Call for papers

Dream Cultures: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

(The call for papers for the conference Dream Cultures: Multidisciplinary Perspectives is now closed)

A Conference at the University of Helsinki, 19-20 September 2019

University Banquet Rooms, Unioninkatu 33

We humans spend one third of our lives sleeping, but academic research so far has tended to prioritise the various activities people engage in when they are awake. In this conference, we want to focus instead on the culture of dreams and dreaming in any geographical location or historical period. We welcome contributions from different disciplines and value both empirical analyses and theoretical, conceptual or methodological approaches to the study of dreams.

Studies of sleep and dreaming within psychology and medicine have shown that peaceful, energising sleep is vital for personal wellbeing and for public health, but dreams can also have a significant role in the cultural life of different periods and locations. Moreover, agonising, tormenting dreams that cause strong negative emotional responses – nightmares or bad dreams – are often connected to conditions that prevail in the dreamers’ societal and cultural world. Dreaming has often been seen as a universal phenomenon, but dream narratives, meanings given to dreams and even the content of dreams are culturally and historically contingent.

Dream Cultures will offer a multidisciplinary arena for discussing how dreams and nightmares have been understood and conceptualized in various historical and cultural contexts. We welcome papers including, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • history of dreams and nightmares
  • cultural meanings of dreams and nightmares
  • dreams and society
  • gender and dreaming
  • dreams, emotions and affects
  • dreams as communication
  • representations of dreams in art and popular culture
  • history of dream theories
  • vernacular understandings of dreams
  • religious meanings of dreams
  • theoretical and methodological approaches to dreams
  • sources for the study of dreams.

The conference is organized by the project Northern Nightmares, ca. 1400-2020 and the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, in collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Swedish Literature Society in Finland (Svenska Litteratursällskapet i Finland).

Confirmed keynote lecturers are:

  • Professor Catharina Raudvere, University of Copenhagen
  • Professor Alessandro Arcangeli, University of Verona

Those who wish to present a paper in the conference are kindly requested to send an abstract of no more than 500 words (in .rtf, .docx or .pdf format) to by May 15, 2019. Please send with the abstract your name, affiliation, contact information and field of specialization. Notices of acceptance will be sent by June 15, 2019.

Further information about the conference, social programme, travel and accommodation in Helsinki is available on this web page.