Dreams and the Animal Kingdom in Culture and Aesthetic Media

International Conference


September 23 – 25, 2021



Organised by:


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Claude Fretz (Sun Yat-sen University)

Prof. Dr. Joachim Frenk (Universität des Saarlandes)

Prof. Dr. Anthony Guneratne (Florida Atlantic University)




Get the programme pdf here


Thursday, 23 September


14.10 – 14.30 Conference Opening: Joachim Frenk, Claude Fretz, Anthony Guneratne

  • Welcome from the Speaker of the RTG, Christiane Solte-Gresser


14.30 – 15.30 Panel 1: Animals, Dreams, and Cinematic Experiment

  • Anthony Guneratne (Florida Atlantic University): From Méliès and Montage to Chaplin and Découpage: Animals, Dreams and Cinema's Evolutions abstract and speaker info
  • Ada Ackerman (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique): Eisenstein’s Animal Dreams and Cinema (R) evolutions abstract and speaker info
  • Panel Moderator: Maurice Fitzpatrick


15.45 –16.45 Panel 2: Dreaming Animals

  • Laura Vordermayer (Universität des Saarlandes): Blinking Dreamily at the Flames: Dreams in Jack London’s The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906) abstract and speaker info
  • Eldritch Priest (Simon Fraser University): That Animals Dream... abstract and speaker info
  • Panel Moderator: Astrid Fellner


17.00 – 18.00 Panel 3: Animal Dreams and Identity

  • Sidia Fiorato (Università di Verona): Alice in Animal Dreamland: The Wonder of Alternative Identities abstract and speaker info
  • Roy Bing Chan (University of Oregon): Dreams, Animals, and the Speculative Vision of Vasili Eroshenko abstract and speaker info
  • Panel Moderator: Henrieke Stahl




Friday, 24 September


 9.30 – 10.30 Keynote Address

  • Bronwen Neil (Macquarie University): Status Anxiety and the Animal Kingdom in Byzantine Dreambooks abstract and speaker info
  • Moderator: Martin Meiser


10.45 – 12.15 Panel 4: Verhandlungen von Tieren und Träumen vom 16. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert

  • Susanne Goumegou (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen): Von Löwen, Elefanten und Schlangen: Tiersymbolik in der Traumliteratur der frühen Neuzeit abstract and speaker info
  • Ann-Kristin Fenske (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen): Dämonische Illusionen in den tragi-comédies pastorales am Beispiel von Aves’ Philistée (1627) abstract and speaker info
  • Elena Agazzi (Università degli Studi di Bergamo): Krügers Träume (1754): Moralische Überlegungen zwischen menschlicher und tierischer Welt abstract and speaker info
  • Panel Moderator: Joachim Frenk


12.45 – 14.15 Panel 5: Animal Dreams in Children’s Books and Films

  • Iris Schäfer (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main): Von Traumtieren und Gedankenpferden: Erträumte Tierfiguren als Initiatoren, Gefährten und Vehikel kinderliterarischer Traumreisen abstract and speaker info
  • Sophia Mehrbrey (Universität des Saarlandes): Seeing Pink Elephants – ein Traummotiv im Zeichentrick abstract and speaker info
  • Sofia Duarte (Universidad de Valencia): Cats as the Voice of Reason in Children’s Dreams: Coraline (2002) by Neil Gaiman abstract and speaker info
  • Panel Moderator: Lena Steveker


14.30 – 15.30 Panel 6: Magic, Transformation, and Prophecy in Animal Dreams

  • Claude Fretz (Sun Yat-sen University): Dream Animals and Animal Dreams in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream abstract and speaker info
  • Boria Sax (Mercy College, New York): Birds, Dreams, and Prophecy abstract and speaker info
  • Panel Moderator: John Roe



Saturday, 25 September


10.00 – 11.00 Panel 7: Cultural Specificity and Animal Dreams I

  • Maki Eguchi (University of Tsukuba): Counting Sheep: The Contextualization of “Dreaming of Sheep” in Japanese Culture abstract and speaker info
  • Arbaayah Ali Termizi (Universiti Putra Malaysia): Fatal End to an Animalistic Dream: A Reading of a Traditional Malay Children Folktale abstract and speaker info
  • Panel Moderator: Jonas Nesselhauf


11.15-12.15 Panel 8: Cultural Specificity and Animal Dreams II

  • Wojciech Owczarski (University of Gdańsk): How People in Poland Dream about Animals: Real Life and Literature abstract and speaker info
  • Rose Hsiu-li Juan (Chung Hsing University): Animal Dreams: Native American Dream World and Louise Erdrich’s Two Works abstract and speaker info
  • Panel Moderator: Heike Mißler


12.30 – 13.30: Panel 9: Dreams, Animals, and Inspiration: How Thoughts become Books


13.45 – 14.45: Round Table Discussion for all Participants and Farewell Address



Abstracts and Information on the Speakers

Anthony Guneratne (Florida Atlantic University):


From Méliès and Montage to Chaplin and Découpage: Animals, Dreams and Cinema's Evolutions

Until recently, modern humans stood on the top-most rung of an evolutionary ladder. No more, because recent scientific advances have confirmed that at least three co-evolved human species coexisted with us no more than 60,000 years ago. Media archaeology has yet to be accorded the same scientific rigour as palaeontology, with the consequence that the history of even such a compound medium as the cinema has often been pictured as a step-wise progression to the present-day blockbuster. 

In fact, from cinema’s origins as a scientific experiment in capturing the motion of humans, animals, and other living organisms, its component media have explored divergent paths. The present study proposes to elaborate two such divergences in figures who bear a superficial resemblance: Georges Méliès and Charles Chaplin came of age on England’s theatrical stages, one as a vaudeville performer and the other as an apprentice magician. Both were soon to found film studios preoccupied with the production of elaborate narratives built around their varied (but recognizable) personae and visual styles. The extreme degree of control they exercised over the end products contributed greatly to their personal prestige and the international triumph of cinema in its formative decades.

