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Richard Hamilton Armstrong
University of Houston System (Houston, TX 77204-0001)
Theory and Theatricality in the Early Work of Sigmund Freud

Research and writing three chapters of a book on the influence of Greek tragedy on psychologist Sigmund Freud’s ideas.

I am completing a book under contract with Oxford UP’s series Classics in Theory that discusses the influence of theatricality on the early psychoanalytic work of Sigmund Freud. The study details the relationship between dramatic performance in Paris and Vienna in the fin de siècle and the scientific milieu in which Freud trained and worked, with particular focus on Freud’s formulation of cathartic therapy and the theory of the Oedipus complex. In detailing the cultural influences and performance practices on the science of the time, this work is both a contribution to classical reception studies (specifically of Sophoclean drama and Aristotelian catharsis) and the Medical Humanities. It combines scholarship on the stage practices of Paris and Vienna with new work on the performativity of hysteria at the Salpêtrière clinic where Freud trained, and outlines in detail the direction Freud’s work took as he veered towards his distinctive form of treatment and psychological theory.

Project fields:
Classics; Comparative Literature; Theater History and Criticism

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 7/31/2020