Provisional List of Speakers, Titles, and Abstracts

 


Murray Lee Brown (English Department; Georgia State Univ.)

There´s the Rub: To Dream, or Not to Dream: Popular and Enlightenment Visions of Visions.

Among the questions I would like to address, primarily (I think) should be the notion of Enlightenment philosophy vs. the popular (and religious) notions regarding the worth of dreams. Such a discussion would certainly involve Hobbes and Locke but I would also touch on Ancient authority as well as figures such as Andrew Baxter, James Beattie, Thomas Branch, Phillip Goodwin, as well as the militant (and somewhat maniacal) fringe represented by figures such as Freke.

The fact is that despite (or in spite of) nearly all philosophical warnings, apprehensions, and interdictions, the general population regarded dreams with increasing interest, and seemed to have placed greater stock in the dream than ever. I suspect that (as per Hobbes greatest fear) this is partially explained in religious contexts — and certainly in protestant traditions — that stressed mystical connections with the dreamer and the godhead. Hobbes, of course, feared that anyone who believed himself prophet was a danger to organized religion and therefore to the state. Apparently Hobbes fears were well founded. Consider that in England Artemidorus’ Oneirocritica was in its 13th edition in 1710, its 20th in 1722, and its 23rd in 1755.

Whichever direction my research takes me (whether to the novel, to chapbooks, to sermons – or to all of these), I will continue to stress the popular vs. the "enlightened" notions of the worth of dreams.


Gabriele Dürbeck (Inst. f. Germanistik, Uni Rostock)

Discourses on the Dream and the Problem of Regular and Irregular Association of Ideas around 1750.

The paper will deal with a fundamental problem of Enlightenment psychology: Is the theory of the association of ideas compatible with the logical and rationalistic system of science? The discourses on the dream are a special field to discuss this problem in detail. None of these discourses around 1750 fail to take their stand in this question. There are three answers:

1. The logical order of ideas in dreams doesn’t differ from the normal order of ideas in the state of being awake. Therefore the reason of the a-logical state of mind in the dreams lies in the same state of mind of the waking person which will be continued in dreams. In this regard the association of ideas with the rules of similarity, contiguity, causation (Locke, Hume et. al.) is the basic theory.

2. The logical order of ideas can differ from the waking state; therefore dreams give us more insight into the concealed wishes and needs of a person. So it is assumed that the dream is a true 'mirror' of ourselves.

3. Dreaming and being awake are fundamentally different states of mind, the one is logical, the other illogical. There are two consequences: (a) For that reason the dream is seen as a source to recognize 'the other' of the mind (see 2). (b) But it is also a reason to reject the dream as a source of error, fraud, and illusion.

The paper will point out the arguments for one or two of the possible answers in special tracts from German, English, French, and Italian philosophers and physicians. Especially the German Moral Weeklies from Georg Friedrch Meier und Gotthold Samuel Lange (1748-1768) with a rationalistic and moralistic point of view, then the sensualist view from David Hartley (Observations on Man, 1749) and E. B. de Condillac (Traité des sensations, 1754), the materialist view of Ludovico Antonio Muratori (Della forza della fantasia umana, 1745), and the physiological investigation from physicians like Johann Gottlob Krüger (Naturlehre, 1758) or Albrecht v. Haller (Elemente der Physiologie, 1772) should be compared in their different versions of the problem. With this selection I will argue for the assumption that the dream will be 'anthropologized' in the theories around 1750, because most authors interpret it as psycho-physiological problem neglecting the visionary aspects of the dreams.


Bernard Dieterle (Allgem. Lit.wiss., TU Berlin/Neapel)

La métaphore du rêve dans les écrits de Herder.

Ma contribution est centrée sur l‘emploi métaphorique du mot "rêve". En ce sens, elle est conçue comme contrepoint à celle de Manfred Engel, conscrée à l‘examen lexicographique du terme. Je m‘intéresserai principalement au plan connotatif et poétologique. Pour cerner cette portée métaphorique du mot "rêve", je partirai d‘un cas isolé (mais, je crois, hautement représentatif), celui de Johann Gottfried Herder. Les écrits de cet écrivain permettent en effet de cerner assez précisement la cassure terminologique ou la crise du terme dans l‘histoire de la poétique du XVIIIème siècle. Herder employe en effet le paradigme du rêve pour caractériser un type de production littéraire (Shakespeare, entre autre), mais aussi pour distinguer la peinture de la scuplture. Mon analyse "immanente" sera flanquée de trois questions qui permettront de débattre la chose sur un plan plus général, à savoir:

Dans quelle mesure cet emploi métaphorique recoupe-t-il les conceptions scientifiques du rêve?

