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We have learned from Sigmund Freud that the unheimliche is the strangely familiar. But according to Terry Castle ”it was during the eighteenth century, with its confident rejection of transcendental explanations, compulsive quest for systematic knowledge, and self-consciousness valorization of ‘reason’ over ‘superstition,’ that human beings first experienced that encompassing sense of strangeness and unease Freud finds so characteristic of modern life.” In our seminar we will investigate this claim by widening the field historically. Voices, ghosts, shadows, things, dolls, houses, fog and bogs, madness, and a host of other potentially unheimliche phenomena in literature and visual art will be juxtaposed. Starting briefly with sagas, folklore and fairy tales (including B.S. Ingemann, H.C. Andersen) we will look at prose fiction, dramas and films (including Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Herman Bang, Lars von Trier) as well as theoretical and analytical inflections of the uncanny (the architectonical, the archaeological, the ontological, the folkloric and so forth) within and outside Scandinavian (E.T.A Hoffmann and Edgar Allan Poe) Secondary readings will include Sigmund Freud’s “The Uncanny”; Tzvetan Todorov’s The Fantastic, Terry Castle’s The Female Thermometer, Anthony Vidler’s The Architectural Uncanny, Nicholas Royle’s The Uncanny; Kenneth Gross’ Puppet, an Essay on Uncanny Life, and others.
Prequisites: Graduate standing; consent of instructor.