English 391W: Dreams

Reading Freud: Some Advice

February 4, 2010 · No Comments

We’re reading key passages from Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams–chosen because they are the sections that are most memorable and capture what’s influential about his theory of dreams. Here’s some advice to help you make sense of it all:

1. Read the section entitled “Freud’s Argument,” from Ritchie Robertson’s introduction to the Oxford World’s Classics edition (pp. xi – xvi). Pay particular attention to his discussion of the four elements of Freud’s “dream-work” on page xiv.

2. Enjoy the stories Freud tells about dreams; pay attention to his style of writing; think about what kind of narrator he is.

3. Read with a pencil, pen, highlighter, or set of post-its in hand. Mark anything that seems interesting or strange or confusing; mark any terms that seem important or that are new to you.

4. Pay careful attention to Freud’s argument about “wish-fulfillment” and ask yourself if his evidence for this argument is convincing.

5. Finally, pay careful attention to his discussions of “the dream-work”: 1. condensation, 2. displacement, 3. representational resources, and 4. secondary revision. Do your best to figure out what he means by each of these terms.

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