014- Making – or Not Making – Sense of Dreams


Organized by: Prof. Manfred Engel, Prof. Bernard Dieterle, Prof. Laura Vordermayer



Dreams frighten and attract us because of their »otherness«, their manifold deviations from the world we know when being awake. One of the most consistently used techniques of coming to terms with this otherness has been the attempt to »make sense« of dreams, to consider and portray them as messages – sent, for instance, by supernatural forces or by the »unconscious« – which can and have to be deciphered. On the other hand (and much more rarely), dreams have been considered as a welcome source of ambiguity and non-sense, a source of entertainment, or as a key instrument to shatter or at least expand the limitations of a world view which is based on convention, reason, and the exclusion of the uncanny.

The workshop will analyse aspects of this dialectic in theoretical writings on the dream, in factual dream reports and in fictional representations of the dream in literature and all other media. We would be especially interested in proposals which show (1) how the »otherness« of the dream is celebrated and enjoyed, e.g. in genres and styles like the fantastic, nonsense, horror, surrealism, etc., and/or (2) how the dream is domesticated into a rebus, an allegory, a riddle which can and has to be solved. Papers (20 minutes) should focus on a close reading of two or three examples by different authors, ideally (but not necessarily) from different periods and/or different cultures.

The workshop will supplement the work of the erstwhile ICLA Research Committee »Dream Cultures« (2013–2019; www.dreamcultures.org) but be open for suggestions from all ICLA members. Proceedings will be published in the book series »Cultural Dream Studies«.