Psychology and Literature ~ Spring 2013

Franklin High School

Dr. Carolyn Fortuna

fortunac@franklin.k12.ma.us (e-mail)

This course will invite students to connect psychology to literature as they refine the fundamental skills of close reading, research, critical writing, and critical analysis that they developed in their first semester, senior year English class.  Through the opportunity to explore character motivation and behavior, students will come to understand new ways to see themselves and the collective human experience.

In other words, this course will offer a psychological lens through which we will view our primary object of study: literature. We will receive an introduction to various formal, historical, and cultural approaches to literary texts, all of which will use some form of psychology. We will apply primary source material from major psychological theorists to works of literature. 

Using psychological profiles as lenses through which we can filter information and ideas, we will read literature across multiple genres and modalities to explore such topics as sexuality, family dynamics, suicide, conformity, power struggle, and mental illness.  Topics of discussion include symbolism, the purpose of storytelling, application of psychological theories and concepts, different literary genres, accuracy in the depiction of psychological variables and mental health professionals, how writing and reading reflect cognitive processes, and the therapeutic value of literature.

Education Goals

        Recognize how an understanding of psychology can enhance our appreciation of literature

        Learn to construct arguments that integrate psychological principles with literary analysis

        Appreciate how collaboration with class colleagues can challenge and deepen one’s understanding of literary texts

Overarching Content

Perspectives in Contemporary Psychology:








Theories and Theorists:


        Neo-Freudians (Adler, Horney, Jung)






Understanding Human Personality

Psychological DisordersTexts:  Include but are not limited to:


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


Ordinary People

Self-select readings

Short stories, such as…

 “The Yellow Wallpaper,”

“The Turning of the Screw”


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Ordinary People

Girl Interrupted

Good Will Hunting

Dead Poet's Society

Genie: The Wild Child

School Supplies

You need to be independent with supplies in the classroom.  Dr. Carolyn receives very few supplies from FHS.  You should have the following supplies with you at all times.

2-3 pens

Notebook with a dedicated English class section

Folder for English class homework

2 highlighters

Colored pencils

Student rights, responsibilities, policies, and procedures

Please note that all FHS Student Handbook rights, responsibilities, policies, and procedures apply to Dr. Carolyn’s English classes.

Assignments:  Timeliness, MLA Style, Type/ Pen, and Originality

Unless otherwise stated, all assignments are due at the beginning of class. For example, you should print an assignment prior to class. All assignments should meet MLA style requirements. 

Please note:  Dr. Carolyn cannot see pencil, so she can’t offer you input if you write in pencil. If you write in pencil, your assignment will be returned to you.

Please cite all sources within your writing and in a bibliography at the end of the text you’re composing.  If you do not cite another author’s work within your composition, you will not receive credit for your assignment.  It is the English Department policy at FHS to hold students accountable for originality at all times.  Thus, per FHS 2012-2013 requirements, each major assignment must be uploaded to It's Learning.  


Personal Response Journals

Scholarly article evaluation, analysis, criticism, and response

Independent reading analysis

Position papers

In - class activities

Class Discussions

Group Research/Presentations

Case Studies/Role Play/ Scripts




One day assignments:  5 points

Extended day/ process assignments:  10 points

Quizzes:  20- 25 points

Compositions and Projects:  50 - 100 points (depending on complexity)

Presentations to the class:  20- 100 points (depending on time requirements)


I’m really looking forward to learning alongside you during this school semester.  Please know that I want you to come see me if you have any personal, academic, or extracurricular difficulties that might interfere with your success as a learner in this English class.  Good, honest, and open communication is always the best way to establish and maintain a positive relationship.  Keep in touch!  


Dr. Carolyn


Dear Parents,

Some of the material in this course, Psychology and Literature, contains content that is of mature subject matter. I recognize that students have varying levels of maturity and sensitivity.  I also appreciate that you, as a parent, may feel that some selections of material in this course are not acceptable for your child.  For this reason, I request that you be a voice of approval for the texts, both written and visual, your child will be experiencing.  Your child may read or view an alternate text if you so desire it.


Thank you for being an important part of your child's education. Please contact me via email if you have any questions.




Dr. Carolyn Fortuna



Please sign and return the bottom portion of this form.


I have read the overview of the senior year English course, Psychology and Literature. 


  I give my child, ________________________________________, permission to read/view the proposed materials for the Psychology and Literature course, including his/her choice of independent reading text.


  I would prefer that my child, _______________________________, have an alternative reading/viewing in place of:  ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Carolyn F,
Jan 24, 2013, 8:25 AM
Carolyn F,
Jan 24, 2013, 8:25 AM
Carolyn F,
Jan 23, 2013, 7:31 AM