I wish to thank David Wagenknecht and Emily Rohrbach for their help with this article.
Detection as Method: Reconstructing the Past in Godwin and Freud†
Article first published online: 21 DEC 2005
Volume 2, Issue 1, page **, January 2005
How to Cite
Rzepka, C. J. (2005), Detection as Method: Reconstructing the Past in Godwin and Freud. Literature Compass, 2: **. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-4113.2005.00182.x
- Issue published online: 21 DEC 2005
- Article first published online: 21 DEC 2005
- Literature Compass 2 (2005)RO 182,1 -12
Psychoanalysis emerged as a distinct science toward the end of a century that witnessed important developments in two fields using investigative methods closely resembling its own: the historical sciences – especially the new sciences of antiquity and prehistory such as archeology, geology, and paleontology – and detective fiction. Psychoanalysts, historians, and detectives employ similar methods of induction and inference in their attempts to reconstruct causal sequences of past events and weave them into a coherent narrative form. However, the new science of mind differed from the emerging sciences of prehistory and the new genre of fictional forensics in its swift adoption of a transparent “literary” model of interpretation largely untroubled by the challenges to theorization posed by new material data, as opposed to linguistic or symbolic evidence. Two figures in particular can help us trace these interlocking developments in psychoanalysis, the historical sciences, and literary detection: Sigmund Freud and William Godwin. The former drew on the fields of archeology and detection to illustrate the methodology of his new science of mind, while the latter not only concerned himself with the practice and theory of history, but also, according to many scholars of the genre, all but invented modern detective fiction and the psychological thriller.