Professor John Higgins, Fellow of the University of Cape Town

Placing Marx and Freud against each other reveals unexpected dimensions in their thinking. In different though strangely related ways, each is interested in bringing to light what we prefer to obscure. After an introduction that focuses on the question of reading Marx and Freud today, this course then discusses Marx’s intellectual and political beginnings as the editor of the New Rhenish Gazette, and the ways in which his struggles with censorship opened up his concerns with the ‘fake news’ of his time. The fourth lecture shows how these concerns return in his masterpiece Capital. Lecture three looks at how one of Freud’s earliest writings, ‘Screen Memories’, sets the scene for his subsequent interest in and analysis of the slipperiness of memory. The final lecture explores how this slipperiness plays out in the famous (and controversial) case history, Notes on a Case of Obsessional Neurosis or the ‘Rat Man’.



1. Reading Marx and Freud today

2. Marx: intellectual and political beginnings

3. Freud: ‘Screen Memories’

4. Marx: Comments on censorship

5. Freud: Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis


Recommended reading

Freud, S. ‘Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis’ in  Pelican Freud Library Volume 9/ In J. Strachey et al. (Trans.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume X. London: Hogarth Press.Standard edition of the Complete Psychological Works of SF Vol 10

Freud, S. ‘Studies on Hysteria’. Freud, S. and Breuer, J Studies on hysteria, Pelican Freud Library Vol 3 and S.E. Vol 2.

Freud, S. ‘Screen Memories’. in S.E. vol 3. Freud, Sigmund, (1899)   SE 3, 301-32

Higgins, J. 2014. ‘Rethinking Marx Rethinking the Public’, Acta Academica, 46:1, pp. 55-72.

Marx, K. ‘The secret of primitive accumulation’ in Capital: A Critique of Political Economy.

Marx, K. ‘Comments on the Latest Prussian Censorship Instruction’ in Marx, Karl & Engels, Frederick. Marx & Engels Collected Works Vol 01: Marx:1835-1843. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1975.  Also available at:



Date: 13–17 January
Time: 5.00 pm
COURSE FEES: Full R590 Staff & Students R295
Venue: Classroom 2A Kramer Law Building UCT