English R1B

Seeing Double

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Fall 2009 Knox, Marisa Palacios
Knox, Marisa
MWF 12-1 121 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White; Nella Larsen, Passing; Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers; and a course reader


Although cases of mistaken identity often result in comedy, the figure of the “double” or “doppelgänger” tends to have more sinister associations. As a literary motif, the double can be an omen of doom, a deliberate exercise in role playing, or a psychological symptom of self-consciousness, dissociation, or repression. On the level of language, the double entendre is a mischievous figure of speech that nonetheless encapsulates the often ambiguous quality of words.

In this course, we will explore how novels, dramas, stories, and nonfictional texts explore the idea of “doubling” and its implications in characterization, plot, structure, and style. Even as students cultivate the ability to “see double” and interpret texts in various ways, they will also be developing their writing skills toward clear exposition and argumentation of their specific interpretations. In order to expand and integrate these arguments within a larger intellectual context, the class will learn and deploy methods of research through periodic assignments. Students will ultimately apply these practices in writing and revising three research papers of increasing length, ranging from four to ten pages.

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