Even so, there remains a fundamental difference between them. Méliès sought to deceive the human eye in such a way that the deception was readily apparent – his narratives often accumulate these detectable deceptions in ways that elicit humor; Chaplin was no less partial to special effects, but made every effort to render his deceptions invisible, making the serio-comic plight of his protagonist the fulcrum of his comic representations. In many instances, animals play key roles in their cinematic oeuvres, just as their representations of dreams illustrate the evolving sophistication of their disparate styles. In some rather special instances the representation of dreams and animals coincide -- and this work will pay due heed to these “events,” as well as to some notable antecedent developments, “missing links,” as it were, in this elaboration of the idea of a multitude of evolutions. These specific animal/dream-centered observations can readily be seen to contribute to an axial debate, that between montage and its alternative, découpage, as competing ideals of cinematic narrative construction. Just as science now accords modern humans a very mixed genetic heritage, the present study endeavors to show that the representations of animals and dreams influenced each other but also charted evolutionary courses that continued to cross-fertilize cinema even after their initial elaboration by these and other pioneers. Cinema’s evolutions are, like their biological counterparts, stories of hybrid vigour.


The speaker

Anthony R Guneratne is a cultural historian and media theorist whose work on cinema has contributed to a number of books, articles and journal issues treating the theme of present-day interpretations of Renaissance events, performances, publications and visual culture. A specialist in adaptations of Shakespeare, he is the editor of Shakespeare and Genre (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011) and author of Shakespeare, Film Studies and the Visual Cultures of Modernity (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008). He treats Shakespeare’s dreamscapes often, as in a recent article in the journal Anglistik (Winter 2017): “Freud’s Footnotes and Renaissance Metaperformativity: Richard Haydocke, King James, and William Shakespeare as Interpreters of Dreams.”


Forthcoming book: Screen Performance and the Shakespeare Film Canon in the Spotlight of Archivision

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Ada Ackerman (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique):

Sergei Eisenstein’s Animal Dreams and Cinematic (R)evolutions

Sergei Eisenstein’s works are permeated with references to the world of animals, be they his films, drawings, or stage creations. Fascinated with physiognomony, he constantly relies upon comparisons between animals and humans and vice versa in order to characterize his protagonists. In that respect, he draws his inspiration from various authors, from Grandville to Lavater. Yet he goes beyond incorporating animals for a metaphorical use; in some cases, he also gives his viewer the opportunity to see the world through animal eyes, a device which is not only a defamiliarizing tool but also, we would argue, a revolutionary one. My paper will focus in particular on The General Line (1929), in which Eisenstein stages several dream sequences in which animals play a paramount role (where their points of view are rendered by the camera). What is the function of dream in this film? How can this be related to its political and economic agenda? And why are the animals necessary in such a conjunction between “the old and the new”?


The speaker:

Ada Ackerman has been appointed a Permanent Researcher at THALIM / CNRS (French National Research Center). An art historian, she has published The Endless Library of Sergei Eisenstein (2019) and a book derived from her PhD thesis, Eisenstein et Daumier, des affinités électives (2013). She focuses on the relations between art (mainly cinema and painting) as well as on cultural exchanges between the Soviet Union, Europe and the United States. She has curated the show Golem! Avatars d’une légende d’argile (2017) for the Jewish Museum in Paris and edited its catalogue. She has also been in charge of the show The Ecstatic Eye: Sergei Eisenstein at the crossroads of arts, held at the Centre Pompidou-Metz (September 2019-February 2020), as well as preparing its catalogue.

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Laura Vordermayer (Universität des Saarlandes):


Blinking Dreamily at the Flames: Dreams in Jack London’s The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906)

Despite being famous for his adventurous lifestyle as well as his best-selling novels during his lifetime, Jack London (1876–1916) has received little attention in literary studies well until the late 1970s. However, as more recent publications show, his writings contain more than an exciting plot: they combine influential ideas and intellectual developments, notably Darwin’s evolution theory, socialist concepts as well as Nietzsche’s philosophy, in a naturalistic poetics that denies the existence of a metaphysical destiny and deconstructs the notion of an undivided, conscious and rational self. Within London’s novels, dream episodes can have various functions, which I would like to examine more closely. It is noteworthy that both animal protagonists from The Call of the Wild and White Fang are dreamers: Buck, who is abducted and trained as a sled dog, connects with his wild ancestors and a pre-civilised past, “blinking dreamily at the flames” (CW 45). In both novels, the dream episodes also process the protagonists’ memories and summarise the action that has taken place so far (especially White Fang’s dream at the end of the novel). Their psychological dimension makes the characters more accessible all the while illustrating London’s main topic: the antithetical relationship between modern civilisation and nature in all its facets.


The speaker:

Laura Vordermayer has completed her Master studies in Saarbrücken (Universität des Saarlandes) with a thesis on Ingeborg Bachmann’s use of factual dream reports in the novel Malina. Since April 2018, she is part of the graduate college “Europäische Traumkulturen”. In her research, she focuses on dream reports which are published as autonomous literary texts or included in fictional works, analysing German, English and French texts.

Publications with reference to the dream:

  • “Between Factual and Fictional Narration: Literary Dream Reports in the Writings of William S. Burroughs, Georges Perec, and Ingeborg Bachmann.” In: Bernard Dieterle, Manfred Engel (ed.): Mediating the Dream/Les genres et médias du rêve. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2020 (= Cultural Dream Studies 4), 159–179.
  • With Christian Quintes (ed.): Zeiterfahrung im Traum. Was ist, was war, was sein wird. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink 2021.


Link to her new book: Zeiterfahrung im Traum. Was ist, was war, was sein wird.

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Eldritch Priest (Simon Fraser University):


That Animals Dream...

