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The Literary Unconscious: Psychoanalytic Literary Theory

Course Code
Study mode
Start Date
To be advised
24 hours
Course Fee
How to Apply

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”
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.

  • 8 meeting(s)
  • 3 hours per meeting
  • 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$4,950

Application Form Download Application Form

Enrolment Method
Payment Method
1. Cash, EPS, WeChat Pay Or Alipay

Course fees can be paid by cash, EPS, WeChat Pay or Alipay at any HKU SPACE Enrolment Centres.

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 the applicant’s name.. You may either:

  • bring the completed form(s), together with the appropriate course or application fees in the form of a cheque, and any required 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

Online application / enrolment is offered for most open admission courses (course enrolled on first come, first served basis) and selected award-bearing programmes. Application fees and course fees of these programmes/courses can be settled by using "PPS by Internet" (not available via mobile phones), VISA or Mastercard. In addition to the aforesaid online payment channels, continuing students of award-bearing programmes, if their programmes offer online service, may also pay their course fees by Online WeChat Pay, Online Alipay and Faster Payment System (FPS). Please refer to Enrolment Methods - Online Enrolment  for details.


  • If the programme/course is starting within five working days, application by post is not recommended to avoid any delays. Applicants are advised to enrol in person at HKU SPACE Enrolement Centres and avoid making cheque payment under this circustance.
  • 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, WeChat Pay, Alipay, 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.
  • 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.
  • Fees and places on courses cannot be transferrable 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 each approved transfer.
  • Receipts will be issued for fees paid but HKU SPACE will not be repsonsible for any loss of receipt sent by mail.
  • For payment certification, please submit a completed form, a sufficiently stamped and self-addressed envelope, and a crossed cheque for HK$30 per copy made payable to "HKU SPACE" to any of our enrolment centres. 
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