Contagion as Metaphor: The Unconscious Significance of COVID-19

Philosophy | Social Sciences

Course Description

All Winter 2021 courses will take place on Zoom. Readings will be available online and by in-person retrieval.

"The outbreak of coronavirus has become more than a deadly epidemic. It is also a canvas onto which people's deepest fears and prejudices are being projected."
—Srećko Horvat

Apart from the widely shared fear, loneliness, and grief that have become such pervasive features of this time of pandemic, has COVID-19 unleashed other emotional reactions that might be more difficult to discern, express, and endure? In what ways might concepts such as transmission, infection, contagion, and immunity be metaphors for a deeply rooted, unconscious dimension of our experience of interpersonal relations? Has this viral upheaval revealed an otherwise buried set of fantasies and emotions linked to our early helplessness and dependence on others, and to the ways we are shaped, and misshaped, from the beginning of our lives by cultural forces of which we initially have no awareness and over which we have no control? How might we respond to our primordial permeability and susceptibility so as to enjoy a measure of freedom and participate in the playful exchanges that are the ground of creativity?

Books to purchase (will be available at Argo Bookshop):

    • TBA

Please note that this course has a maximum enrollment of 14 students.

Priority is given to students who pay upon registration.

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that we do not allow participants to audit courses for free.

Course Details

First Session: Monday 18 January 2021

Course Length: 6 weeks, Mondays, 6:15 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.

Discussion Team: Christine Jamieson, Mary Maler, Daniel Schouela

Degree Credit: Half-credit

Course Fees: 

$120.00 (standard tuition) 

$80.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:



$145.00 (standard tuition)

$105.00 (promotion for new students)


Course fees are refundable in full before the second session. After the second session, a fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the third session. Please note that non-attendance does not constitute a withdrawal.

Students pursuing studies for credit are encouraged to consult with their advisers as they register for courses.

Course leaders, and students wishing to use credit vouchers, should call (514) 935-9585 to pay by phone or to schedule an appointment to pay in person.

If you are a RETURNING student

If you are NEW to TMI

Questions? Stuck? Give us a call at (514) 935-9585
or email us at