Reading & Composition

Reading & Composition

Double Takes
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Mary Vitali
210 Dwinelle

“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”

-Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde


This course will explore reflections, fragmentations, and other doubles of the self, ranging from the split personalities of Jekyll and Hyde through contemporary depictions of clones and identity thieves. Whether posing a kindred affinity or a more ominous threat, how do these uncanny shadowings destabilize reality and personal identity in the text? What tensions do these distortions and amplifications of the individual bring to the surface? We will address these questions and others while reading across a range of eras and genres, including texts from Borges, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Hoffmann, and Wilde. We will also view and discuss horror films such as It Follows.

As a Reading & Composition course, our main objective will be to develop critical reading and writing skills. As such, substantial class time will be devoted to writing workshops and peer reviews. In addition to completing frequent essay assignments and revisions, students will be expected to read up to 150 pages of literary and scholarly texts each week, and to participate actively in class and virtual discussions.