Masters Thesis

That which refuses to stay buried: Twin Peaks and the spectral Native of American discourse

In this project I analyze David Lynch and Mark Frost’s television series Twin Peaks, with special focus on the presence of a “spectral” Native American antagonist in the mythology of the series. I briefly trace the image of the spectral Native American in the history of American arts and letters—a history that conveys the preoccupations and anxieties of a young nation—and I explore how the presence of a contemporary spectral Native American in Twin Peaks both complicates our understanding of the social politics embedded in Lynch’s body of work, and indicates a collective American psyche still struggling to come to terms with the origins of its stolen land. I argue that Twin Peaks is a televisual update of what Renee Bergland names American literature’s discursive strategy of “ghosting” Native Americans, and I explore how depictions of ghosting in the medium of television elucidate the modern-day dynamics of a centuries-old feature of American letters. ii