'DREAMS AND ATROCITY' SYMPOSIUM
Almost 120 years after Sigmund Freud first posited his seminal theorisation of dreams in The Interpretation of Dreams(1900), cultural interest in sleep and dreaming is becoming increasingly pronounced, both within, and outside of, scholarly spheres. In popular culture, medical-scientific questions of how and why we sleep as well as our capacity to dream and its function have gained particular attention over the last decade, leading to a host of successful non-fiction titles centred on oneiric experience (Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep (2017); David Randall’s Dreamland(2013)). In memory and trauma studies, dreams continue to occupy an important space in relation to the processing of memories as well as traumatic experience via flashbacks and nightmares. Until very recently, however, the latter have largely been considered as belated symptoms of PTSD only, rather than phenomena worthy of study in their own right.
Recent efforts have been made to elevate the importance of the dream beyond exclusively psychoanalytic frameworks, in the arts and humanities especially. Dream researchers such as Douglas Hollan, for instance, have outlined the importance of methodological approaches to dreams that focus upon ‘what they might be expressing more literally about social and personal experience’, while others, like Max Silverman and Wojciech Owczarski, have invoked the dreamlike in relation to specific historical realities: namely, the Holocaust. Yet the dream remains relatively understudied in these contexts despite renewed critical attention, and despite the ubiquity of dream- or nightmare-like constructions and representations of historical atrocity in contemporary literature, film and art.
We invite papers for this symposium from 12th – 13th September 2019 at the Humanities Research Institute, Sheffield University, that offer diverse interpretive theorisations and applications of the dream or dreamlike in relation to significant moments of historical atrocity, as represented in contemporary literature, art and cultural production. These may include, but are not limited to, war; genocide; colonialism; environmental and ecological disaster.
We encourage international and multidisciplinary submissions from a range of fields (including literature, history, cultural studies, social sciences, animal studies, gender studies) that deal with the dream or dreaming in all of its guises, such as:
The dream as historiographical framework
Dreams and psychoanalysis
Dreams and memory studies
Dreams and trauma studies