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Dreams of the Future

Zukunftsträume

Rêves de l’avenir

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Published on Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Abstract

As the research training group “European Dream Cultures” at Saarland University enters its ninth and final year, we would like our concluding conference to look not only back but also ahead, in focussing on future content of dreaming in literature, art, theatre, film, and music. Key questions include: What types of futures do artistic dreams of the future envision? Are they utopian or dystopian? Are they marked as dreams experienced during sleep, or are they imaginings of the future that are dreamlike in nature but anchored in the waking world? How do they connect to the present or the past, and to which version of these temporalities? What function do they assume within different works? To what extent do religious, political, or epistemological discourses influence these artistic dreams of the future?

Announcement

DFG-funded Research Training Group "European Dream Cultures" (GRK 2021)Saarbrücken, Saarland University

International Concluding Conference 8–10 February 2024

Deadline for applications: 30 June 2023

Argument

Since time immemorial, dreams have been held to possess a unique connection with the future. Prophecies and instructions delivered by dreams were already known in antiquity, with rituals practised to induce dreams about what was to come. The Bible speaks of nocturnal messages that can be sent by God – or be a trick of Satan. The belief that dreams can harbour predictions, still evidenced today by countless mantic books, blogs, and websites, combines hopes and fears about an uncertain future with the equally uncertain medium of dreams. This has found expression in art in various ways: as a source of fascination and as a multidimensional means of representation – be it in literature, film, music, or visual art – which opens up spaces of imagination and negotiation. That dreaming was understood up until the Middle Ages to be a projection of the future is reflected of course not only in books for decoding what dreams say, but also in literary texts. Conversely, dreams of the future can be employed in art in ways that are entirely functional – for instance, when prolepsis in a drama creates tension that grows as the plot unfolds and the status of the dream shifts from an uncertain to a certain prediction of the future. Exploring modes and functions of representation, moreover, always includes a historical dimension. In the tradition of discourse that continues from ancient times into the medieval period, dreams of the future are taken to symbolically anticipate actions and events in the waking world which the dreamer can no longer fully influence, as they are based above all on a power to intervene that is often divine. From the early modern period onwards, however, the dreamer’s agency becomes increasingly central in dreams of the future. Oneiric visions of the future thus also become spaces of possibility in which individual and collective designs of what is to come are tested in a kind of aesthetic play or enactment.

As the research training group "European Dream Cultures" at Saarland University enters its ninth and final year, we would like our concluding conference to look not only back but also ahead, in focussing on future content of dreaming in literature, art, theatre, film, and music.

Key questions include: What types of futures do artistic dreams of the future envision? Are they utopian or dystopian? Are they marked as dreams experienced during sleep, or are they imaginings of the future that are dreamlike in nature but anchored in the waking world? How do they connect to the present or the past, and to which version of these temporalities? What function do they assume within different works? To what extent do religious, political, or epistemological discourses influence these artistic dreams of the future?

In addition to a cultural studies perspective, the conference will maintain a focus on the specific aesthetics structuring dreams of the future. We will examine the relationship between oneiric imaginings of the future and contemporary conventions of representation – that is to say, the various normative models of poetics and genres that constitute conventions of aesthetic expression. This inquiry poses the question of the particularities inherent in the media used to stage experiences of time and the future. The view into the future is tied to specific media in other ways, as well – for instance, in that the system of tenses used in a literary text enables time to represented in a different way from the canvas of a painting, which is primarily structured around the presence of what it represents. In this context, the challenges of translating dreams of the future – not only between individual languages but also between media – are also of interest.

As the final conference of the research training group, we also invite contributions that link investigations of the dreamlike aesthetics of the future with the main topics of our previous research, and that use the results to investigate the following connections: How do dreams about what is to come shape themes of birth and death, which intrinsically point towards a future, be it worldly or transcendent? What role do visions of the future play in the tensions that run between sense experience and rationality? How do dreams conveying inspiration create ideas that can predict or shape the future? What forms of a time yet to come can be found in literary-aesthetic features or in specific motifs? How can a dreamed future world be envisioned beyond an anthropocentric perspective – starting, for example, from animals or objects on the threshold between dreaming and waking states?

Following the interdisciplinary and intermedia concept of the research training group, this call is addressed to researchers from the disciplines of art, cultural studies, theatre, film, media, music and literary studies, as well as history, philosophy and other related fields.

Submission guidelines

Please submit your proposal (not exceeding 400 words) for a talk in German, French or English as a PDF file to traumkulturen@uni-saarland.de

by the 30 June 2023.

Please include a short CV and (if existing) your list of publications.

The languages spoken at the conference will be German, French and English. Following the conference, we plan to include the contributions in an anthology.

Scientific committee

  • Janett Reinstädler (Université de la Sarre)
  • Hannah Steurer (Université de la Sarre)
  • Romana Weiershausen (Université de la Sarre)

Website: www.traumkulturen.de

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Friday, June 30, 2023

Keywords

  • Traum, Zukunft, dream, future, rêve, avenir

Contact(s)

  • Hannah Steurer
    courriel : traumkulturen [at] uni-saarland [dot] de

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Hannah Steurer
    courriel : traumkulturen [at] uni-saarland [dot] de

License

CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Dreams of the Future », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1b63

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