CFP: “Perchance to Dream”: Sleep and Related Phenomena in English Literature

Perchance to Dream”: Sleep and Related Phenomena in English Literature

Department of English, University of Bristol

Half-Day Conference, Wednesday May 7th 2014

Distinguished BIRTHA Lecture

Plenary Speaker: Professor Garrett Sullivan, Penn State University

From Medieval Dream Allegory to the lexical recreation of the subconscious mind inFinnegan’s Wake, literature has often explored the subject of sleep and its related phenomena. This conference aims to consider the many and diverse representations of sleep within English literature, and to explore the ways in which writers respond to this still largely mysterious biological necessity.

Professor Garrett Sullivan, of Penn State University, is a key figure within the academic field of Sleep Cultures. His monograph Sleep, Romance and Human Embodiment: Vitality from Spenser to Milton (2012) considers the use of sleep in Early Modern literature as a vehicle for exploring different levels of humanness. Memory and Forgetting in English Renaissance Drama: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster (2009) sets the role of sleep within a discussion of forgetting and selfhood in Renaissance drama.

We invite 250-word proposals for twenty-minute papers, indicating any IT requirements you might have, to be submitted by Monday 31st March 2014. Topics might include but are not restricted to:

●    Dreams and dreaming

●    The cognitive functions of sleep: levels of awareness and perception

●    Sleep and human embodiment

●    Narcotic sleep

●    Forgetful slumber – the relationship between sleep and memory

●    The landscapes and geographies of sleep

●    Disordered sleep – insomnia and restlessness

●    Psychoanalysis and the psychology of sleep

●    Sleep, mortality and eternity

●    Historical and cultural approaches to sleep

●    Sleep and human vitality

●    ‘Sleep: friend or foe?’

● Lethargy and exhaustion

Please send proposals either via email to or to:

Sleep and RP Conference,

Department of English

University of Bristol

3/5 Woodland Road

Bristol BS8 1TB, UK

This conference is part of a two-day event on Sleep Studies and we welcome attendees to attend a public interdisciplinary seminar with Professor Sullivan on Thursday 8th May. More details to follow. 

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