Dr. Michaela Schrage-Früh
English Literature and linguistics, Mainz/Galway

Contact Details

Dr. Michaela Schrage-Früh
National University of Ireland, Galway
German Studies
Arts Millennium Building
Galway, Ireland

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Homepage: https://www.nuigalway.ie

Biographical Note

Michaela Schrage-Früh is lecturer in German at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland and lecturer in English Literature at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany. She holds a doctorate in English Literature from Mainz University. Her recent monograph is Philosophy, Dreaming and the Literary Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and her current book project focuses on the nightmare in English literature and culture from the early modern period to the present.

Imagination and the authorship of dreams in the Victorian dream discourse

Victorian psychologists and writers on popular dream science shared the central aim of offering scientific explanations for the imaginative potential of dreams as well as for the puzzle of dream-authorship, i.e. the puzzle why dreams are often like carefully crafted, more or less coherent stories even though they are not consciously created by the dreamer. Naturalistic explanations for this phenomenon competed with and were supposed to be clearly delineated from popular paranormal and mystical concepts of inspiration. My project explores some of the contrasting ideas articulated by authors such as Frances Power Cobbe, James Sully, Frederick Greenwood, and Havelock Ellis all of whom seek to find scientific and rational explanations for the poetic and imaginative manifestation of dreams. While their approaches were clearly demarcated from nineteenth-century occultism, they at the same time pinpointed the shortcomings of purely physiological explanations. Arguably, by viewing dreams as the dreamer's creation, even though they tend to exceed the dreamer's waking imagination as well as to elude conscious control, these authors facilitated new insights into creative and artistic processes as well as into the complexity of the human mind.