The Politics of the Dreamscape

Seth Nathaniel Rogoff | University of Amsterdam | The Politics of the Dreamscape | Supervisors: Esther Peeren & Thomas Vaessens | 2016-2020

Dreams have played an important role in cultures from the Hebrew bible to modern sleep science. The otherness and uncertainty of the dreamscape have given it a screen-like quality, reflecting and/or driving dynamics of political, social and cultural power. Through an analysis of a diverse set of sources ranging from ancient Mesopotamian and Taoist dream narratives to neuroscientific and data-driven approaches to dreaming, this dissertation will present the politics of dreaming as an integral element of the development of structures of order and control and as the site for a specific type of anarchism—one unique to the oneiric realm. Specific sections of the dissertation will include a study of dreams and the development of religious authority, a look at the rise of Freudian dream analysis and its role in the therapeutic relationship, an interpretation of key moments of modernist dreaming by, among others, Franz Kafka, Jean Rhys and Bruno Schulz in order to discuss challenges to the dominant psychoanalytical perspective, and finally a section on the rise of modern sleep science and data-driven analysis of dreaming, focusing on the position of dream meaning. This dissertation will be the first work to undertake a systematic analysis of the politics of dreaming.