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English Story Discussion Who Goes There 1938

Question Description

For individual discussions, you will generally be required to post a response of at least 200 words to a topic of your choice. Each prompt includes introductory explanation plus severalquestions. Each topic response should focus on a relevant issue you wish to examine and should make a thoughtful, well-developed argument. Close reading and use of quotation is encouraged. Use parenthetical page or electronic location numbers for citation, ie. (148). Before responding to the prompts, read prior posts, especially any that have been highlighted by the instructor. If particular questions have already been answered satisfactorily, choose other questions to address. Strive to avoid producing repetitive responses; instead, try to bring something new to the conversation to keep it moving forward.

Discussion of the short story "Who Goes There?" (1938).


The uncanny is the return of the repressed. Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory maintains that social pressures on the developing child lead to the rejection of unacceptable anti-social desires and thus the spitting of the self into the conscious mind (the ego) and the unconscious mind (the id). Forbidden drives do not disappear, they are instead repressed into the id and pushed out of consciousness, but they have a tendency to erupt again. The (re)appearance of repressed desires creates the sensation of the uncanny. Aspects of the self that may be repressed include the primitive thought processes of early childhood (such as belief in omnipotence, magic, talking animals, etc.), the unmediated desires of early childhood (perverse sexuality, orality, aggression, vengeance, etc.), and the threatening anxieties of early childhood (being eaten, castrated, buried, lost, split, doubled, etc.). The uncanny is never gone for good; it is the monster that always returns.

As Cohen points, monsters may embody not just difference but a strange familiarity that can be characterized as uncanny. The monster may appear as a distorted mirror image of the protagonist. The alien may be a reflection of the human, or at least those aspects of the human that are socially controlled and psychologically repressed. How does the Thing in "Who Goes There?" echo some of the characteristics of the stranded men (and vice versa)? What makes this Thing of nightmare uncanny in the Freudian sense?

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