Created in Our Image: The Miniature Body of the Doll as Subject and Object

Created in Our Image: The Miniature Body of the Doll as Subject and Object

Created in Our Image: The Miniature Body of the Doll as Subject and Object

Created in Our Image: The Miniature Body of the Doll as Subject and Object

Synopsis

Dolls and puppets can be viewed as the Freudian Uncanny, the Lacanian Other, the Kristevan Abject, and The Miniature and The Gigantic of Susan Stewart. The psychological implications of their creation are traced through several centuries of literature, primarily British fiction and poetry from the latter half of the eighteenth century to the present, plus some examples from American and Continental fiction.

Excerpt

Little attention has been given to the problematic role played by the handmade doubles, the three-dimensional, tangible figures such as dolls and puppets that fictional characters and craftsmen create in their own images. Especially when created in miniature, it seems that dolls appeal to the reader's fascination with and fear of images made in human likeness. Viewing the doll, the robot, and the miniature as manifestations of Freud's notion of The Uncanny, Lacan's Discourse of the Other, Julia Kristeva's concept of The Abject, and Susan Stewart's juxtaposition of The Miniature and The Gigantic provides a way to explore the psychological implications of their creation and the extent and the limitations of the power they hold, if indeed any, over the humans who have served as their models and creators. The images treated in these works are neither those placed ready-made in the text by the author nor those metaphysical in nature, but those that the fictional characters themselves have designed, created, and brought to life.

The motif of the man-made double can be traced through several centuries of literature, looking primarily at British fiction and poetry from the latter half of the eighteenth century to the present and, where pertinent, at examples drawn from the American literature and the Continental fiction of the same periods. Of particular significance is the reflexive nature of figures that have been made to imitate the appearance of their human creators and the way in which, as doubles, they stand in relation to their originals.

The complicated relationship these figures share with their creators combines the themes of the double, the doll, and the miniature. In chapter 1 of this work, Swift's Gulliver's Travels and short fiction by Goethe . . .

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