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Title: The Doppelgänger in Wilhelmine cinema (1895-1914) : modernity, audiences and identity in turn-of-the-century Germany
Author: Kiss, Robert James
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2000
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The Doppelganger is a celebrated motif of German silent cinema that has been seen by art and literary historians as a filmic descendant of German Romanticism, and by psychoanalysts as a concretisation of human beings' fears regarding their own potentially fragmentary nature and mortality. This research builds on such interpretations by suggesting that - in the case of German cinema before World War One, at least - the Doppelganger can be read as a signifier of modernity as it was experienced by members of various social groupings. Returning to primary sources, some 203 films are identified that featured a Doppelganger and were released in Germany between 1895 and 1914. This corpus is broken down both by genre (into detective films, comedies and art films), and in terms of the polarities of identity about which the figure of the Doppelganger is constructed (high yersus low class, female versus male, and black versus white). From here, individual chapters address the Doppelganger as a fantastic representation of shifting class, gender, sexual and ethnic identities in Wilhelmine society. Each chapter draws in particular on contemporary sources relating to the various frames of identity under discussion, and suggests possible readings available to Wilhelmine spectators of the Doppelganger in individual films and genres. In this way, meaning is located at the intersection of the filmic text and contemporary discourse, and the 'Doppelganger film' can be regarded as a conduit for exploring issues of shifting identity within modernity, with particular regard to perceived new identities constructed 'between' supposedly stable binary oppositions of class, gender, and so on. These include the 'new woman' (perceived as a female incursion into the male sphere), the nouveau riche (moving between low and high class identity), the 'sexual intermediate' (constructed between male and female sexuality), and so forth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Academy. Humanities Research Board
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN1993 Motion Pictures