Archaeologies of the Mind: James Joyce’s Ulysses and Pre-Freudian Psychology of the Unconscious

  • Annalisa Federici Università degli Studi Roma Tre
Keywords: James Joyce, Ulysses, Psychology, Unconscious, Memory


This essay analyses the representation of mental processes in James Joyce’s Ulysses in light of ‘scientific’ or ‘experimental’ psychology, whose impact on the composition of the novel has been quite underestimated. Since concepts such as ‘unconscious cerebration’ and ‘mental latency’, or the theorisation of a close connection between dreams and repression, regularly appeared in nineteenth-century psychological treatises along with discussions of insanity and deranged states of consciousness, these ideas are likely to have made inroads into the cultural milieu in which Ulysses was composed. By analysing the stratified representation of the characters’ minds, this essay attempts to read the novel through a focus on pre-Freudian conceptions of unconscious mental processes and latent memory, and to show that some of the ideas propounded by early psychologists may have provided the substance for Joyce’s understanding of the functioning of consciousness, the unconscious and memory portrayed in Ulysses.


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Author Biography

Annalisa Federici, Università degli Studi Roma Tre

Annalisa Federici holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Perugia. Her main research areas are literary modernism, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, formal aspects in fiction, and the relationship between writing and psychological processes. She is the author of the books Il linguaggio e la realtà. La narrativa modernista di Virginia Woolf e James Joyce (2011) and “In a Kind of Retrospective Arrangement”: Essays on James Joyce and Memory (2016), as well as of a number of critical essays on Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Ford Madox Ford, Nathalie Sarraute, Michel Butor. She is currently working on Joyce, little magazines, expatriate autobiography and celebrity culture in interwar Paris.


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How to Cite
Federici, A. (2021). Archaeologies of the Mind: James Joyce’s Ulysses and Pre-Freudian Psychology of the Unconscious. Between, 11(21), 164-189.