Writing Dreams: reconceptualising the literary dream in storytelling
This Special Issue of TEXT will explore the capacity of dreams, dreaming and dreamscapes to function as powerful literary devices within a wide array of creative writing forms. It is also curious about creative practice as a kind of dreaming, where a practitioner’s engagements might constitute a quasi dreamwork-on-the-page. Thus, an inherent connection exists between dreams, creative impulse and storytelling. Are dreams stories that demand more space in our humdrum routines and lives? How does writing and its ethico-political scope relate to dreams and visions of what’s possible?
Dreams exhibit writerly devices at work in literature—metaphor and metonymy, among a raft of others. In addition, the unconscious processes that unfold during dreaming often tap the conscious processes deployed when constructing literature, and vice versa. However, the poietic strategies fundamental to crafting dream sequences for written forms entail more than simply duplicating the realdream’s narrative potential or structure: they require writers to translate dream-like elements into tangible sequences, rhythms, or scenes, to bring material substance to the oneiric.
Significantly, prominent psychologists have long argued that dreams evidence unconscious processes associated with human psychic operations and lived experiences. While Freud noted the ability of creative writers to access processes akin to psychoanalysis (through the manipulation of language, deliberate lapsus linguae, etc.), Jung believed that the narrative structures common to dreams provided insights into an individual’s internal imbalances. It follows that literary dreams have often attracted interpretation through a psychoanalytic lens. While written dream sequences are typically interpreted as a re-presentation of real dreams, another take suggests that dream texts are like other literary texts and require significant creative effort and skill to be effectively crafted.
It could therefore be asserted that the written dream—even if based upon a real-life “dreamt” experience—cannot duplicate simplistically any process in the unconscious, but rather may complicate and extend such processes, counterpoint and unsettle them. From this perspective, literary dreams are also closely related to the compositional manoeuvres of literature and literary knowledge; raw dreaming is only the beginning, an entwined, sibling phenomenon.
If—for Freud—dreams conjure complex forums that allow our wishes to be fulfilled (covertly or otherwise), then dream-writing and literary dreams with their particular logics speak to the role of desire, of wishes, of our ambivalences and our attitudes to the future. In other words, dream writing dares to go beyond the mundanely possible, testing the implausible, the forbidden, the tender and the strange. Perhaps, then, a broad conceptual approach can allow an investigation of the narrative features, aesthetics, and functions of literary dreams, an approach that extends, but doesn’t exclude, the insights of psychoanalysis.
In the Australian context, the term “dreaming” has even broader resonances and longer history, as the term “dreaming” was adopted as the shorthand term in the English, as Yunkaporta argues, for: ‘supra-dimensional ontology endogenous to custodial ritual complexes’ (Sand Talk 2019:22). “Dreaming”, therefore, for writers on Australian soil, includes not just what happens during sleep, but what we might have a chance of encountering, honouring, if we were to wake from a colonial stupor.
Thus, papers about writing dreaming, dreams, wishes, visions, the supra-dimensional and literary dreamscapes might embrace tenets central to critical textual analysis, and/or practice-led research, and be informed by Indigenous knowledges, so as to scaffold inquiries concerning the narrative features, aesthetics, and functions of literary dreams as they relate to creative writing practices, and diverse forms of storytelling more broadly.
We invite creative and scholarly papers that investigate the myriad of literary functions, and potential aesthetics, associated with dream sequences across various forms of written narrative and storytelling. Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:
- The dream text as de-familiarising devise
- Amplifying the literary surreal through dreamscapes
- Aesthetics and poetics of the literary dream
- Dreams as literary structural devices
- Dream sequences and the prophetic
- Constructing gothic literary dreams
- Representations of dreams in storytelling from different cultural perspectives
- Dreaming in Indigenous knowledges and ontologies
- Dreams and narrative discontinuities
- Literary texts as dreams
- Dreaming and creative nonfiction
- Dreaming/writing as mode of resistance/expression
- Literary dreams and character nuance
- Dreaming and creative processes/methodologies
Scholarly papers should be 6,000 – 8,000 words as per TEXT guidelines (including endnotes).
Abstracts for scholarly papers should be 200 words in length and sent to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 – 2 creative submissions only will be considered for this Special Issue. We are particularly seeking work on the issue theme from First Nations authors locally and internationally. Prose works would be finally 2 – 3,000 words, (or a conventional equivalent for verse or script-based works). Creative EOIs to us should include a short synopsis of the proposed work (and its relation to the theme and focus of the Special Issue). Please accompany this with a 200 – 300 word creative sample.
If this topic inspires you more broadly, we encourage you to consider submitting creative works to TEXT’s sibling creative Meniscus.
EOIs should be sent to the editors at email@example.com, with the subject line: ‘EOI for Creative Submissions’.
The deadline for Abstracts and Creative EOIs is COB Friday, April 22 (AEST).