The Politics of Dreaming – from Diderot to Keats and Shelley
Keywords:Poetry, dreams, neurology, John Keats, P. B. Shelley
Dreaming, seemingly a private activity, can exhibit political and ideological dimensions. The first part of this article looks at the ideological significance, within late Enlightenment and Romantic-era culture, of the very activity of dreaming, with particular reference to Diderot’s Le Réve de d’Alembert. Nocturnal dreaming and the somnambulistic behaviors closely associated with dreaming can and did challenge orthodox notions of the integral subject, of volition, of an immaterial soul, and even of the distinction between humans and animals. The second half of the article looks at two literary dreams, from the poetry of Shelley and Keats, considering how represented dreams can have pronounced ideological and political valences. The article as a whole illustrates the claims and methods of cognitive historicist literary critique.
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Copyright: The authors and Aarhus University Press