Dans quelle tradition européenne l‘usage terminologique de Herder se situe-t-il?

Quelle est la provenance et quelle est la portée historique de l‘analogie établie entre "rêve" et Shakespeare?


Manfred Engel (Europ. Literatur; Hagen),

The Dream in 18th Century Encyclopaedias.

The title is, I believe, fairly self-explanatory: I shall concentrate on relevant articles in the well-known encyclopaedias of the Enlightenment (e.g. Chamber´s ‘Cyclopedia’; Zedler’s ‘Universallexicon’, d’Alembert’s and Diderot’s ‘Encyclopédie’) and try to reconstruct and compare the dream-theories laid down in these compendia of knowledge. I shall concentrate on questions like: What is the (supernatural, physiological, or psychological) origin of dreams? What is their heuristic value? What is the best way to deal with them, understand them, manipulate them? Are there standard examples for dreams, standard authors and standard quotations? Is it possible to point out significant differences between Englisch, French and German encyclopaedias? Are there significant changes between articles of the early, high and late Enlightenment?


Jutta Heinz (Inst. f. Germanistik; Univ. Jena)

Anthropological Concepts of the Dream.

While many personal dreams are published in popular journals of the "Erfahrungs-Seelenkunde" it is remarkable, that there is nearly no room for an elaborated theory of the dream in academic, anthropological, and psychological concepts. Mostly the theme is treated shortly together with various phenomena of the "Einbildungskraft" as enthusiasm, madness or superstition. In these contexts, the authors are mainly interested in the following questions: How do dreams arise? How do body and soul interact in dreams? What could be the possible use of dreams? And what is their moral value? In my paper I would like to reconstruct the anthropological theory of dreams by analyzing the answers to those questions in texts of J. G. Krüger, C. F. Pockels, L. H. Jakob, I. Kant and others.


Henriette Herwig (Inst. f. Germanistik; Univ. Bern)

Wilhelm Meister´s Dreams.

Whereas the protagonist's dreams in Goethe's novel ‘Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre’ are both psychologically rnotivated and structurally connected with the plot, Wilhelm's observatory dream in ‘Wilhelm Meister's Wanderjahre’ is part of the Makarie-myth. Makarie, who is described as "a living armillary sphere", said to carry the solar system within herself, is an alien being in an otherwise realistic novel. Her special abilities are an allegorical combination of nineteenth-century natural sciences with Renaissance natural philosophy. Her myth is a late response Goethe's to his own juvenile Lucifer-myth which was originally based on hermetic readings and remembered by the sixty-year-old author in ‘Dichtung und Wahrheit’. With the Makarie-myth, the eighty-year-old Goethe takes his juvenile hubris back and outlines an utopian human community where empathy and forgiving love lead to mutual healing.


Paul Ilie (Spanish and Comparative Lit.; Univ. of Southern California)

Dream Cognition in the West European Context.

"Dream cognition" is defined here as the production and valuation of knowledge through non-sensory means during sleep. "West European context" is defined as the grouping of Spain, France, and England under a single rubric, in the assumption that their close artistic, political, and economic exchanges permit a unifying focus when scholars seek broad 18th-century intellectual and cultural trends. When authors from other nationalities are translated into or write French (e.g., Haller, Hemsterhuys, Bonnet), they too are included.

My study seeks to discover common trends or divergences across international boundaries regarding the genesis of dreams, their operations, and their truth-claims. This project belongs to my still-unfinished volume 3 of The Age of Minerva.

The current state of research on dreams in the 18th century may be classified by several categories. One approach examines dreams as treated by a single author (e.g., Diderot by Vartanian). A second approach surveys many authors in single nation for their philosophical and biological writings about dreams (France, by Crocker; England, by Armstrong and Tennenhouse). Yet another approach studies specific literary dreams as narrative devices (in the Gothic novel, by Doody) or for character analysis (Lovelace in Clarissa, by Aikins). All efforts try either to document the growing interest in non-supernatural dreams, or else to describe the genesis or content of dreams. The result confirms that dreams played a role in increasing the space claimed by irrational orientations to reality.

