René Magritte, The Double Secret

Dreams and Dreaming: Philosophy, Psychology, and the Unconscious

Instructor: Samantha Hill
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

“The interpretation of dreams,” wrote Sigmund Freud in 1900, “is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.” Though long before, and ever since, Freud’s radical proposition that the dream’s power is to show us in miniature the workings of the psyche in general, dreams have beguiled and inspired artists, writers, and theorists to daring formal innovation, intimate self-analyses, incisive cultural critique, and even, as Walter Benjamin cautiously explores in his essay “Surrealism,” the formulation of new political horizons. From Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s dream-inspired speculative metaphysics to Theodor Adorno’s wartime dream diaries to Adrienne Rich’s feminist-poetic Dream of a Common Language, how have the links between dreams and waking life been variously explored and excavated, for all their philosophical, political, social, and aesthetic affordances? What can dreams, unlike any other phenomenon of mental life, illuminate for us, about the nature of reality, of experience and sensation, of our subjective being and our being in common with others? 

In this course, we will take an interdisciplinary survey of dreams and their work, taking up poetry, film, literature, psychology, and critical theory, in order to ask: what does the prevalence of dream analysis, across eclectic fields of inquiry, reveal about the conditions of 20th century modernity? Can the language of dreams offer us a vocabulary for rethinking subjectivity in the 21st? Readings will be drawn from Freud, Benjamin, Adorno, Rich, Coleridge, Carl Jung, André Breton, John Keats, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allan Poe, Elizabeth Bishop, and Charlotte Beradt’s collective dream diary, The Third Reich of Dreams, among others.

Course Schedule

Sunday, 2:00-5:00pm ET
April 14 — May 05, 2024
4 weeks

$335.00

Registration Open

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