Threshold Worlds

Project Summary

An Interdisciplinary Project on Dreams, Narrative and Liminal Cognition

Cognitive research on dreams has experienced a new wave of interest in recent years. The increasing amount of phenomenological and neuroscientific data about dreaming, however, is provoking a number of questions about the experiential qualities of dreams and the potential insights they might disclose for larger issues such as consciousness, the self, social cognition, and our relationship with reality. How does our enactive and cognitive experience of reality permeate into dreams and vice-versa? What makes dreams immersive and world-like experiences? How can dreams inform, and be informed by, models of imaginary or hallucinatory liminal states? What is the specific narrative texture (or lack of narrativity) in dreams?

Such questions call for an interdisciplinary investigation, whereby multiple methodologies are combined to chart more systematically the landscape of dream-worlds. This includes co-constructing exploratory models which will guide experimental designs and phenomenological enquiries, as well as the interpretation of existing data from dream reports. A key part of this endeavour is to understand the relationships between dreams and other imaginary ontologies, such as hallucinatory experiences and narrative story-worlds. We propose to bring together cognitive scientists, psychiatrists, narratologists, dream cartographers, and artists, to work towards a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary account of dreaming.

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Term: Michaelmas 2020

Project Fellows

Principal Investigator: Dr Marco Bernini (English Studies)
Principal Investigator: Dr Ben Alderson-Day (Psychology)

University of York

Richard Walsh is a narratologist and founder/director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Narrative Studies at the University of York.

International Archive of Dreams

Lucie Treacher is a performer and artist, and founder/director of the International Archive of Dreams in London. The archive, funded by Arts Council England, is the first research-led online archive of dreams where an interdisciplinary team of psychologists and visual designers are coding, representing and exploring dream-worlds.

Dr Armando D’Agostino is a consultant psychiatrist and internationally-recognised expert in sleep and dreaming in psychiatric disorders. His research spans disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder, and combines methods from functional neuroimaging, psychopharmocology, and descriptive psychopathology.
UC Santa Barbara

Sowon Park is an Assistant Professor in Cognitive Literary Studies at UC Santa Barbara and specializes in modernism and the unconscious. The founder of the Unconscious Memory Network, she is now pursuing her research on the representation of altered states of consciousness, such as dreams.

Project Affiliates

Mary Robson

Dr Adam Powell

Professor Patricia Waugh

Professor Robert Barton

Professor Charles Fernyhough

Professor Julie Carlson

Professor Kay Young

Professor Dominique Jullen

Professor Paul Armstrong

Professor H. Porter Abbott

Professor Peter Schwenger

Professor Elliot Wolfson

Professor John Sutton

Dr Joel Krueger

Dr Sam Wilkinson

Dr David Dupuis

Dr Tehseen Noorani

Dr Guido Furci

Dr Angela Woods

Professor Sharon Sliwinski

Dr Michelle Carr

Affiliated Centres and Networks

The Early Career Hallucinations Research Group (ECHR)

Literature and the Mind (UCSB)

2nd Generation Cognitive Literary Studies