SCANDINAVIAN R5B, Section 2: The Uncanny Double

TuTh 8-9:30 , 206 Dwinelle. Instructor: Rue Taylor

Units: 4

All Reading & Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

While the motif of the double is not exclusive to Scandinavia, its presence has been felt in Nordic Gothic literature since the early 19th century, inspired by literary translations from Britain and continental Europe. This course will trace the evolution of the Gothic and uncanny double from the late 19th century to today, looking at both time and culture as factors in its development. We will begin by getting a feel for the classic double in Western texts by way of landmark works such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The course will then move to Nordic literature and its own interpretation of the Gothic to explore the changes undergone by the double in the Scandinavian environment through works by Henrik Ibsen, Selma Lagerlöf, Karen Blixen and more. At its core, this course will explore how the motif of the double can be employed to better understand social anxieties and issues in the Nordic countries and beyond up to the modern day.

The aim of this course is to help students further their skills in reading, analysis and composition, and to feel more confident participating in existing academic debates. The semester will culminate in a research project designed for students to learn how to find, analyze and engage with secondary sources at the university level.


Thomas Tryon, The Other (NYRB Classics, ISBN: 978-1590175835)

Course Reader

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent. Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.