Attachment Theory and Literature

Course Number: ENGL 236
Prerequisites: Graduate Standing
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 236
Quarter: Fall 2018
Instructor: Young, Kay
Day(s): W
Time: 12:30pm - 3:00pm
Location: SH 2714
Description:

Attachment. Separation. Loss. These are the primary social experiences that define life—and literature. If literature gives verbal form to our feelings, no behaviors engender stronger feelings than those that accompany attachment, separation, and loss. We’ll read the groundbreaking research of John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, and Harry Harlow that first defined the field of attachment theory, followed by the work of infant researchers Daniel N. Stern, Colwyn Trefarthen, Beatrice Beebe, and Frank Lachman. We’ll turn to special topic off-shoots of attachment theory: “transformational object seeking” (Christopher Bollas); “earned secure attachment” (Alan Stroufe); “place attachment” (Altman and Low and others); attachment in the digital era (Linda Cundy, Sherry Turkle). As we read theory, so will we read literature—Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Emily Dickinson’s poetry, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse or Elena’s Ferrante’s novel The Days of Abandonment. If time permits, we’ll view the films of J Robertson: A Two-Year-Old Goes to Hospital (1952) and by R.A. Spitz: Grief: A Peril in Infancy (1947)—documentaries that helped change the National Health Care’s hospital visitation policy in the UK. Each seminar participant will choose a work of literature of any genre to study, present, and write on in terms of attachment theory.