Fall 2022 - HUM 321W B100

The Humanities and Critical Thinking (4)

Class Number: 6252

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    HCC 2205, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



A study of the counter-traditions within western civilization. Compares and contrasts diverse traditions within western culture that critique its central value systems. It will focus on the attempts of great artists and thinkers to break with tradition, and the subsequent creation of new ideas and forms of experience and expression. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Mussolini's March on Rome, 1922
Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922, one year after the publication of Sigmund Freud's Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.

What makes people participate actively and passionately in their own oppression? What makes them susceptible to conspiratorial claims that, for example, the 2020 US election was “stolen,” that climate change is nothing more than an elaborate “hoax,” or that the Covid-19 Pandemic is part of a “great reset” orchestrated by an all-powerful, shadowy, global elite? What is the nature of the psychological damage that colonialism inflicts on the colonized? How can historical traumas such as, for example, the cultural genocide caused by Indian Residential Schools be meaningfully addressed and “worked through”?

These are among the various questions that we will pose in a course that addresses the relationship between politics and psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is an account of human psychology­­––whose roots go back to Plato and the tragic poets such as Sophocles and Aeschylus before him––that posits the potentially explosive role of irrational, unconscious forces in limiting, if not subverting, the public life of reason.

The course examines some of the key classical and contemporary psychoanalytical texts as a way of understanding the historical emergence of fascism in the aftermath of the First World War (1914-1918) as well as the forms of colonial and post-colonial forms of domination to which fascism was (and remains) integrally linked. It employs selected contemporary films such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970), Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down (1993) and Shane Meadows’s This is England (2006), as “case studies.” It also features prominent local and international psychoanalysts as guest lecturers to share their rich theoretical and clinical insights and experiences.


  • Participation 20%
  • Presentation (7-10 min) 20%
  • Dossier (lecture and reading notes) 20%
  • Term Paper (2500 words) 40%


This course counts towards a concentration in Public Engagement and Intellectual Culture for students in a Humanities major or minor program.



Freud, Civilization and its Discontents: 978-1985757387

Edward Said, Freud and the Non-European: 978-1781681459

Mitchell and Black, Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought: 978-0465014057

Other shorter readings are either available on-line or will be provided.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html