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Dreams and Narratives: From Psychoanalysis to Contemporary Imaginaries

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Part of the Numanities - Arts and Humanities in Progress book series (NAHP,volume 3)

Abstract

The close relation between dreams and narratives emerges from the very definition of the former: “successions” (Random House Learner’s Dictionary of American English 2016) or “series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep” (Oxford Dictionary 2015 [emphasis added]). Such successions have a specific semiotic capacity, which means that they are charged with particular meanings, therefore inevitably requiring—or at least intensely inviting—interpretation . From Freud ’s model—according to which dreams give expression to prior, unconscious dream thoughts (Freud in The interpretation of Dreams —Standard Edition. Hogarth Press, London, 1900)—to contemporary collective imaginaries, such a semiotic force has been foregrounded and variously explored, revealing relevant aspects related to dreaming (e.g. the role of memory, the importance of the perceptual level, the negotiation between the unconscious and the censorship of consciousness, the processes of spatialisation and temporalisation, etc.). Building on existing literature and the semiotic analysis of relevant case studies, this paper analyses the processes of meaning-making and the narrative logics underlying dreams and their collective representations, making particular reference to Greimas’ models (Greimas in Sémantique structurale: recherche de method. Larousse, Paris, 1966; Greimas in Du sens, essais sémiotiques. Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1970; Greimas in Maupassant: la sémiotique du texte, exercices pratiques. Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1975; Greimas in Du sens 2. Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1983).

Keywords

  • Dreams
  • Narratives
  • Interpretation
  • Grimas
  • Freud

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Fig. 2.1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    An hypothesis is to refer to Jacques Marie Émile Lacan’s work—which combines linguistics with the psychoanalytic discourse—on the “primacy of the signifier”: “The signifier alone guarantees the theoretical coherence of the whole as a whole. Its ability to do so is confirmed by the latest development in science, just as, upon reflection, we find it to be implicit in early linguistic experience” (Lacan 1966: 145); “[…] not only does the signifier play as big a role there as the signified does, but it plays the fundamental role” (Lacan 1981: 119). This aspect, together with Freud ’s reflections on meaning atomism (1901) and the “hyper-determination of the signifier” (cf. Volli 2012) would help complement Greimasian narrative theory in view of a more effective study of dreams and their processes of interpretation . Further reflections on these issues are in progress and will be presented in details in future publications.

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Stano, S. (2018). Dreams and Narratives: From Psychoanalysis to Contemporary Imaginaries. In: Andreica, O., Olteanu, A. (eds) Readings in Numanities. Numanities - Arts and Humanities in Progress, vol 3. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-66914-4_2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-66914-4_2

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