My project suggests that it would be instructive to compare accounts of dream cognition in a wider framework than the one formed by the theorists of a single nation. No detailed study exists of dream physiology and psychology as a consensus of West European writings. A missing perspective is one that identifies each element of dream production (e.g., nerve fiber), and determines its relative importance among all the authors who mention it without regard to nationality. Thus, the components of dream genesis (neural fluid, traces, imagination, etc.) carry different weight for Formey, Hartley, and Torres Villarroel, to name only one author from each nation. A further perspective would describe the cognitive value that dream-process held for West European authors. Thus, for Bonnet, the soul is a "mere spectator" of ideas disordered by nerve impulsions; for the less skeptical branch, the soul's "imaginative power" can form ideas without the sensorium; and for the Catholic Santibáñez, the imagination is moved by a "higher numen." This comparative example begins to establish relative positions on the relation between dream process and epistemological problems (e.g., degrees of reality and illusion, truth-value, concepts of oneiric idea, impression, appearance, simulacrum, image). All three authors are dualists while diverging in their adherence to sensationalist and mechanist doctrines. I am not convinced that dividing all dream theorists into these two schools, as proposed by Crocker, is as nuanced an approach as my comparative example. The preliminary table attached to this proposal illustrates the approach.

In another area of dream cognition, both painting and literary texts may also serve to describe positions about truth-claims. Thus, in Goya's Capricho 43, the monsters produced by the "dream of Reason" are not so much manifestations of disorder as a vision of the extrarational, metamorphic reality that is hidden beneath the orderly surface of rational language and sensory perception. Goya's etching is the final stage of his concept of the "Universal Language" of dream, which represents this disorder and remedies the consequences of cognitive discontinuity. Goya uses dream as a reliable form of cognition because the daylight world of rational order proves to be an insufficient condition for true knowledge. Enlightenment science has not only discovered Nature's laws but has exposed Nature's unruly complexity in the very attempt to reduce it to laws. In an example of dreams as a literary device, Mercier gives the dream a naturalistic explanation, of the kind that might occur to someone faced with contemporary problems in France, as Paul Alkon has shown. As a final example of a cognitive exercise through literary dream, the fact that Voltaire wrote a whimsical dream about Plato in addition to his philosophical articles is a fact of some weight. Plato continues to emblemize all the extrarational concerns that Lockean epistemology cannot resolve. Whereas Diderot satirizes modern hypothesizers who know only a bubble-blowing Plato" (Mangogul's Dream" in Les bijoux indiscrets [ch. 29]), Voltaire, by writing "Le songe de Platon," gives expression not only to his ludic taste for narrative fantasy but to a mental format that corresponds to Platonic reality. That is, if waking life perceives only appearances, then something other than waking life must better perceive reality. It is not that life is a dream after which the soul awakes to reality, but rather, as Turben insists in Les songes du printemps, reality is the dream that begins after the mind dies and is reborn. The only plausible means of representing this "real" perception is for the writer to exploit the dream format. This Voltaire does, with the fitting addition that Plato himself is the dreamer.

My paper would elaborate the issues and methods cited above, then discuss the comparative table that I am currently developing, and finally survey the cognitive status of unstudied literary examples.


Jennifer Lewin (Department of English; Yale University)

"When monarch-reason sleeps this mimick wakes". Representations of Dreaming in Poetry from neo-Classicism to Romanticism.

During the English Enlightenment, dreaming was a phenomenon that stimulated significant intellectual developments in a variety of cultural discourses, including philosophy, science, religion and literature. Indeed, the uncertainty and curiosity surrounding its very nature and origins allowed these bodies of knowledge to inform one another and meant that dreaming was at the center of many ideological debates. This paper will consider developments in the parallel histories of two genres - oneirocritical treatises and literary dreams in poetry - in order to argue for the centrality of dream experience as a mental process which dramatized abstract concerns about the role of dreams in creating self-knowledge. As oneirocriticism moved away from the idea of moral responsibility for one's dreams, poets began to engage the motif of the dream as a necessary component of myth-making. To demonstrate this phenomenon, the present study will compare the odes on dreaming of unpublished and published but little known eighteenth-century poets with more well-known, Romantic literary dreams, in the context of juxtaposing the writings of Owen Felltham and Thomas Tryon with those of Baxter and Swedenborg.