That animals dream is obvious. But what they dream about is not. As such, all we can do is make guesses about the content of their oneiric life, which means that what animals dream about is open to rampant speculation. In the 2018 short film Animals Under Anaesthesia, Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky take up this speculative project by portraying the dreams of a pig, a rabbit, a cat, and a dog as lyrical encounters with corporeality, death, and the natural world. Whether the film approaches the condition of animal imagination is not, however, the point of the film; instead, it is the aim of this cinematic oneirism to, as Gaston Bachelard advised, dream well. In this respect, our dreams of animal dreams might be understood less as representations of non-human mental life that rely on the primacy of perception and more as occasions to exercise our own imagination’s capacity to deform the given. Drawing on Bachelard’s theory of imagination, Brian Massumi’s recent work on animal play, and John Ó Maoilearca’s non-philosophical interrogation of the non-human, I suggest that the guesswork of what animals dream is a form of (day)dreamwork.


The speaker:

Eldritch Priest writes on sonic culture, experimental aesthetics, and the philosophy of experience from a ’pataphysical perspective. He is Assistant Professor in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. Eldritch is also a composer and improviser, as well as a member the experimental theory group “The Occulture.” His new book, Earworm and Event: Music, Daydreams, and other Imaginary Refrains, will be published by Duke University Press in spring 2022.  

For his publications and projects, see the following links:


Forthcoming book: Earworm and Event: Music, Daydreams, and Other Imaginary Refrains

Sidia Fiorato (Università di Verona):


Alice in Animal Dreamland: The Wonder of Alternative Identities

The nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of an interest in dreams that found expression in fantastic aspects of literary works, focussing on still unexplored areas of human experience through the conjoined lens of aesthetics and the newly developing discipline of psychology (and retrospectively interpreted through psychoanalysis). Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland’s dream stages animal characters who are no longer the sterotyopical helpers of children’s literature, but rather become new helpers as they put into doubt all the precoinceived opinions and/or mental frameworks for the interpretation of reality and the codification of specific social identities. Wonderland’s animal protagonists further reflect the period’s emerging conscience about animals’ rights and powerfully address the question of alternative subjectivities. They become subject agents through their mastery of language and thus disrupt hierachies of power, reversing their secondary position in an anthropocentric worldview and affecting Alice’s quest for her identity. Moreover, they embody the influence of Darwin’s theory on the collective unconscious, by putting under discussion and shifting the predatory quality from animals to human beings: a debate on the “status” of animal implies a complementary consideration on the status of “human”. Alice’s-dream like experience acts as a psychological/psychoanalytical investigation of the female young adult character and of society at large.


The speaker:

Sidia Fiorato is Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Verona. Her research interests include law and literature with a specific focus on the legal thriller, literature and the performing arts (dance, theatre, musical), the fairy tale, Shakespeare studies, literature and the visual arts, gender studies. She is a member of ESSE (European Society for the Study of English) and AIDEL (Associazione Italiana Diritto e Letteratura). Among her publications, Il Gioco con l’ombra. Ambiguità e metanarrazioni nella narrativa di Peter Ackroyd (2003), The Relationship Between Literature and Science in John Banville’s Scientific Tetralogy (2007), Performing the Renaissance Body. Essays on Drama, Law and Representation (edited volume with John Drakakis, 2016), essays on the postmodern fairy tale. She is currently working on a monograph on Alice in Wonderland.

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Roy Bing Chan (University of Oregon):


Dreams, Animals, and the Speculative Vision of Vasili Eroshenko

Vasili Eroshenko (1890-1952) holds a special place in the modern history of both Chinese and Japanese literature. Born in Russia, Eroshenko lost his sight in childhood. This did not inhibit his desire to travel the world as an intrepid global adventurer. In the 1910s he landed in Japan, where he established himself as a writer and took part in anarchist political circles. Deported from Japan in 1921 due to his political activities, he spent a few years in China, where he became a media celebrity, and even lived in the house of Lu Xun (1881-1936), the standard bearer of modern Chinese literature. Eroshenko wrote many children's stories, either in Japanese or Esperanto. Both his life story and stories became prominent in China's New Culture Movement, and he was extensively covered in Chinese print media. Moreover, his close association with Lu Xun cemented his place during a crucial moment of cultural renewal in China.

This paper will explore two prominent themes of Eroshenko's work: his interest in dreams and animals. While the two rarely intersect in direct fashion, their close proximity to each other bespeaks a crucial speculative dimension to Eroshenko's prose, which was recognized by Lu Xun as having value in an age of critical and moral enlightenment. Eroshenko's pioneering work in children's literature resonated with the pedagogical revolution taking place in China. As an author whose persona was notably marked by his blindness, his parables steeped in the themes of dreams and animals reinforced unconventional ways of seeing the human condition that could, in Lu Xun's words, reveal to his readers a deeper sense of reality. By contextualizing Eroshenko's life and work in the context of the Chinese 1920s, I hope to suggest a more expansive panorama of a transnational, translingual, and even transhuman vision of Chinese cultural modernity, replete with speculative possibilities that were perhaps prematurely foreclosed.


The speaker:

Roy Bing Chan received his Ph.D. (2009) in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and also holds a B.A. (2002) in Russian and Comparative Literature from the University of Washington. Prior to coming to Oregon, he taught at the College of William and Mary, and was a Harvard University Fairbank Center An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Studies. His book, The Edge of Knowing: Dreams, History, and Realism in Modern Chinese Literature (University of Washington Press, 2017), examines the rhetoric of dreams and reality and its relationship to issues of literature, modernity, and revolutionary utopianism in modern Chinese fiction. He is currently completing a second monograph that explores modern Chinese literature's speculative relationship to Russia and the world. He is preparing a third monograph project on law and the perennial crisis of normativity in modern Chinese-speaking cultures. Research interests include modern literature, realism, narrative, the imperial imagination, and popular culture, among others. Theoretical concerns include Marxism, post-Hegelian philosophy, gender and sexuality, formalism, and sociolinguistics. 

  • "Dreaming as Representation: Wild Grass and Realism's Responsibility." Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese 11 no. 2 (2014): 13-38.
  • The Edge of Knowing: Dreams, History, and Realism in Modern Chinese Literature. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017.

