The Nightly Act of Dreaming: Cognitive Narratology and the Shared Identity of Myth

The Nightly Act of Dreaming: Cognitive Narratology and the Shared Identity of Myth

by Ryan Friesen


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The search for a shared practice of storytelling around which a popular study of cognitive narratology might form need look no further than our nightly experience of dreams. Dreams and memories are inseparable, complicating and building upon one another, reminding us that knowledge of ourselves based on our memories relies upon fictionalized narratives we create for ourselves. Psychologists refer to confabulation, the creation of false or distorted memories about oneself and the world we inhabit, albeit without any conscious intention to deceive. This process and narrative, inherent in the dreamlife of all people, is at odds with the daily menu of cultural myths and politicized fictions fed to the Western world through print and social media, and for which there is constant divisiveness and disagreement.
Cognitive Narratology and the Shared Identity of Myth uses insights gained from the scientific study of dreaming to explain how the shared experience of dreamlife can work in service to the common good. Primary texts and literary works, chosen for their influence on contemporary thinking, provide a rationale and historical background: From Artemidorus (a professional diviner) and Aristotle; to the Church fathers – Tertullian, St. Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Sinesius of Cyrene; to The Wanderer (Old English poem) and Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess; to Coleridge’s writings and R. L. Stevenson’s “A Chapter on Dreams”; and to twentieth-century dream theory, and dream use in film. The purpose is to enable readers through subjective self-analysis to recognize what they share with their fellow dreamers; shared identity in formation of a shared act of dreaming creation is a universal across centuries and throughout Western culture, albeit currently misrepresented and rarely acted upon.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781789760170
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Publication date: 09/01/2019
Edition description: None
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Ryan Curtis Friesen is a Senior Lecturer in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he has taught courses in medieval, early modern, and contemporary literature as well as composition since 2005. His previous book Supernatural Fiction in Early Modern Drama and Culture was published by Sussex Academic Press in 2010. It grew from research completed at the University of Leeds.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction Driven Apart, Dreaming Together 1

Chapter 1 Ancient Origins of the Isolated Dreame 15

Chapter 2 Dreaming at the Intersections of Body and Soul, Heaven and Hell 31

Chapter 3 Our Dreaming Selves in the Modern Mind 57

Chapter 4 Observations of the Sleeping Brain 83

Chapter 5 Can We Find a Function for Dreams or Must We Invent One? 104

Chapter 6 Dreaming Memories and the Unreal 129

Chapter 7 Nightmares, Erotic Threats, and Recurring Dreams 149

Chapter 8 The Dream Narrative 169

Chapter 9 The Way Forward for Dream Studies 204

Notes 230

Bibliography 264

Index 273

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