BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    'Am I not my selfe at that time?' : Sleep, dreams, and selfhood in early modern England

    Boyce, Niall Patrick (2023) 'Am I not my selfe at that time?' : Sleep, dreams, and selfhood in early modern England. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

    Sleep Dreams and Selfhood_NB Thesis_Final Submitted Version.pdf - Full Version

    Download (3MB) | Preview


    In the early modern period, dreams were a potential source of knowledge, but also a moment of inward anarchy when the senses delivered scrambled messages and the faculty of fantasy toppled that of reason. How was this dreaming self, with its bizarre actions and experiences, reconciled with waking life? This thesis uses evidence from domestic environments, diaries, pamphlets, and plays at the turn of the seventeenth century in England to explore sleeping and dreaming, and asks how these contributed to—and disrupted—the sense of an inner self at a point of major cultural and religious transition, as well as material alteration in sleeping practices. Taking a historicist and medical humanities approach, this thesis proposes that the dream-self was made sense of not through inward exploration of personal biography, or suppressed wants and desires, but rather through containment in greater superstructures of the divine, the influence of the stars, and the written and printed page. Moreover, the activation of the mental faculty of fantasy that typically occurred during the act of dreaming might also have been experienced and exploited in the playhouse, employing self-disruption to positive, creative effect.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2024 14:44
    Last Modified: 30 Jan 2024 03:28


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item