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Bronwen Neil (Macquarie University):



Status Anxiety and the Animal Kingdom in Byzantine Dreambooks

In the ancient Greco-Roman world, dreambooks reflected the concerns, desires and anxieties of ordinary men and women. The amorality of the practice of dream interpretation in pre-Christian dreambooks like the Oneirocriticon of Artemidorus of Daldis – especially on matters of human sexuality – made them problematic for Christians; nevertheless, their popularity continued unabated into the middle Byzantine and medieval Islamic periods. The evident ambivalence towards treating dreams as divinatory in Jewish and Christian sources gives rise to a significant question: how did anxiety over status influence the Byzantine interpretation of dreams featuring animals and birds? This paper seeks to answer that question by comparing Byzantine Greek dreambooks with Artemidorus’ Oneirocriticon, their pagan model. Far from being a simple association of certain animals with certain human characteristics, the Byzantine oneirocritical tradition emerges as a complex psychological strategy for dealing with very changeable destinies and a high degree of social mobility from multiple perspectives.


The speaker:

Bronwen Neil is Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Sydney, in the Department of History and Archaeology, and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at the University of South Africa. She is an elected Fellow and past Council member of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and former president of the Australian Association of Byzantine Studies. She holds a Master of Arts in Theological Research from Durham University (1998) and a doctorate of philosophy from Australian Catholic University (2000). In 2019 she completed a Future Fellowship project on Dreams, Prophecy and Violence from Early Christianity to Early Islam, funded by the Australian Research Council (sole investigator 2014-2019). She is the co-author of Dreams, Divine Knowledge and Virtue in Early Christian Egypt (Cambridge, 2019), with D. Costache and K. Wagner, and author of Dreams and Divination from Byzantium to Baghdad, 400-1000 CE (Oxford, 2021).


Link to her new book: Dreams and Divination from Byzantium to Baghdad, 400-1000 CE (Order online at www.oup.com/academic with promo code AAFLYG6 to save 30%)

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Susanne Goumegou (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen):


Von Löwen, Elefanten und Schlangen: Tiersymbolik in der Traumliteratur der frühen Neuzeit

Der Vortrag fragt nach der Tiersymbolik in Traumwissen und Traumdarstellung der frühen Neuzeit und legt dabei einen Schwerpunkt auf das Auftreten von wilden Tieren. Analysiert werden einschlägige Traktate zum Traum (Cardano, Dupleix), zur Dämonologie (Le Loyer, Wier) sowie Erzählungen von Tierträumen in unterschiedlichen Textgattungen (z. B. Tragödie, Pastorale, Gelegenheitsprosa). Der Vortrag will zeigen, in welchem Zusammenhang das Auftreten unterschiedlich semantisierter Tiere mit den jeweiligen Vorannahmen traumtheoretischer Art und den Konventionen der unterschiedlichen Gattungen steht.


The speaker:

Susanne Goumegou, seit 2015 Professorin für Romanische Philologie, insbesondere Französische und Italienische Literatur an der Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, seit 2019 Leiterin des Teilprojekts C06 „Augentrug, Traum und Täuschung – Der dämonische Ursprung der Illusion“ (zusammen mit Jörg Robert) im Tübinger SFB 1391 „Andere Ästhetik“. Promotion zu Traumtext und Traumdiskurs. Nerval, Breton, Leiris (2007), Habilitation zu Fiktion und Täuschung in der italienischen Renaissance (Bochum 2015), zahlreiche Arbeiten zu Traum und Illusion.

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Ann-Kristin Fenske (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen):


Dämonische Illusionen in den tragi-comédies pastorales am Beispiel von Aves’ Philistée (1627)

Dämonologische Traktate der frühen Neuzeit deuten Tierfiguren wie wilde Löwen, Panther und Bären unter Rückgriff auf biblisch-symbolisches und antikes Wissen, das diese mit dem Teufel oder mit Göttern assoziiert und in der Schilderung von Alpträumen vorführt. Solche Wissenstraditionen lassen sich auch in den französischen tragi-comédies pastorales finden, in denen Magier*innen Illusionen auf der Bühne erzeugen. Beispielhaft zeigt sich dies in Sieur d’Aves` „Philistée“ (1627): Im Zauber des Magiers Demonax, der als figura poeta des frühen illusionistischen Theaters fungiert, tragen Panther zum emotional aufgeladenen Spektakel bei und stellen die kulturell codierte alptraumhafte Illusion dem Zuschauer vor Augen. Das zügellos Dionysische der Schäferfiguren im Stück findet hier seine ästhetische Untermalung in Kämpfen mit wilden, gefährlichen Tieren.


The speaker:

Ann-Kristin Fenske, M.A. (Deutsch-Französische Studien [Bonn/Paris]), seit September 2019 Projektmitarbeiterin in Teilprojekt C06 „Augentrug, Traum und Täuschung – Der dämonische Ursprung der Illusion“ des SFB 1391 „Andere Ästhetik“.

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Elena Agazzi (Università degli Studi di Bergamo):


Krügers Träume (1754): Moralische Überlegungen zwischen menschlicher und tierischer Welt

Der Arzt Johann Gottlob Krüger (1715-1759) veröffentlichte 1754 (hier wird die II von 1758 verwendet) eine große Sammlung von Texten verschiedener Art (Dialoge, Visionen, exotische Darstellungen, wissenschaftliche Streitigkeiten) mit dem Titel Träume. Durch die Verwendung von traumhaften Visionen, welche Fiktionen sind hatte er vor, aktuelle Theorien im medizinischen, naturalistischen und philosophischen Bereich zu unterstützen oder zu untergraben. Als Anhänger von Stahl und entschlossener Gegner des Cartesianismus und der leibnizschen festgelegten Harmonie inszeniert Krüger Tiere in vielen dieser Texte. In den Träumen 114-126 und 133 können wir eine Reflexion über die "vernünftige Seele" von Tieren einfangen, die wahrscheinlich durch die Lektüre der Abhandlungen von der Seele des Menschen, der Thiere und Pflanzen (1721) von Michael Alberti ausgelöst wurde; 159 steht der „freie Wille“ zwischen der tierischen und der menschlichen Welt im Zentrum, 149 ist von den Vorzügen des taxonomischen Systems von Linnaeus die Rede. Die menschliche Welt ist gegenüber der tierischen immer in ihrer Verderbtheit ausgesetzt. Krüger kann also mit dem Finger auf Kriege, Kolonialismus, religiösen Fanatismus zeigen. Ziel dieses Beitrags ist es, die der Repräsentation der Tierwelt zugrunde liegenden Theorien herauszustellen und in diesem Zusammenhang auch die Fragen zu klären, die sich Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts aus der Beziehung zwischen Leib-Seele und Gesellschaft und Moral ergeben.


