Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Rhetoric and Composition

Committee Director

Rosaleen Keefe

Committee Member

Kevin DePew

Committee Member

Kevin Moberly


The roots of horror are deeply entangled with the concepts presented through Enlightenment thinkers, especially in terms of the self and what makes a human truly a human; David Hume's essays and discussions on human nature lend themselves easily to the analysis of horror throughout the ages, particularly both in terms of what makes humanity human and in terms of metaphysical and theological concepts--and the rejection of them. This, coupled with Sigmund Freud and Otto Rank’s concepts of the uncanny, allows for the ability to perceive what makes creatures like the Doppelganger everlasting throughout humanity. Though horror as a concept includes many supernatural elements, at the heart lies a true fear of what it is to be human, and what it is to be not human; the Gothic functions to drive this point home through the usage of the Doppelganger to illustrate both the human and the human that is not human, including James Hogg's novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.

As a direct descendent of the focus on the horror of humanity, certain internet horror projects, such as the YouTube series i am sophie and Alex Kister's Mandela Catalogue, use the concept of the Doppelganger to juxtapose known humanity against unknown inhumanity and to underscore the true core of what makes the Doppelganger effective as a monster: twisting human nature, death, and humanity as a concept into something unknowable and alien to its audience, but just close enough to human to be unsettling—a creature haunted just enough by uncertainty to be, in the eyes of humans, wrong.


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