Alumni Updates: German Studies News: German Studies

Arthur Schechter wins APSAA Best Undergrad Essay Prize

Arthur Schechter (W&M, 2009-2011; Brown University, 2011-Present) has won the American Psychoanalytic Association Prize for the best essay written by an undergraduate. Arthur’s essay, “Wagnerian Volksideologie, Narcissism, and Aesthetics:  A Study in the Totalitarian Imaginary,” emerged as the final paper in Rob Leventhal’s Modern German Critical Thought II: Marx to Habermas course in the spring of 2011. Schechter’s essay stood out as having not only fully grasped Freud’s texts – Fragments of a Case History of Hysteria (Dora), Beyond the Pleasure Principle, On Narcissism, Mourning and Melancholia, Civilization and its Discontents – but as having actively and constructively thought Freud further on an important topic: the ideology of Volk. Using Wagner’s Anti-Semitic texts (Das Judentum in der Musik, 1850) as his basis, Schechter not merely applied Freud carefully and effectively, which would be already quite a task for a freshman, he actually mobilized Freudian technique and concepts to provide a highly original, compelling analysis of Volksideologie in the second half of the 19thcentury. The American Psychoanalytic Association’s Best Undergraduate Essay prize is awarded each year to an outstanding essay of 25 pages or less which engages Psychoanalytic ideas in relation to a focused question in any academic discipline.