The speaker:

Elena Agazzi. Studium der Philosophie und Germanistik in Pavia (Italien). Seit 1992 ist sie Professorin für Neuere deutsche Literatur an der Universität Bergamo. Humboldt Fellow und Gastprofessorin in verschiedenen Universitäten in Deutschland. Präsidentin des italienischen Germanistenverbandes 2016-2019, Mitglied des Internationalen Vorstands der IVG 2015-2021, Vollmitglied der Accademia di Scienze e di Lettere di Brera (Mailand), Mitglied des wissenschaftlichen Beirats der Zeitschriften COMPARATIO, MONATSHEFTE, LINKS, ARBITRIUM, GERMANISTIK, L’ANALISI LINGUISTICO-LETTERARIA, TRAME. Co-Editor mit Vita Fortunati von der Reihe "Interfacing Science, Literature and the Humanities" di Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Uni-Press (Göttingen). Partnerin des “PhDnet - Literary and Cultural Studies” zu dem die Justus-Liebig-Universität (JLU).

Forschungsschwerpunkte: Die deutsche Klassik und Romantik und die deutsche literarische Kultur des 20. Jahrhunderts, europäische Aufklärung, literarische Avantgarde, Gedächtniskultur nach 1945. U. a. befasst sie sich mit Themen an der Schwelle zwischen den bildenden Künsten und Literatur und zwischen Naturwissenschaft und Literatur.

Zur Tierwelt:

  • „Mass der Dinge und Weltvermessung zwischen Forschungsreisen und literarischem Werk. W.G. Sebald, Konrad Bayer und Daniel Kehlmann“, in: Larissa Polubojarinova, Marion Kobelt-Groch, Olga Kulishkina (a cura di), Phänomenologie, Geschichte und Anthropologie des Reisens. Internationales interdisziplinäres Alexander-von-Humboldt Kolleg in Sankt Petersburg 16.-19. April 2013, Kiel, Solivagus 2015, pp. 67-79
  • „Teratologische Leidenschaft bei Jean Paul. Dr. Katzenberger im historischen Kontext“, in: von Engelhardt, Dietrich (Hg.), Medizin in der Literatur der Neuzeit, Bd. IV: Wissenschaftliche Studien, Mattes Verlag, Heidelberg 2018, pp. 292-302
  • „Tra Postmodernismo e nuova drammaturgia. L’‘eclettismo formale‘ di Roland Schimmelpfennig“. Postfazione a Ronald Schimmelpfennig, Il regno degli animali. Traduzione italiana e cura di Valentina Gianola. Introduzione di Raul Calzoni, Postfazione di Elena Agazzi, Mimesis, Milano 2018, pp. 131-137.

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Iris Schäfer (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main):


Von Traumtieren und Gedankenpferden: Erträumte Tierfiguren als Initiatoren, Gefährten und Vehikel kinderliterarischer Traumreisen

Tierfiguren bevölkern in beträchtlicher zoologischer Varietät kinderliterarische Traum-szenarien. Zuweilen initiieren sie fantastische Traumreisen und markieren durch ihre Präsenz die Schwelle von Wachzustand (erwachsener Ratio) und Traumzustand (kindlicher Fantasie), wie etwa das Kaninchen und die Katzen, die Lewis Carrolls Alice in ihre Tagträume gleiten lassen, oder die plötzlich auftauchenden Mäuse, die den Beginn von Marie Stahlbaums Fieber-traum in E.T.A. Hoffmanns Nußknacker und Mausekönig signalisieren. Je abenteuerlicher die Traumreise, desto archaischer fällt die mythische Provenienz der Tierwesen aus, die den kind-lichen Figuren als Gefährten auf oder Vehikel für ihre Traumreisen dienen. In meinem Beitrag werde ich Schlaglichter auf die Eigenheiten erträumter Tierfiguren in der europäischen Kinder-literatur werfen, und zwar in ihren Funktionen als Initiatoren, Begleiter bzw. Mentoren und Vehikel träumender Figuren. Der Fokus wird zudem darauf gerichtet werden, welche animistischen, epochenspezifischen, regionalen Vorstellungen präsent sind und wo die literatur-historischen Wurzeln der jeweiligen Darstellung zu verorten sind.


1. Erträumte Tierfiguren als Initiatoren kinderliterarischer Traumreisen:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (England), Nußknacker und Mausekönig (Deutschland)

2. Erträumte Tierfiguren als Begleiter (Mentor/en) kinderliterarischer Traumreisen:

Rosabella im Traum der Schmetterlinge (Spanien), Der Kleine Prinz (Frankreich)

3. Erträumte Tierfiguren als Vehikel kinderliterarischer Traumreisen:

Peterchens Mondfahrt (Deutschland), Auf dem Flügelpferde durch die Zeiten (Deutschland), Das Nachttier (Österreich), Das Tier mit den Funkelaugen (Tschechien)


The speaker:

Dr. Iris Schäfer ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Jugendbuchforschung der Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main. Sie hat Komparatistik und Germanistik in Frankfurt und London studiert. Promotion im Jahr 2015 (Von der Hysterie zur Magersucht. Adoleszenz und Krankheit in Romanen und Erzählungen der Jahrhundert- und der Jahrtausendwende) Forschungsschwerpunkt: psychoanalytische Zugänge zu Kinder- und Jugendmedien.

