26.  Either take or post the completed form, along with the appropriate course fee and supporting documents, to any of the HKU SPACE enrolment centres.

Payment Method
1. Cash or EPS

Course fees can be paid by cash or EPS at any HKU SPACE enrolment counters.

2. Cheque or bank draft

Course fees can also be paid by crossed cheque or bank draft made payable to “HKU SPACE”. Please specify the programme title(s) for application and applicant’s name. You may either:

  • bring the completed form(s), together with the appropriate course fees in the form of a cheque, and supporting documents to any of the HKU SPACE enrolment centres;
  • or mail the above documents to any of the HKU SPACE enrolment centres, specifying “Course Application” on the envelope. HKU SPACE will not be responsible for any loss of payment sent by mail.
3. VISA/MasterCard

Applicants may also pay the course fee by VISA or MasterCard, including the “HKU SPACE MasterCard”, at any HKU SPACE enrolment centres. Holders of the HKU SPACE MasterCard can enjoy a 10-month interest-free instalment period for courses with a tuition fee worth a minimum of HK$2,000; however, the course applicant must also be the cardholder himself/herself. For enquiries, please contact our staff at any enrolment centres.

4. Online payment

The course fees of all open admission courses (course enrolled on first come, first served basis) and selected award-bearing programmes can be settled by using PPS via the Internet. Applicants may also pay the relevant course fees by VISA or MasterCard online. Please refer to the Online Services page on the School website.

  1. For general and short courses, applicants may be required to pay the course fee in cash or by EPS, Visa or MasterCard if the course is to start shortly.
  2. Fees paid are not refundable except under very exceptional circumstances (e.g. course cancellation due to insufficient enrolment), subject to the School’s discretion. In exceptional cases where a refund is approved, fees paid by cash, EPS, cheque or PPS (for online payment only) will normally be reimbursed by a cheque, and fees paid by credit card will normally be reimbursed to the payment cardholder’s credit card account.
  3. In addition to the published fees, there may be additional costs associated with individual programmes. Please refer to the relevant course brochures or direct any enquiries to the relevant programme team for details.
  4. Fees and places on courses cannot be transferred from one applicant to another. Once accepted onto a course, the student may not change to another course without approval from HKU SPACE. A processing fee of HK$120 will be levied on approved transfers.
  5. Receipts will be issued for fees paid but HKU SPACE will not be responsible for any loss of receipt sent by mail.
  6. For additional copies of receipts, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a completed form and a crossed cheque for HK$30 per copy made payable to ‘HKU SPACE’. Such copies will only normally be issued at the end of a course.
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