Theories of the Mind


Feedback from students December 2001


Students were asked to write on a blank sheet of paper how they thought the course was going and to suggest any improvements. My comments and answers are in blue.


Two things to begin with. One is, thank you for these kind and very positive and encouraging responses. And very helpful. The other is, reading lists. Actually reading lists were available, but obviously I didn't get this across, so I've gathered them together, and added new material, and put up a page that links to all of them: it's here.


This has easily been one of the most inspiring courses at Uni; in fact it's what I was hoping for after someone recommended it to me, who'd been taught by you some years ago.

I think the informality of the seminars allows them to approach my romanticized expectations of Uni-like-minded people hot-headedly debating through the meaning of life love etc.

I feel that through this course I've really been challenged - or maybe not challenged - I've been shown other ways of thinking which has probably made more of an impression on my understanding of myself than on literature. So I think I need to practice applying the theories more. Perhaps one useful addition to the course would have been pointers to good psychoanalytic readings of texts.

they're here

One of the things I have massed at Birmingham in general, (and I know that this was never intended to be part of the teaching set up) is a tutorial system. I think so much can be gained from the one on one, just because there's no escape. You can't hang your head and hope someone else will answer, and I find that that really stretched you and forces you to think. If anything like that could be built into the course structure, I think it would probably be improved in no other way! But, I guess that's completely impossible time wise.

I'm in my room for two hours every Monday afternoon from two pm, usually with no-one to talk to, apart from my computer; I'm really happy to talk about anything to anyone who comes along...

Sorry this is rambling on a bit but I just want to say thank you and how much I'm looking forward (incomprehensible or not!) to next term.


I have found the course really interesting so far. The first year lectures on Freud first interested me in the topics covered by the seminar course. It has therefore enabled me to explore basic ideas in much further detail. I particularly enjoyed Jung as it was interesting to see how he developed Freud's ideas and how his theories progressed. Some of the material and ideas have been tricky to understand, but it just wouldn't be enjoyable if it was easy! The use of the internet made the seminar course more informative - additional information on the web and the chat forum are definitely a good idea. I think the course has been well structured and it has been easy to contribute in seminars.


All in all, the course seems to me to be going fine. Having resources up on the web is a definite advantage (probably more useful than the course books in truth) and meeting up in small study groups has proved useful also - we've had a couple of productive meetings. Nothing springs to mind as needing to change, really.


V interesting. V Brain taxing but V worth the effort!

Enjoyed doing the presentations and enjoyed the discussions that they provoked.

Website is v useful and always accessible. I especially like the discussion forum, it's good to hear different people's opinions.

Although some topics are difficult and controversial, you are always willing to listen, explain and take on board new ideas (where absolutely necessary!)

The seminars are lively and interesting and wake me up at 10.00 in the morning, but this only works when the rest of the group are interested and excited about the topic - which fortunately ours has been.

I also enjoyed the idea of meeting in small groups once a week. Our group got bigger as we recruited more members (!) but we had some good discussions (as well as some laughs along the way). The ideas we cover are difficult to comprehend and sometimes make you walk around looking at life in a completely different way, but you have made these theories accessible to us - and I don't know whether to thank you not!!!


I find this course incredibly interesting but extremely difficult. I think the work required each week is satisfactory and useful because it gets you thinking about the topic.

I worry that I have only skimmed the surface of this course and do not feel confident about doing an analysis on my own.

I think the discussion on key words of Jung and Freud was particularly useful because it forced me to learn! Perhaps more sessions like this would be useful.

I also think that it would be useful to be set a formative essay to give us an idea of whether we are on the right lines or not - 5000 words at the end of the course is incredibly daunting.

I can't formally set a formative essay, these are only part of the Core seminar setup. But if any of you want to write something, of any length, I'd be happy to read and discuss it. Also note that the presentations are designed to be preparatory to the assessed essay, and to let you know if you are on the right lines or not, because you will get feedback for those.

I knew when I opted for this course that it would be a challenge and it has proved slightly more taxing than that! However, I am pleased that I chose it.

I will be spending my Christmas vacation studying the topic to try to understand it!!!


This is my favourite course, I have really enjoyed all of it so far especially as it is quite challenging.

