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Freud's Moses : memory material and immaterial

Author: Eliza Farro Slavet
Publisher: 2007.
Dissertation: Ph. D. University of California, San Diego 2007
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : eBook   Computer File : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Freud's final book, Moses and Monotheism, has long been regarded as an autobiographical curiosity which, while shedding light on his feelings about his own Jewishness, potentially compromises some of the more convincing aspects of psychoanalytic theory. I consider Moses and Monotheism as a serious work in which Freud proposes a theory of Jewishness--what it is, how it is transmitted, and how it continues to survive.  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Academic theses
Named Person: Sigmund Freud; Moses, (Biblical leader); Moses, (Biblical leader)
Material Type: Document, Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Eliza Farro Slavet
OCLC Number: 138419203
Notes: Title from first page of PDF file (viewed April 19, 2007).
Available via ProQuest Digital Dissertations.
Vita.
Description: 1 online resource (xvi, 325 pages) : PDF file
Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Responsibility: by Eliza Farro Slavet.
More information:

Abstract:

Freud's final book, Moses and Monotheism, has long been regarded as an autobiographical curiosity which, while shedding light on his feelings about his own Jewishness, potentially compromises some of the more convincing aspects of psychoanalytic theory. I consider Moses and Monotheism as a serious work in which Freud proposes a theory of Jewishness--what it is, how it is transmitted, and how it continues to survive. Rather than being an aberration, this work is the culmination of a lifetime of work investigating the relationships between memory and its rivals: history, heredity and fantasy. Throughout his career, Freud attempted to synthesize what he saw as the two possible sources of mental illness: the first, innate disposition, and the second, external trauma resulting in pathogenic memories. The tension between these two realms--permanent inheritance and malleable experience--would become central to his theory of Jewishness. By proposing that certain events in the distant past were so traumatic that their memories were inherited by successive generations, Freud eventually integrated these previously mutually exclusive realms--the biological, permanent and racial on the one hand, and the psychic, experiential and cultural on the other. In Moses and Monotheism he theorized that Jewishness is constituted by the inheritance of a specific archaic memory which one is inexorably compelled to transmit to future generations, whether consciously or unconsciously. As such, I consider Freud's theory of Jewishness as a racial theory of memory. Freud's interest in the inheritance of memory is contextualized alongside scientific and political debates of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A close reading of Freud's Moses shows that it retrospectively illuminates recurring questions and concepts in his earlier work and in current debates about race, memory, and psychoanalysis. I combine literary scholarship with research in the history of science in an attempt to understand what Freud thought he was doing in developing a racial theory of Jewishness at a time when race was being used to identify and exterminate the Jewish people. This study examines the permeable boundaries between history and literature, race and culture, and politics and science.

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