Jüngste Publikationen:

  • „Vom prophetischen Traum zum krankheitsbedingten Delirium. Neue Inszenierungen kaum beachteter Traumtypen in der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur“, in: Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Kinder- und Jugendbuchforschung, hrsg. von Gabriele von Glasenapp u. a., 2020, Open Access. Link: http://www.gkjf.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Jahrbuch_GKJF_2020_S25-36_B2d_Schaefer_1207.pdf
  • „The Nightmare in the Golden Age of Children’s Literature“, in: Typologizing the Dream, hrsg. von Bernhard Dieterle und Manfred Engel, Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann 2021 [im Druck].
  • „Von erinnerten Träumen und traumhaften Erinnerungen – Form, Funktion und Interpretation der Kategorie des Traumnotats“, in: Erinnerungskulturen in der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur, hrsg. von Ute Dettmar u. a., Stuttgart: Metzler 2021 [im Druck].

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Sophia Mehrbrey (Universität des Saarlandes):


Seeing Pink Elephants – ein Traummotiv im Zeichentrick

Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts etabliert sich das Motiv der Rosa Elefanten als Metapher eines von Wahnvorstellungen geprägten, stark alkoholisierten Zustands. Zwei kurz hintereinander produzierte Zeichentrickfilme – Pink Elephants (1937) und Dumbo (1941) – nutzen diese als Inspirationsquelle für die Darstellung eines traumnahen Deliriums. Diese Verschiebung von der alkoholisierten Halluzination zu einer unter Alkoholeinfluss erlebten Traumerfahrung lässt sich unter anderem durch die Aufbereitung der Thematik für ein kindliches Publikum erklären.

Auf der inhaltlichen Ebene stellt sich, vor allem in Hinblick auf kindliche Rezipient*innen, die Frage, wie das Tier eingesetzt wird, um Alterität zu inszenieren – besonders in Dumbo, wo der Protagonist einerseits Kind, andererseits selbst ein Elefant ist. Beide Filme liefern diesbezüglich interessante Ansätze zur Thematisierung tiefenpsychologischer Phänomene, wie der Dekonstruktion des Selbst oder dem Infragestellen seiner Kontinuität.

Darüber hinaus scheint es interessant zu untersuchen, inwiefern die wörtliche Umsetzung der Metapher, aufbauend auf den neuen ästhetischen Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten, die der Trickfilm bietet, eine innovative Darstellung des Traumzustands ermöglicht. Dabei gilt es insbesondere die Ambivalenz zwischen Traum und Wahn, sowie die Abgrenzung vom Wachzustand zu betrachten. Auf der Metaebene spielen beide Werke mit den Möglichkeiten des Trickfilms und bieten so, über die Inszenierung des Traums, Reflexionsanstöße zu den Mechanismen kinematographischer Fiktion.


The speaker:

Sophia Mehrbrey schloss 2012 einen Bachelor in European Studies an der Universität Passau ab. Nach einem Master an der Universität Rouen im Fachbereich Lettres Modernes mit einer Arbeit zur Darstellung Russlands in französischen Schriften des 18. Jahrhunderts trat sie dort 2014 eine Stelle als wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin an. 2019 wurde sie bei Prof. Dr. Claudine Poulouin promoviert (Titel der Arbeit: Figures d’enfance – la représentation de l’enfant dans la littérature française des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles).

Seit Oktober 2019 ist sie im Graduiertenkolleg »Europäische Traumkulturen« mit einem Postdoc-Projekt zur ästhetischen Darstellung kindlicher Traumwelten beschäftigt.

Publikationen in Zusammenhang mit dem Vortragsthema:

  • Un voyage formateur ? Le rôle de l’imagination et du rêve chez A. Lindgren et M. Ende. In: Strenæ [online], 17/2021. URL: https://journals.openedition.org/strenae/.
  • Le rayonnement de la nuit – la symbolique du bleu dans l’album pour enfants. In: Angelica Rieger und Liane Ströber (Hg.): Le Pouvoir du bleu. Aachener Romanistische Arbeiten (in Vorbereitung).
  • Sinneswahrnehmung als Leitmotiv traumhaften Erzählens in der Kinderliteratur des frühen 20. Jahrhunderts. In: Sophia Mehrbrey, Stephanie Catani, Träumen mit allen Sinnen. Sinnliche Wahrnehmungen in ästhetischen Traumdarstellungen, München Fink Verlag (Im Druck).


Forthcoming book: Träumen mit allen Sinnen

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Sofia Duarte (Universidad de Valencia):


Cats as the Voice of Reason in Children’s Dreams: Coraline (2002) by Neil Gaiman

Dreams are possibly one of humanity's greatest enigmas, perhaps because of the mystery that surrounds them they have been a recurring theme in literature, especially those involving animals. A children’s book that deals with dreamlike worlds and animals is Coraline (2002) by Neil Gaiman. It narrates the story of Coraline, a young and misunderstood girl, who is dispirited with her reality and appears in an alternative world where everything seems idyllic at first glance and talking animals are something natural. I argue that in this novel the protagonist enters this reality through her dreams and is accompanied by a cat who functions as the voice of wisdom in this irrational world due to the cultural perceptions that surround the figure of the cat. The cat’s namelessness yet indubitable sentience, which might suggest a resistance to the logocentric domination of animals in the Christian tradition, runs parallel to the historically established cultural perceptions of felines, which often include their portrayal as magical creatures that cryptically assist other characters and that appear and disappear at will. As such, they hold an idiosyncratic position in the articulation and interpretation of dreams.


The speaker:

Sofia Duarte is a PhD candidate in the Doctoral Programme in Language, Literature and Culture, and its Applications in the University of Valencia, Spain. Her research revolves around the interdisciplinary field of Animal Studies, a critical framework that in her PhD thesis she is applying for the interpretation of Margaret Atwood’s works and the presence of nonhuman animals in them. Accordingly, Speculative and Dystopian Fiction as well as Posthumanism and Ecofeminism are part of her research interests. Furthermore, having worked on the portrayal of animals in the X-Men in her Master’s thesis, Comic Studies is also an important part of her research line.

