Instructor: Catherine R. Mintler
Section 004 TR 3:00-4:15 AH 0352
Section 900 TR 7:15-8:30 BL 0102
This course explores the mysterious, eerie, and uncanny doppelgänger, or “double walker,” that has haunted western culture, in particular folklore, fiction, horror, science fiction, film, for more than two centuries. In literary texts, the doppelgänger functions as a device used to articulate the experience of self-division, providing a ghostly double for a living person that appears as a twin, shadow, or mirror image, and often represents evil or misfortune. In consumer capitalism, it evolves from the automaton, an early form of robot that approximates human form and function, into a reproducible and, more importantly, commodifiable form of the “self as other,” that is refigured in the clone and department store mannequin.
We will read, discuss, debate, research and write about the doppelgänger in a variety of its doubling guises—as shadow self, automaton, replicant, mannequin, clone, and avatar—as it has been described and theorized from disciplinary genres like psychoanalytic theory, philosophy, painting, fiction, opera, cinema, and computer games.
Course texts may include: Sigmund Freud’s essay “The Uncanny,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman” (Freud's inspiration), Jacques Offenbach’s nineteenth century opera The Tales of Hoffman, Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, Edgar Allen Poe’s “Ligeia,” Jean Rhys’ “Mannequin,” episodes from the original Twilight Zone, and films such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Michael Crichton’s Looker, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique, David Fincher’s Fight Club, and Jordan Peele’s Us.