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Sleeping science fictionally: Nineteenth-Century Utopian fictions and contemporary sleep research

Willis, Martin ORCID: 2019. Sleeping science fictionally: Nineteenth-Century Utopian fictions and contemporary sleep research. Osiris 34 (1) , pp. 261-276. 10.1086/703562

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In this article, I examine historical representations of sleep found in both medical and fictional narratives of the second half of the nineteenth century. I draw primarily on medical cases constructed as narratives for specialist medical periodicals, on the one hand, and on utopian fictions (or utopian science fictions, as they might also be called), on the other. I place these narratives in dialogue with my own ethnographic writing of experiences within a contemporary sleep laboratory. The aim of this unusual conflation of past and present, and of employing different methodological approaches to the study of a specific subject, is to understand sleep better, in the first instance, but also ultimately to examine how an interrogation of science fiction might be repurposed as an interrogation of the methodology of science fiction. Science fiction is a genre that draws upon the past to imagine a future. My article considers how reimagining such temporal disjunctions as critical practice might allow for new insights, both for future methodologies bridging the sciences and the humanities, and for specific objects of study, such as pathologies of sleep, or any other that has social, cultural, and scientific purchase.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: University of Chicago Press:
ISSN: 0369-7827
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 March 2019
Date of Acceptance: 12 March 2019
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 04:50

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