In this ten-week class, we will consider dreams and reveries by delving into literary dreams. On alternating weeks, we will enter the waking dream of film. We will also write through our own dreams and reveries (both recorded and invented), starting with keeping a dream journal for the duration of the class. Will also use meditative and trance techniques to enter, and write from, hypnagogic states.
We will read Ayane Kawata’s Time of Sky & Castles in the Air, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu, to meet the dream journal as literature, and as a way into the practice of keeping our own dream journals. Next, we’ll read SD Chrostowska’s The Eyelid, becoming sleeper agents for the Republic of Dreams and asking, with Chrostowska, how to push back against the instrumentalization of dreaming as yet another site of productivity and self-optimization? Jackie Wang’s The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void, considered in light of Charlotte Beradt’s Third Reich of Dreams, will occasion a conversation about our collective repression of the crises of climate change and fascism, and how these existential issues reemerge in the oneiric realm.
We’ll read Soleida Ríos’s The Dirty Text, translated from the Spanish by Barbara Jamison and Olivia Lott, as a way to ponder the eidolon, or oneiric double, that Ríos creates in her textual avatar Soledad. Finally, we’ll read Poupeh Missaghi’s trans(re)lating house one, a model for the inextricability of dreams, art, and activism. Although we won’t be reading full length critical works, some of the thinkers of dreaming, such as Gaston Bachelard, Hélène Cixous, and Jalal Toufic, among others, will be hovering over the class as tutelary spirits.
Some of the films and filmmakers we’ll consider include Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Afterlife, Věra Chytilová’s Daisies, Cauleen Smith, Hayao Miyazaki, and David Lynch. Kore-eda ushers us into a gentle dream of death as low-budget restaging of our most singular memory. Chytilová dreams feminist surrealist ludic cacophony. We’ll experience Cauleen Smith’s Afrofuturist sci fi dreams, Miyazaki’s material imagination, and Lynch’s psychosexual fantasia.
The goal is not to become scholars of a dream canon, but to allow these exemplary dreamers to lead us deeper into our own dreams and into the craft of dream-making.