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Claude Fretz (Sun Yat-sen University):


Dream Animals and Animal Dreams in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This paper will examine the intertwining of dreams and animal imagery in Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It will discuss how Shakespeare marshalled folkloric, religious, and classical precepts of animal dreams in order to enrich his strategies of character representation. Shakespeare was fortunate to be able to draw on a rich classical tradition of representing humans as animals and of depicting human-animal transformations. Specifically, he found countless models of human-animal transformations in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. But many of these classical precedents do not treat animals as independent entities; rather, they use animal images to shed light on aspects of humanity, whether it be as cunning disguises, as punitive transformations, or as amplifiers of human animality. Drawing on some of Shakespeare’s likely sources and influences, the paper will explore how A Midsummer Night’s Dream turns human-animal comparisons and dream worlds into a comedic commentary on the behaviours of its human characters.


The speaker:

Claude Fretz is Associate Professor of Shakespeare and early modern literature at Sun Yat-sen University (China). He is also Fellow of the research centre ‘European Dream-Cultures’ at Saarland University (Germany), which is funded by the German research foundation (DFG), and honorary Visiting Scholar at Queen’s University Belfast (UK). His PhD is from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham (UK). Claude is the author of Dreams, Sleep, and Shakespeare’s Genres (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), a monograph which explores how Shakespeare uses images of dreams and sleep to define his dramatic worlds. This book surveys Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, histories, and late plays, and it argues that Shakespeare systematically exploits early modern physiological, religious, and political understandings of dreams and sleep in order to reshape conventions of dramatic genre and to experiment with dream-inspired plots. In addition to this book, Claude has authored various articles and book chapters on Shakespeare, representations of dreams and sleep in Renaissance literature, and Restoration drama. He is also a co-editor of a forthcoming book entitled Performing Restoration Shakespeare. This book arises from the international and interdisciplinary research project ‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’, funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, which investigated how Restoration adaptations of Shakespeare used to be performed and how they can be performed for audiences today. As part of this project, Claude co-organised and contributed to scholar-artist workshops at Shakespeare’s Globe in London and acted as one of the scholar-consultants for a fully sold-out professional production of Davenant's Macbeth at the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C.


Link to his new book: Dreams, Sleep, and Shakespeare’s Genres

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Boria Sax (Mercy College, New York):


Birds, Dreams, and Prophecy

At least until the Early Modern Era, dreams were not understood as uninhibited fantasy. They were not expressions of transcendence, as among the romantics, nor wish fulfillments, as in the work of Freud. Just as there were no sharp divisions between deities, humans, and animals, there was also none between dream and reality, and today the works of authors such as Hesiod and Homer seem dreamlike to us. In Greece and Rome, the two major ways of knowing the will of deities were dreams and the flight of birds. Both had the role of mediating between the immortals and human beings. Many figures of myth and legend such as Tiresias, Melampous, and some heroes of fairy tales learn the language of birds, which gives them gifts of divination, suggesting that birds are not simply passive vehicles of supernatural wisdom. The role of birds as mediators continues in Christianity, where the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove and consistently appears in moments of destiny such as the baptism of Christ. It continues today in birdwatching, which began with the Victorian craze for natural history and has foundations in natural theology.


The speaker:

Boria Sax teaches in the graduate literature program at Mercy College and at Sing Sing prison. He is probably best known for his writing on human-animal relations, where he has developed a style that combines scholarship with narrative and lyricism. He views the representation of animals in human culture as a means to explore human identity, as well as an enduring source of myths and legends. The publications of Boria Sax include books of scholarship, poetry, reference, translation, memoirs, and other genres. His previous books include Animals in the Third ReichImaginary Animals: The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human, and Dinomania: Why We Love, Fear, and Are Utterly Enchanted by Dinosaurs. His books have been translated into French, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, and Czech.


Link to his new book Avian Illuminations: A Cultural History of Birds (To claim 20% off when you order, please visit www.reaktionbooks.co.uk and enter code AVIAN21 at the checkout)

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Maki Eguchi (University of Tsukuba):


Counting Sheep: The Contextualization of “Dreaming of Sheep” in Japanese Culture

Counting sheep is a practice wherein one imagines sheep and counts them, as a way of getting to sleep. Associations between “sheep” and “sleep” derive from their similarity of the sounds (at least in English) and the typical pastoral image of sheep. This practice is seen in Japanese culture, too—including in literature and cartoons—despite circumstantial differences between English and Japanese sheep-farming, not to mention language differences. This study summarizes references to the counting of sheep; it also touches upon how this practice was introduced to Japan and its social background.

As sheep are not indigenous to Japan, there were almost no sheep in Japan until the late 19th century. Although the Japanese government began to import sheep for woolen military uniforms, they remain a rarity in Japan. The image of sheep in Japan reflects that learned from other countries, and aligns with those countries’ political and economic influence. This study takes up Haruki Murakami’s novels that contextualize the image of counting sheep. In Wild Sheep Chase (1982) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1992–1995), dreaming about and counting sheep are described while bearing in mind the history of sheep in Japan and colonialist implications.


The speaker:

Maki Eguchi is an assistant professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. After working as a Fulbright foreign language teaching assistant at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, United States, she received her PhD in Literature from the University of Tsukuba in 2016. Her research interests lie in representations of animals in literature and animal studies. Her recent publications include The Semiotics of Animal Representations (Rodopi, 2014) and The Representation of Sheep in Modern Japanese Literature: From Sōseki Natsume to Haruki Murakami (Sairyusha, 2018). She is also engaged in developing international exchange programs at Tsukuba university.

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Arbaayah Ali Termizi (Universiti Putra Malaysia):


Fatal End to an Animalistic Dream: A Reading of a Traditional Malay Children Folktale

Across cultures, the dream of animals often suggests a philosophical interpretation of an incident.  For example, according to traditional Malay belief, if a virgin dreams of a snake, it foresees an impending marriage proposal. Thus, a dream of this venomous reptile becomes a bearer of good news for the girl or vice versa.   In this paper, the visionary dream of a folkloric character will be discussed.  Dreams of a naïve village boy, Mat Jenin, a character popularized by a traditional Malay children folktale are often taken as him, imagining unattainable feats.  Unlike the maiden’s poisonous snake dream mentioned earlier, the images in Mat Jenin’s dream are of farm animals, appearing as his symbolic hallucination of a better life.  To further argue the significance of this animalistic dream, this paper will rely heavily on two archaic manuscripts which are Tajul Muluk, a book that prescribed the rites of the late 16th century Malay geomancy, and Tafsir Mimpi (Dream Interpretation), a manual written by 8th-century Muslim mystic/interpreter of dreams, Ibnu Sirin. This point will then be linked to the Malay cultural interpretation of Mat Jenin’s dream and how the dream causes the character’s fatal end in the story.


