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George Pigman III

Professor of English
George (Mac) Pigman headshot
Contact information for George Pigman III
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A.B., Harvard College, 1973; M.Phil., Yale University, 1975; Ph.D. (Comparative Literature), 1977; Ph.D., (Psychoanalysis), Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute, 1989. Assistant Professor of English, Caltech, 1977-80; Assistant Professor of Literature, 1980-83; Associate Professor, 1983-93; Professor of Literature, 1993-2004; Professor of English, 2004-. Executive Officer for the Humanities, 2003-08.

Research Interests

Renaissance Literature; History of Psychoanalysis


Intellectual History; Literature and History


George Pigman is interested in Renaissance literature and intellectual history. Much of his current research focuses on dream theory, as he's recently completed a book that details how dreams were understood in the past, The Mystical Usurper of the Mind: Conceptions of Dreaming from Homer to Freud and De Sanctis.

Dreams are mysterious, and they take possession of our minds as if they had an irresistible power of their own. The usurpation of the mind by dreams has contributed to the belief that they accurately and supernaturally predict the future, reveal things unknown in the present, or warn the dreamer to do or not to do something. Even today most people believe in this kind of dream, which Pigman calls admonitory. His book presents the history of conceptions of dreaming in Europe during the period in which the admonitory dream was the main focus of learned interest—from the Homeric epics through the Renaissance—and the period in which it began to become a secondary focus, the eighteenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, many researchers were interested in the dream as a psychological event rather than as a portent of the future. More of them were ceasing to ask, "Which dreams reveal the future, how do they do it, and how can we interpret them?" and were asking instead, "What are dreams, and how do they work?" In broader terms, European thinking about dreams up to 1800 was primarily concerned with what they might mean or reveal. Although revelation of the future was the most common kind of significance, dreams were also thought to reveal the health or illness of the dreamer's body, his wishes, character, and daily pursuits. In an epilogue, Pigman considers the two most important dream theorists at the turn of the twentieth century, Sigmund Freud and Sante De Sanctis. While Freud is concerned with the old questions of what the dream means and how to interpret it, De Sanctis offers a synthesis of nineteenth-century research into the question of what a dream is, and he represents the Enlightenment transition from particular facts to general laws.

Pigman received the Arnold L. and Lois S. Graves Award in 1980–1981. He held a research clinical fellowship at the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute from 1983 to 1989 and was a Mayers Fellow at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in 1990. He has written three books, edited two others, and written dozens of articles and reviews. He was an associate editor for North America for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and International Review of Psychoanalysis in 1991–1992. Since 1993, he has been a council member of the Renaissance English Text Society.

Selected Publications


Grief and English Renaissance Elegy (Cambridge University Press, 1985).

Anthony Trollope, Kept in the Dark, edited with introduction and explanatory notes (Oxford University Press, 1992).

Creative Imitation: New Essays on Renaissance Literature In Honor of Tomas M. Greene, edited by David Quint, Margaret Ferguson, G. W. Pigman III, and Wayne Rebhorn (Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1992).

George Gascoigne, A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, edited with introduction and commentary (Clarendon Press, 2000).

Conceptions of Dreaming from Homer to 1800 (London: Anthem Press, 2019).

Giovanni Gioviano Pontano, The Virtues and Vices of Speech, edited and translated, The I Tatti Renaissance Library (Harvard University Press, 2019).

Articles and Review Articles

"Imitation and the Renaissance sense of the past: the reception of Erasmus' Ciceronianus," The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 9 (1979), 155–77.

"Versions of Imitation in the Renaissance," Renaissance Quarterly 33 (1980), 1–32.

"Barzizza's Studies of Cicero," Rinascimento 21 (1981), 123–63.

"Barzizza's Treatise on Imitation," Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance 42 (1982), 341–52.

"Notes on Barzizza's Correspondence," Italia medioevale e umanistica 25 (1982), 391–9.

"Du Bellay's Ambivalence Towards Rome in the Antiquitez," in Rome in the Renaissance: The City and the Myth, ed. P. A. Ramsey (Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1982),

"Suppressed Grief in Jonson's Funeral Poetry," English Literary Renaissance 13 (1983), 203–20.

"Demystifying Humanist Education," Annals of Scholarship 5 (1988), 197–205.

"Subversion, Self, and the New Historicism," Huntington Library Quarterly 52 (1989), 501–8.

"Conversion of Psychotherapy to Psychoanalysis: The Policies of the Institutes of the American," Psychoanalytic Inquiry 10 (1990), 131–4.

"Neo-Latin Imitation of the Latin Classics," in Latin Poetry and the Classical Tradition: Essays in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, ed. Oswyn Murray and Peter Godman (Oxford University Press, 1990), 199–210.

"Limping Examples: Exemplarity, the New Historicism, and Psychoanalysis," in Creative Imitation, 281–95.

"Applied Psychoanalysis Today," Criticism 34 (1992), 299–315.

"Freud and the history of empathy," International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 76 (1995), 237–56; trans. Libro Anual de Psicoanálisis 11 (1995), 123–43, and Livro Anual de Psicanálise 11 (1995), 123–42.

"The New Hysteria Studies," Psychoanalytic Books 8 (1997), 25–35.

"Editing Revised Texts: Gascoigne's A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres and The Posies," in New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, II: Papers of the Renaissance English Text Society, 1992–1996, ed. W. Speed Hill (Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1998), 1–9.

"Electronic Books," Huntington Library Quarterly 61 (1999), 115–26.

"George Gascoigne," Tudor England: An Encyclopedia, ed. Arthur F. Kinney and David W. Swain (Garland, 2001), 285–6.

"The Dark Forest of Authors: Freud and Nineteenth-Century Dream Theory," Psychoanalysis & History 4 (2002), 141–65.

"George Gascoigne," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004), xxi. 582–5.

"George Gascoigne," The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature (Oxford University Press, 2006), ii. 384–7.

"William Lisle's Translation of Virgil's Eclogues," Notes & Queries 54 (2007), 398–91.

"Pastoral and Idyll" and "Pastoral Drama," The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, vol 2: 1550–1660 (Oxford University Press, 2010), 248–57, 293–8.