Forming Sleep: Representing Consciousness in the English Renaissance
Forming Sleep asks how biocultural and literary dynamics act together to shape conceptions of sleep states in the early modern period. Engaging with poetry, drama, and prose largely written in English between 1580 and 1670, the essays in this collection highlight period discussions about how seemingly insentient states might actually enable self-formation. Looking at literary representations of sleep through formalism, biopolitics, Marxist theory, trauma theory, and affect theory, this volume envisions sleep states as a means of defining the human condition, both literally and metaphorically. The contributors examine a range of archival sources-including texts in early modern faculty psychology, printed and manuscript medical treatises and physicians' notes, and printed ephemera on pathological sleep-through the lenses of both classical and contemporary philosophy. Essays apply these frameworks to genres such as drama, secular lyric, prose treatise, epic, and religious verse. Taken together, these essays demonstrate how early modern depictions of sleep shape, and are shaped by, the philosophical, medical, political, and, above all, formal discourses through which they are articulated. With this in mind, the question of form merges considerations of the physical and the poetic with the spiritual and the secular, highlighting the pervasiveness of sleep states as a means by which to reflect on the human condition. In addition to the editors, the contributors to this volume include Brian Chalk, Jennifer Lewin, Cassie Miura, Benjamin Parris, Giulio Pertile, N. Amos Rothschild, Garret T. Sullivan Jr., and Timothy A. Turner.