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An Interest in Twins

by Jenalyn Reyes

Dr. Karen Dillon, Chair of the English and Communications Department, was interviewed by a Danish newspaper for an article that mentioned her book, “The Spectacle of Twins in American Literature and Popular Culture.” The book was originally published on July 18, 2018, but over the past couple of years it has attracted the attention of a couple journalists also interested in the depiction of twins.

The book itself is about the literary and pop culture representation of twins from the late 19th century up to today. Dillon said, “It makes the argument that popular and literary representations of twins largely respond to the scientific and historical narrative of twins in the U.S., which goes from eugenics and the nature vs. nurture debate in the late 19th century through the popularity of conjoined twins being visible through freak shows.”

Dillon is an identical twin, which led to her interest in how the media represents twins. “I was always fascinated by the ridiculous portrayal of twins as eerily close,” she said. “They speak in unison, they’re always standing side by side, they’re dressed alike, there’s always an inclination that they’re so close that they might be too close, the sexualization of twins and just the ridiculous, freakish way we see them as eerie because they look so alike.”

The article that mentions Dillon and her book is “Her er en minoritet, der rent faktisk er overrepræsenteret på det store lærred: tvillingerne.” However, it is not the first article to mention her book. The online culture journal Bustle interviewed her late last spring for an article about the anniversary of the film “The Shining,” which features a pair of creepy twins. “Bustle interviewed me because of my book, and then the Danish journalist saw that article. That’s why Rasmus Elmelund called me for his own article. He wanted my thoughts on why twins are so popular and why there are so many twins on TV today.” said Dillon. 

When describing how the interview went, she added, “You feel like you give them so much good information, and you talk for thirty or forty minutes, and then they pull out the most random quotation. But then you realize all they really need is one quote to show they’ve done their research. I’m always surprised by the lameness of the quote they pick.”

It is possible that Dillon may write more books in the future. “I really enjoyed the writing process. However, I just don’t know what it would be about,” she said. “I think it would be several years before I figure it out.”

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