You are here

C LIT 250 A: Introduction to Comparative Literature: Literature and Culture

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 12:00pm - 2:10pm
* *
Jingsi Shen

Syllabus Description:

CLIT 250A/ENG 200D/GERMAN 298A: The Doppelgänger

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, "How They Met Themselves," c. 1860-64

In this class, we deal with the genre of fantastical and the uncanny. We will explore the effects and implications of the theme of Doppelgänger—a spiritual double, an evil “twin," or a monster within. Stories of these mysterious second selves continue to fascinate consumers of fictional works. Plots of doublings create at once a sense of horror and aesthetic pleasure: audience of these works are held temporarily in abeyance, wavering between reality and fantasy. We will read a set of 19th century literary works which popularize the motif of the Doppelgänger and examine the relation between the rise of these works and their social contexts. We will then continue with several Expressionist films, a form that forges the elements of doubling and fragmentary identity into a visible and tangible force.

Where does the appeal of the Doppelgänger come from? What does it have to do with our unending journey of quest of the self? And what can it teach us about radical uncertainty and its remedy? We will approach these issues by practicing close reading, comparative analysis, and writing analytical papers. You are required to write two essays throughout the term, each about 1000 words in length. 



  • “The Sandman” by E.T.A. Hoffmann
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Selections from Faust Part I by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • “Borges and I” by Jorge Luis Borges
  • "The Uncanny" by Sigmund Freud


  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
  • Faust (1926)
  • Metropolis (1927)
Catalog Description: 
Study of literature in its relation to culture. Focuses on literature as a cultural institution, directly related to the construction of individual identity and the dissemination and critique of values.
Department Requirements Met: 
Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
May 11, 2020 - 9:12pm