The speaker:

Arbaayah Ali Termizi is Associate Professor at the Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Her interest lies within the areas of histories, arts, and cultures, specializing in Shakespeare’s plays and theatre in general. To date she has published 3 books which are Anthony and Cleopatra in the Eighteenth Century: Critical Observation of Shakespeare’s Tragedy (2010) followed by A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Shakespeare Appropriated in 60 Minutes (2013) and Theatre for Life Workshop: Perspectives and Reflections (2020).  Currently she heads a project which focuses on intercultural trend in Malaysian narratives on Shakespeare’s works.  She has written journal articles and presented in conferences on similar theme for the past 10 years.

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Wojciech Owczarski (University of Gdańsk):


How People in Poland Dream about Animals: Real Life and Literature

The aim of this presentation will be to investigate the animal motifs in the dreams of Poles, both in their real life and in some examples of contemporary Polish literature. In 2017, I established the so-called Polish dream content norms, based on a 300 person representative sample of adult Poles. In this dream set, animals show up significantly more often than in the American norms (determined by Hall and Van de Castle in 1966). I will describe a variety of animal species in the Poles’ dreams, the contexts in which they appear, and the possible functions they have. I will try to decide whether – and to what extent – the characteristics of those dreams are culturally conditioned. I will also juxtapose my findings and reflections with dreams about animals that can be found in literary works. For some fifteen years we have been observing an interesting phenomenon in Polish literature – books consisted solely of the author’s dream reports, without any comments or explanations. The reader cannot be sure whether the dreams are authentic or made up, and the very uncertainty makes these works especially intriguing. I will discuss the similarities and differences between the real and literary dreams about animals.


The speaker:

Prof. dr. hab. Wojciech Owczarski: Researcher and academic teacher at the University of Gdańsk, Department of Languages. Head of the Research Unit for Dream, Memory and Imagination Studies. His interdisciplinary research interests include literature, dream studies, theatre studies, and cultural anthropology.

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Rose Hsiu-li Juan (Chung Hsing University):


Animal Dreams: Native American Dream World and Louise Erdrich’s Two Works

Even though dreams and animals take up significant roles in Native American traditional life, there have been few studies about the intersection of the two. Ergo this paper takes the initiative to explore animal dreams in Native American literature. It will first specify the importance of animals and dreams in Native American tradition and relate them to the complexity of Native American minds. Gregory Cajete’s reference to indigenous “natural democracy” and “effective citizen” will be cited to communicate Native American cosmology and the way of indigenous education to the non-native. It will then adumbrate instances in myths, legends, and stories such as spider woman and vision quests, in novels such as Thomas King’s coyote in Green Grass, Running Water, and in the film Dreamkeeper to build up a common ground of animal dream study. For a more detailed exposition, the paper delves into the dream presentations of the bear and the skunk in Louise Erdrich’s The Birchbark House and The Bingo Palace. In terms of new/radical animism, Native American animal dreams afford an inclusive way of living in the world.


The speaker:

Rose Hsiu-li Juan is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Chung Hsing University, Taichung. Her academic service includes Board Member of English and American Literature Association in Taiwan and Board Member of The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment in Taiwan (ASLE-TW). She was the Deputy Dean of the College of Liberal Arts (NCHU), Director of the Humanities Center (NCHU), and chairperson of DFLL. Her research interests include indigenous literature and culture, Native North American literature, ecocriticism, multiculturalism, and cross-cultural communication. Her publications appear in Chung-Wai Literary Quarterly, Review of English and American Literature, volumes of selected papers of ICLA Congress, and as book chapters in the book series of the research group of Dream Culture, Mapping Native North American Literatures: Reflections on Multiculturalism (Taiwan, coeditor with Hsinya Huang), An Introduction to Ecoliterature (Taiwan), and Ecocriticism in Taiwan: Identity, Environment, and the Arts (Lexington Books). Her creative writings won literary prizes and appeared in prose selections of the year.

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Susan Pyke (University of Melbourne):

Novel Horse Dreams

My commitment to multispecies justice generates this paper. Drawing on my scholarly work in animal literary studies, work that feeds directly into my creative writing practice, I outline the ethical questions at play in my writing of a horse that dreams. My burgeoning efforts and ensuing hesitations are not new. Novelists have long been working on ways to write the dreams of their nonhuman fellow creatures. Susan McHugh, a helpful voice in literary animal studies, suggests fictional representations of nonhuman animal consciousnesses work best when based on ethological knowledge (2011). My creative work must begin with the work of watching a dreaming horse. The quiver of ears, the activity of the muzzle, the busy shifting legs. I feel the dream. However, as animal studies philosopher Lori Gruen points out, while empathy has a role to play in bridging knowledge and imagination, human stories of animals, be they awake or asleep, will always be limited by human minds (2015). My novel’s dreaming horse will be contained by the fact that novelistic horse dreams can only be told in human ways to human audiences. My work is to interrogate the ethics of my speculations that drive this aspect of my speculative novel.


The speaker:

Sue writes lyrical memoir, fiction, poetry and critical analysis. She teaches with the University of Melbourne in both creative writing and Indigenous studies. Her most recent essay is the blue case, published in Text Journal and her monograph, Animal Visions: Posthumanist Dream Writing, was published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2019. Details on this and Sue’s other publications can be found at https://unimelb.academia.edu/SusanPyke. Sue is a committee member for the Australasian Animal Studies Association, and part of the editorial collective for Swamphen, the scholarly journal for ASLEC-ANZ (the Association for the Study of Literature, Environment and Culture, Australia and New Zealand). She sometimes twitters @suehallpyke, often Instagrams at @suzimez and very occasionally blogs, mainly about books, at suehallpyke.com

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