While oneirocriticism at the beginning of the eighteenth century predominantly argued that dreams are products of the soul's freeing itself from the shackles of the body during sleep, and are crucial indicators of a person's secret, unbridled thoughts, by mid-century oneirocritics came to regard them in an opposing light - as external to the soul, penetrating it while the body is inert, and therefore having no moral bearing on the dreamer. In this context the writings of Owen Felltham and Thomas Tryon will be juxtaposed with the later ones of Andrew Baxter and Emanuel Swedenborg.

The differences between these competing theories are compellingly enacted in the unfolding history of eighteenth-century poetry. The rhetoric of the literary dream in the increasingly popular "Pindaric" odes (found in unpublished commonplace books as well as little-known, published short lyrics) serve to illustrate the former principle, while the dream-poems of Romanticism (such as those by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron and Keats) were strongly influenced by the latter. Within this broader context another micro-narrative emerges: representations of "Baxter's sprites" went from being a pretext for exploring one's erotic longings to introducing the darker, Gothic presence in the mind of "what we were not" (in Byron's phrase). As the case of Baxter illustrates, throughout the discussion my primary investigation will be the literary responses to the above philosophical debates about the experience of dreaming.


Michel Porret (Dep. d´histoire générale; Univ. de Genève)

L' "imagination des songes est une république dans l'état d'anarchie": Samuel Formey (1711-1797) physiologiste des rêves.

"A une époque que nous pouvons nommer préscientifique, l'humanité n'était pas en peine d'interpréter ses rêves. Ceux dont on se souvenait au réveil, on les considérait comme une manifestation bienveillante ou hostile des puissances supérieures. Avec l'éclosion de l'esprit scientifique, toute cette ingénieuse mythologie a cédé le pas à la pas psychologie, et de nos jours tous les savants, à l'exception d'un bien petit nombre, sont d'accord pour attribuer le rêve à l'activité psychique du dormeur lui-même": ces phrases célèbres de Sigmund Freud (1925) montrent qu'avant la conquista psychanalytique, le rêve a toujours constitué un objet d'interrogation pour la culture savante et pour celle que l'on nomme "populaire".

Aboutissement de la "crise de la conscience européenne" des dernières décennies du XVIIe siècle, le XVIIIe siècle est marqué par le triomphe d'une culture rationnelle qui récuse notamment le prémonitoire et le divinatoire comme moyen d'explications du monde. Mise en oeuvre par les élites du temps qui fustigent les "superstitions" et les "préjugés" (théologiens, "philosophes", magistrats, etc.), cette acculturation discrédite diverses pratiques sociales (astrologie judiciaire, jeu de hasard, etc.) ancrées traditionnellement dans le recours à la "magie" ou marquée par le providentialisme. Même si la raison des élites du temps des Lumières reste marquée par une fascination envers les catégories culturelles qualifiées comme "irrationnelles", une nouvelle intolérance culturelle émerge pourtant: l'intercession directe entre l'homme et le divin ou le magique est frappé du sceau de l'interdit et génère les catégories de l'illicite. Les phénomènes inexplicables par la raison et l'observation empirique ("prétendue sorcellerie", mort apparente, mastication des cadavres, vampirisme, revenants, etc.) ne signalent plus un monde caché qui échapperait aux lois naturelles, mais souligne simplement un science inachevée dans sa connaissance rationnelle de la nature.

Dans le contexte de cette anthropologie naturaliste, la question du rêve et de ses mécanismes illustre assez bien, me semble-t-il, ce tournant des Lumières. Depuis l'Antiquité (Artémidore, La clef des songes, IIe siècle après J.-C.), rêver signifie "prévoir". Or, le XVIIIe siècle représente une transition dans cette culture de l'onirique, puisque s'affrontent deux conceptions du sens des rêves. D'un côté, le paradigme "rêver c'est prévoir", hérité de l'onirisme divinatoire, n'est licite (encore partiellement) que dans le cadre du providentialisme chrétien que révèle la Bible. Or, on le sait, ce rêve prémonitoire suscite notamment l'ironie d'un Diderot ou d'un Voltaire (Les "rêves, raille Voltaire, ont toujours été un grand objet de superstition").