I think it might be made easier if there was more contact but then who wants it to be easy?

see above

I also quite like the fact that there's no assessment in the first semester but the drawback is that there's no way of telling how you're doing until the assessment in the second and by then it might be too late.

see above

I love the format for the seminars though and think the internet is a fantastic way of going through the course as it means everything is accessible all the time. The group meetings are a good idea but hard to organize and there's a feeling that they ought to be policed - we've had a lots of fun in them though.

Thanks for the course, I'm really enjoying it!


· Feel comfortable contributing to discussion. - but seminars sometimes become unfocussed.
· Course structure is coherent and well established - like the fact that each week builds on the last
- feels we're getting somewhere
- only confusion as to reading dossiers.

there's a full description of the reading dossiers here.

· Would like more guidance in fictional works to analyse
- even see a literature reading list, as well as a theory one.

hmm, interesting. I think it's down to you to find works to analyse, but a quick way of doing that is to look at the reading lists and see what others have analysed.

· Would like more discussions and recourse to literature in the seminars and work set and more detached, critical viewpoint - less people talking about themselves.

if you look at the week by week programme, you'll see that works out at about 50/50, which I think is just about right; any more towards the literature, and we wouldn't be able to grasp this large body of difficult theory.

What do you mean by a more detached, critical viewpoint? If you mean offer criticisms of the theorists, in my view that's for you to do. I present them for your criticism, and try and make them understandable. You choose what you think about them.

· Like use of the internet
- but too many clicks to get to this week's work. fixed: thank you.
- Like being able to put material of the net into most convenient format for me before printing it instead of badly photocopies handouts!


It was nice to get in touch with a new way of studying, but I confess I miss a little the research we can do in books, to have different sources we can look at as a comparative work on the author we study. see the reading lists.

I enjoy trying to analyse poems in a psychoanalytic way, but I sometimes feel I go too far, and never really know if it is possible to argue my ideas or not. A kind of directory model could help I think, just to give an indication on how to manage with our analyses. Do you mean a kind of flowchart? Too prescriptive, I think. But I've provided links to exemplary analyses.

Having more books indicated to us for a broader vision of the author would also help maybe, even if I know that we have a limited time to study each of them.

But in general, it is a very nice course to be in.


First of all, the topics and themes. My original reason for choosing the course was the first year lectures, which captured my imagination somewhat. The Theories of the Mind seminar course continued to do this, opening up to me not only new way of thinking about literature but primarily new ways of thinking about myself and others. I found the Jungian elements particularly interesting, if a little mind-bending. The internet structure also provided a useful reference point. The option to produce web-pages instead of an essay offers the chance to learn skills not usually associated with an English Lit Degree.

As always, it would be a better course if we could have two seminars a week or even more? - one hour a week doesn't really do the theories justice. Also the assessment: 6000 words and 100% weighting places a lot of pressure on one piece of work, especially as I have never written a Freudian, Jungian or Lacanian reading/essay.

for the essay preparation, see above. thank you for your enthusiasm, but I think two seminars a week would kill me...


Challenging and lively and interesting, lovin it.
Perhaps more visual stimulus and handouts?
Keep up good work on website, it's really good but can get better, how about some pictures, prints, artistic conceptions of literature discussed? Upload some John Lennon! er, illegal?
Really plug the discussion forum as well because provocation will mean more students asking questions and getting to grips with material.
Have a good Christmas!


I have enjoyed the course and found it challenging and interesting.
At first the module was above my head to be honest, but with further reading and looking at the website I have got to grips with things a lot more.

I do like the website, and appreciate the web as a mode of teaching, however I do feel dissatisfied with the lack of handouts as I do not have internet access at home and therefore am limited to doing all my web-related research on campus and subsequently paying to put it on paper.

On this course, all the handouts are free, and there are a lot of them; but the catch is, if you want them printed out you have to pay for it. Somebody has to pay, and the Department won't.


I have really enjoyed the seminars for this module as they deal with really interesting material and encourage lateral thinking.

What is good can also lead to panic due to unstructured nature of course - feel unsure that I have covered enough material in my own time but that's obviously my problem more than the seminars but perhaps more reference to what is expected of us in the scary 5000 word essay as I'm sometimes not sure what I'm working toward (in a practical-degree c'work sense) but on the whole the module is a big thumbs-up: exhilerating, inspiring and fascinating.

Actually the course is rather highly structured, as you can see from the website (and the comments of other students). For the essay, see above.


