The Doppelgänger in Literature
In this course, we will read works of long and short prose fiction that feature Doppelgängers. Across different texts, we will see physical lookalikes, imagined second selves, a body divided into two parts, and mechanical representatives of human bodies. Comparing these texts, we will consider the various functions of doubles in literary works – to explore characters’ psyches, to show contrasting possibilities, to reveal something hidden about a character or the society from which the text emerged. We will also read works of criticism. Since this is a W course, you will be required to write two 5-7-page essays, one of which you will revise and resubmit for your final assignment.
A required coursepack will likely include Hoffmann’s “The Sandman,” Poe’s “William Wilson,” Maupassant’s “The Horla,” Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer,” Gogol’s “The Nose,” de Morgan’s “A Toy Princess,” and various critical works. You must also purchase the Norton Critical Edition of Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Nabokov’s The Annotated Lolita (edited by Alfred Appel, Jr.) – these particular editions are required.