Gothic Dreams/Gothic Nightmares

deadline for submissions: 
April 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Anthem Press
contact email: 


Since the advent of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), numerous Gothic works have been inspired – and thematically marked – by dreams and nightmares. This goes some way towards explaining why many Gothic narratives are oneiric in nature, symbolically-invested, conspiracy-suffused dreamscapes/nightmare-scapes that seem to exist at the penumbral crossroads of consciousness and unconsciousness and centre on an often paranoid, haunted subject. In the watershed movement broadly referred to as the Enlightenment, dreams and nightmares became, for the first time in centuries, an object of general interest, medical and philosophical interrogation, and debate. The surging sales of books on dreams, visions, presentiments, and sleepwalking in the mid- to late-eighteenth century attest to the compelling nature and significance of “irrational” phenomena in the Age of Reason. As critics like Margaret Ann Doody have argued, dreams and nightmares and the examination of the unconscious were also crucial to the development of literary character in the 18th-century novel (Gothic and otherwise), its expression and exploration. As works from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, to Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and beyond, evidence, dreams and nightmares were crucial narrative devices in the Gothic. Proposals for individual or collaborative papers across media, cultures, and national Gothics are invited on the subject of the Gothic unconscious – its dreams and nightmares – for inclusion in a collection of essays. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to):

• the changing face and meaning of Gothic dream/nightmare conventions/devices/symbols

• inspirational dreams/nightmares and the Gothic novel/novelist

• the Gothic and dream/nightmare-related genres and theories

• narrative strategies and dreams/nightmares

• oneirocriticism: dream theory (medical, psychoanalytic, spiritual, religious, pseudo-scientific, etc.) and the Gothic (e.g. Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hartley, Dugald Stewart, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Friedrich August Carus, Sigmund Freud, Ernest Jones, etc.)

• Gothic dreams/nightmares and the visual arts (e.g. Piranesi, Fuseli, Goya, etc.)

• oneiromancy, (religious) dream visions, prophecy, spiritualism, and the Gothic

• gender and the Gothic dream/nightmare (e.g. interpreting the female/male sleeper; the gendered conscious/unconscious)

• sleep terrors and Gothic terrors

• the drug-/alcohol-induced Gothic dream/nightmare

• dreams/nightmares and the expression and exploration of character (e.g. the critical work of Margaret Ann Doody on the subject)

• Gothic sleepwalkers (e.g. Charles Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly; or Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker, 1799; Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1897)

• Gothic dreams/nightmares across cultures and nations

• dreams/nightmares in the Age of Reason – does the sleep of reason produce monsters?

• Romantic individualism and Gothic dreams/nightmares

• Gothic dreamscapes/nightmare-scapes and paranoia/conspiracy

• Gothic dreams/nightmares and encounters with Otherness

• Gothic dreams/nightmares in video games

• Gothic dreams/nightmares on the big and small screens

• Gothic literature and dream/nightmare manuals (e.g. John Bond’s An Essay on the Incubus, or Night-mare, 1753)

Please send electronic copies of proposals of approximately 500 words and a 100-word bio by Thursday, April 30th, 2020, to Carol Margaret Davison at Carol is the series editor for Anthem Studies in Gothic Literature and a professor at the University of Windsor. 

(Submitted by AJ Girty, research assistant to Carol Davison.)