From Beowulf to Blade Runner, Western culture is obsessed with representing humanoid monsters and alter egos. The nightmare of a doppelganger impersonating or even replacing an individual has haunted writers as diverse as Mary Shelley and Vladimir Nabokov. Computer technology seems to have made the fantasy of being in two places at once a reality, and each year teams of programmers vie for the Loebner Prize for “Most Human Computer.” In this course we will meet famous doppelgangers of literature and film, with such questions in mind as, Can doppelgangers become fully human? and What if the doppelganger is you?


Why literature?
Monsters, (were)wolves, and zombies (alliterative poetry)
Twins and inanimate doppelgangers (drama and sonnet)
More than twins (short story and novella)
Invisible lives (essay and novel)

  1. Brian Christian, The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us about What It Means To Be Alive
  2. Vladimir Nabokov, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight
  3. William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
  4. Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

course website