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Supertext and the mind-culture system: Freud, Lévi-Strauss and Bateson

Gillard, Garry (1993) Supertext and the mind-culture system: Freud, Lévi-Strauss and Bateson. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The aim of this project is to investigate the potential of a psychoanalytic approach to Cultural Studies, and in particular to suggest the continuing value of the Freudian project for present-day cultural analysis of contemporary societies and texts.

The dissertation investigates the methods and concepts Sigmund Freud himself developed for the study of aspects of culture. It focuses especially on the later Freud's theories of mental topology and his ventures into kinds of cultural analysis. It critically analyses and develops his notions of the superego as the determinant of kinds of cultural text, identifying this as the set of supertexts which have the same function (narrative, ideological) for a social group as projections of the superego have for individuals.

The project then looks at two other major thinkers who have contributed to an analysis of culture, whose debts to and departures from Freud are known but not systematically studied: Levi-Strauss and Bateson. A model of mind in context, a mind-culture 'system', or 'system MC,' is developed from a confluent reading of all three.

Critiques mounted of all three thinkers in the body of the argument constitute a demonstration of a methodology of reading, of a psychoanalytic mode of textual analysis. The procedure is simultaneously an analysis of the development of psychoanalytic theory and a critical demonstration of its utility. The thesis concludes with an outline of a methodology for cultural analysis that draws on both psychoanalytic and anthropological traditions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Supervisor(s): Hodge, Bob
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