Prof. Dr. Martin von Koppenfels
Comparative Literature Studies, Munich

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Prof. Dr. Martin von Koppenfels
Institute of Comparative Literature Studies
University of Munich

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Biographical note

Martin von Koppenfels holds the chair of comparative literature (with a focus on romance languages) at the LMU Munich since 2010. Since 2009 he is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. In 2009 he received the Anna-Krüger-award of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin for his book Immune Erzähler. Flaubert und die Affektpolitik des modernen Romans (2007). From 2003 to 2008 he directed the research cluster “Rhetorik der Immunität“ at the Peter-Szondi-Institute of the FU Berlin. Major research interests are the connection of emotion and narrative research, the relationships between texts and readers, literature and psychoanalysis, dream and text. Currently he is a member the LMU excellency programme on the poetics of the nightmare.

The nightmare problem in Freud’s dream theory and other early psychoanalytic writings

Whether dreams play a part in emotion regulation or not is a hotly debated issue in current psychological dream research. Freud, in his Interpetation of Dreams (1900), treated this question somewhat ambiguously. In theory he sidelined what he called the "affectivity of dreams“, but in his actual dream interpretations he dropped a number of fascinating hints highly relevant to the issue. At the center of the discussion the problem of nightmares or anxiety dreams looms large. This type of dream poses a challenge to Freudian dream theory, which the founder of psychoanalysis tried to meet in a series of suppelements to his Interpretation of Dreams. On the other hand, anxiety dreams appears at crucial points of his theoretical development (e.g. in Beyond the Pleasure Principle); not to mention the fact that various of his central dream specimens (dreams that have made history as, for example, the so-called "wolf dream“) are nightmares in the strict sense of the term. In my project I aim to reconstruct this important strand in the history of dream research and look at it from the vantage point of later psychological and analytical developments. I will also work with texts from Freud’s immediate surroundings, as for example Ernest Jones’ investigations into the mythology and ethnology of the nightmare (On the Nightmare, 1931).