I feel that I would like to be advised more upon the form which the reading log should take. It is an assessed piece of work and I am still not sure about the length or information that it should contain. I would appreciate some feedback upon this. Ok, will do.

I have enjoyed the read availableness of information on the internet relating to the course - this has been extremely useful to my progress.


I have enjoyed the course so far. I found the open-discussion structure of the seminars useful as I felt it was more productive to talk ideas through within the group than to receive a lecture from the tutor.

I have found the academic content of the course challenging so far. I think it would be helpful if more secondary reading was suggested or listed on the internet. done.


Very good, interesting, enjoyable, thought provoking.

Personally I am a technophobe and prefer to have extra material in my hand not on a screen - the same is true of recommended extra reading - (a realistic amount!)

Reading dossiers - bizarre - you know my opinion.

Generally the most taxing but more rewarding and challenging course I do. Genuinely interesting and relevant.

Thank you.


I have been thoroughly fascinated by many aspects of this course - I like the relaxed seminar approach.

I would be interested in being given some guidelines so as to further my reading of fictional literature around the subject. Ok, here you go.


§ Simple and easy to use website - very useful for homework assignments.
§ Very enjoyable discussions in seminars - relaxed atmosphere made it easy to ask questions.
§ Possibly more formalised feedback on assignments would help for assessed essay. There will be full feedback on the presentations and reading dossier.
§ The seminars were very useful in helping me understand the finer points of Freud and Jung.


The Theories of the Mind course has been one of the most inspiring modules or subjects I've yet to study in my academic life! Everyone that study it truly do enjoy it and it makes the whole university course seem so much more satisfying.

The website was really useful but a bit of basic internet training would have been good because I am utterly clueless about the web! It was a little frustrating that I had to use University computers to do any work, involving waiting around for free computers in the library and having to work in a less comfortable work environment!

However, if I had installed internet access at home I would have loved this facility. This would be useful on other courses too.

Thank you Tom for his attitude towards the course, seminar discussions were really interesting and enthusiastic. The layout of the room with cushions etc, (NB to internet readers, there are chairs too: cushions are for overflow!) made for a relaxed atmosphere.

well, thank you for your enthusiasm (and thank all of you, for your thanks). Actually I did offer internet training, but no-one took me up on it. I'll push it harder next time.


I have really enjoyed the course so far. We all agree that this course is the most interesting and fun out of all the courses we have done in English. I think that the course has been very well structured. To begin with, I was quite daunted by these theories but I am very pleased with all that I have learnt this semester. This course has certainly been inspiring and I am glad that I chose to study it.


The course was very well organised and interesting.

You could add some additional reading as there isn't too much to take in this term. done.
You could also give us more idea of what else there is to learn about Jung beyond our level so that we don't trivialise it. see the reading lists, I think.
Also not sure about Lacan reading. Some more would be good.
This was the best, or most enjoyable module of my degree so far. It has been very though provoking.
Have a good holiday.


I really like the Theories of the Mind course. When I signed up for it, I didn't really know what to expect, but it turned out to be very interesting. The setup was really good, the weeks followed each other in a logical way.

I don't see anything that could or should be changed - I'm looking forward to next term.


The course has so far been incredible - what we learn seeps into every other aspect of my life and enriches it.

The workload is just right and the mini-seminars are very beneficial and revealing. The seminars themselves are the highpoint of the week and one is left with the sense that what we are discussing and thinking through is worthwhile.

Have a wonderful holiday and thank you for your course.


I've just told you that I think everything is going well and to be honest I haven't got a lot to report. I'm happy with the way things are going and nothing needs changing.

Sorry this isn't more helpful but eat least its positive.

Thanks and have a great time in Amsterdam.


The course has been followed through logically, and each week has built upon the previous week's learning. I have never felt that I was lost, but I have also never felt that I knew completely what was going on, such is the nature of the course, and the mystery that surrounds Theories of the Mind, is part of the experience.

This course is difficult, however, everything is difficult until it is understood, and the few moments of clarity, given an incentive to follow through the course logically, and attempt to understand more.

The teaching is different to any other I have experienced, and the approach is sometimes startling, this is a very good thing, and I can honestly say that I enjoy and look forward to Theories of the Mind more than any other subject so far.

There is plenty of work to do, as every piece of reading required a lot of thinking and notetaking, the workload is okay.

well, again, thank you all for your kind and thoughtful comments. I hope my answers are helpful.


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