People have had theories about the human mind for centuries. But what is the relationship of those theories to the discipline we today call “Psychology”? What were the historical circumstances that led to its formation as a field of study and, ultimately, an academic discipline? And what were the dynamics by which psychology developed once it was established in university departments? In this class we will cover these and related questions by focusing on three topics:
- We will identify specific traditions of thinking about the mind in Western thought since the 17th century;
- We will cover some important debates about the aims, subject matter and foundations of psychology as a science (specifically in the 19th and 20th centuries);
- We will trace the histories of specific contemporary discussions and fields of inquiry in the 20th century, such as social psychology, clinical psychology, and the psychology of race and gender.
The goal of this class is to convey to students the rich history of ideas and practices pertaining to today’s psychology by (a) introducing them to important figures that have shaped this multi-faceted field, and (b) situating these figures in their historical contexts. Students will come away from this class with an appreciation of the controversies that have characterized much of psychology’s history, as well as insights into what makes the subject matter of psychology particularly controversial.
Textbook: Raymond Fancher & Alexandra Rutherford (2012), Pioneers in the History of Psychology. A History. New York/London: W. W. Norton & Company Inc. (Fourth Edition)
Other material (especially primary sources) will be made available on CTools by the instructor.
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HISTORY 230 is a lecture class, but there will be time for discussion during lecture.