De l'autre, s'affirme progressivement le paradigme du rêve naturalisé, c'est-à-dire du rêve comme activité physico-morale révélatrice de la psychologie, de l' "imagination nocturne" et de la physiologie humaines. En effet, dès Descartes, le changement majeur dans l'explication et l'usage philosophique du rêve réside surtout la dans perception naturaliste des activités oniriques liées à la physiologie humaine. Parfois symptôme d'un cerveau fatigué ou malade (hallucinations, somnambulisme, mélancolie), le travail du rêve traduit la continuité des activités de l'esprit entre la conscience de l'éveil et l'inconscience du sommeil. Pour les sensualistes, le rêve doit montrera l'existence d'une liaison entre les sensations dans l'état de veille et celles durant l'état de sommeil. Le rêve peut en outre informer sur l'inné ou l'acquis: le travail du rêve est-il une réélaboration nocturne des images et des idées construites durant l'état d'éveil, ou alors révèle-t-il, lorsque les sensations sont au repos, la nature réelle de l'homme?

Du côté du rêve "magique", l'érudit Lenglet Dufresnoy (Traité historique et dogmatique sur les Apparitions, les Visions et les Révélations particulières, 1751; Dissertations anciennes et nouvelles sur les apparitions, les Visions et les Songes, 1752) adhère à la tradition de l'onéirocratie prémonitoire qu'il rationalise en la christianisant. Entre rêve de saints et de philosophes anciens, son matériel onirique repose sur les visions, apparitions et songes attestés par la tradition chrétienne de l'extase visionnaire.

Au contraire, du côté du rêve "naturalisé", le secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie de Berlin, le protestant Samuel Formey, instigateur peut-être de l'Abbé Richard (Théorie des songes, Paris, 1766), démontre que l'activité onirique est inséparable des mécanismes naturels du sommeil réparateur (Essai sur les songes, Mémoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences de Berlin, II, 1746, pp. 245 - 279; largement repris par De Jaucourt, Encyclopédie Diderot et d'Alembert, article "Songes. Métaphysique et physiologie".) Tout au plus, les rêves permettraient-ils de vérifier ou d'infirmer les hypothèses sensualistes sur les mécanismes de la connaissance: pendant le sommeil, les sens sont-ils au repos? Les rêves informent-ils sur la continuité "spirituelle" entre les sens de l'homme éveillé puis endormi? Au contraire, mesurent-ils une béance entre le dormeur et son environnement? Par ailleurs, récusant tout "songe philosophique", Formey marque une rupture dans l'analyse (ou la tentative empirique de compréhension) des mécanismes oniriques: si le philosophe récuse toute idée de rêve prémonitoire, c'est bien parce que le rêve informe, non point sur l'avenir social d'un individu, mais bien sur le passé de son âme. Détourné de tout questionnement théologique des activités oniriques, Formey (intéressé ailleurs au sommeil et aux conduites suicidaires par exemple) peut être inscrit, avec prudence et sans anachronisme, dans la généalogie des "sciences de l'homme" attachées, dès la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle, à investir cette face invisible de l'homme nommée alors "âme", avant qu'elle ne soit appelée "inconscient".


Diethard Sawicki (Inst. f. Geschichte; Uni Bochum)

Nightly Visions, Ghosts, and Scholars - Debates on Dreams and the Supernatural in 18th Century Germany.

Towards the end of the 18th century apparitions, second sight, and visionary dreams as manifestations of the supernatural were discussed intensely within the German republic of letters. ‚Awakened‘ religiousness and the rejection of materialistic and atheistic theories by German scholars had a strong influence on these debates. A sketch will be made of the different positions and conflicts where the philosophical and psychological discourses concerning dreams became parts of the debates on the supernatural. Which arguments were used by enlightened critics of the irrational when they had to treat a topic that was dangerously near to fundamental Christian doctrines?


Michael Stolberg (Inst. für Geschichte der Med. u. Med. Soziologie; TU München)

Dreams and Nightmares in Enlightenment Medicine

The nightmare, or incubus, was the topic of  a rather intense debate in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Contemporary physicians found it difficult to come to terms with this disturbing experience. Though, at first, the possibility of a demonic intervention was still widely accepted, the discussion focussed on the presumable somatic causes. The condensation of animal spirits and vapours into frightening images offered one popular explanation, the subliminal perception of bodily disturbance in sleep another, for example when accumulating phlegm or mucus hindered breathing and created a feeling of suffocation. The debate on incubus was thus, at the same time, part of a wider effort to arrive at a consistent medical theory of dreams within the context of a predominatly somatic concept of human psychology.


top of the page:  congress homepage: institute homepage: