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12th - 13th September 2019
Humanities Research Institute, Upper Hanover St, Sheffield S3 7QY



University of Gdansk


Extended submission deadline: 5th August 2019

Almost 120 years after Sigmund Freud first posited his seminal theorisation of dreams in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), cultural interest in sleep and dreaming is becoming increasingly pronounced, both within, and outside of, scholarly spheres. In popular culture, medical-scientific questions of how and why we sleep as well as our capacity to dream and its function have gained particular attention over the last decade, leading to a host of successful non-fiction titles centred on oneiric experience (Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep (2017); David Randall’s Dreamland (2013)). In memory and trauma studies, dreams continue to occupy an important space in relation to the processing of memories as well as traumatic experience via flashbacks and nightmares. Until very recently, however, the latter have largely been considered as belated symptoms of PTSD only, rather than phenomena worthy of study in their own right.

Recent efforts have been made to elevate the importance of the dream beyond exclusively psychoanalytic frameworks, in the arts and humanities especially. Dream researchers such as Douglas Hollan, for instance, have outlined the importance of methodological approaches to dreams that focus upon ‘what they might be expressing more literally about social and personal experience’, while others, like Max Silverman and Wojciech Owczarski, have invoked the dreamlike in relation to specific historical realities: namely, the Holocaust. Yet the dream remains relatively understudied in these contexts despite renewed critical attention, and despite the ubiquity of dream- or nightmare-like constructions and representations of historical atrocity in contemporary literature, film and art.


We invite papers for this symposium from 12th - 13th September 2019 at the Humanities Research Institute, Sheffield University, that offer diverse interpretive theorisations and applications of the dream or dreamlike in relation to significant moments of atrocity, as represented in contemporary literature, art and cultural production. These may include, but are not limited to, war; genocide; ecocide; gender oppression; colonialism and apartheid. 


We particularly encourage international and multidisciplinary submissions from those working within the fields of philosophy, social science and gender and cultural studies that deal with the dream or dreaming in all of its guises, such as:

  • Dream-ontologies

  • Dream-phenomenologies 

  • Dreamscapes

  • The dream as historiographical framework

  • Dreams and psychoanalysis

  • Dreams and memory studies

  • Dreams and trauma studies

Please submit 300-word abstracts, along with 50-word bios, to Emily-Rose Baker and Diane Otosaka at dreamsandatrocity2019@gmail.com by 5th August 2019. Accepted participants will be notified by mid August 2019. Papers will be considered for publication in an edited volume on ‘Dreams and Atrocity’, full versions of which must be submitted by 30th November 2019. 


We ask that all delegates register at the symposium Eventbrite page by 31st August, 2019. Registration is free for students and unwaged persons and 15.00 GBP for non-students and those who earn a wage, and can be accessed here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dreams-and-atrocity-symposium-tickets-68613247069

Travel and Accommodation

For information on bookings in Sheffield, visit http://www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/visit/stay. You can also book to stay at the university's Endcliffe student village, which is a 25 minute walk from the symposium venue: https://www.speedybooker.com/en-GB/vendor/endcliffe. For those travelling from outside the UK, we recommend flying in and out of either Manchester or Doncaster and taking a direct train/bus to Sheffield, but it is also possible to fly into London and take a train/bus from there.It is always advisable to reserve train tickets in advance of travel (ticket prices increase closer to the day of travel). For information on travel, visit http://www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/visit/useful-info/location/getting-to-sheffield

Please note: we will shortly be providing details of a limited number of small travel bursaries, so please get in touch if you think you might need one. 



University of Leeds

We are pleased to welcome Prof. Max Silverman as keynote speaker for the Dreams and Atrocity symposium. Max's paper, titled 'Dreams, Trauma and Screen Memory', will trace the connections made by Freud between these phenomena and discuss how this provides us with fruitful ways to approach figurations of trauma in artistic works, with reference to Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige's A Perfect Day (2005).


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