Dreaming and Writing

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
08 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This workshop-based module will focus on the relationship between creative writing and dreams. The main focus will be to practically explore new forms and ideas for writing through engagement with literatures that explore dream forms, and/or use dream material for experimental narratives and poetry, as well as examples from a range of experimental film and art.

The group will be encouraged to write continually throughout the module using their own dreams, dream theory and other literary dream works as research for their work. The students will be strongly encouraged to keep a dream journal as a necessary aspect of the course. The group will be introduced to some 20th Century, classical and contemporary dream theories, as well as key psychoanalytic literature on dream interpretation to be engaged with through essential weekly independent reading.

Module aims

* Explore experimental forms and ideas through the medium of dreams
* Employ innovative approaches to researching, composing and sharing creative writing
* Apply critical theory to various forms of surreal, innovative, transgressive and philosophically charged material.
* Build an identity as a writer, taking creative writing practice outside the classroom
* Experiment with form and ideas in poetry and prose
* Explore voice and character
* Consider the act of writing in conjunction with our experience of the world and our self-knowledge

Module learning outcomes

1. A rich portfolio of imaginative, cross-genre writing.
2. A grounded understanding of key theories and concepts relating to dream philosophies and literature.
3. A developed sense of creative writing practices.
4. Heightened confidence in working collaboratively and contribute to a assured and supportive writing environment

Module information

The independent creative writing project can be; poetry, fiction, film script, performance score, or somewhere in between some or all of these. This creative piece will be accompanied by a critical commentary that situates the work in terms of relevant theory and other creative works. In addition to the writing project, students will be asked to produce a small collaborative work (working in pairs, or possibly threes).

Example of General Reading:

Blanchot, Maurice, 'Dreaming, Writing' in Friendship, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971)

Cixous, Hélène, Dream I Tell You, trans. by Beverley Bie Brahic (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006)

Farbman, Herschel, The Other Night: Dreaming, Writing, and Restlessness in Twentieth-Century Literature (New York: Fordham Press, 2008)

Freud, S., The interpretation of dreams; trans by Joyce Crick, (Oxford: Oxford World Classics, 1999)

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery for 2020-21: The module will have an emphasis on practical explorations of the themes; – through writing exercises, workshops and collaborating. As well as weekly independent readings of key texts, students will be required to undergo independent writing throughout the module in the form of a dream diary. The weekly classes will be spilt into two one-hour sessions: The first half will be a one-hour seminar (online where necessary) during which the module tutor will give short presentations on key concepts and reading, followed by a discussion and/or a live writing exercise. Students should do at least two hours of independent reading as preparation for each seminar group. The second half of the class will be conducted independently or in groups (online where necessary) during which participants will complete a set task or writing exercise. This may be done asynchronously (in your own time) where synchronous (at the same time) attendance isn’t possible. The completion of these tasks will contribute a score to the final grade. There will be a designated week scheduled for one-to-one tutorials.


  • Blanchot, Maurice. (1997) 'Dreaming and Writing', in Friendship, Palo Alto: Stanford University Press., pp.140-148
  • Cortázar, Julio. (1985) Blow-up, and other stories, New York: Pantheon Books.
  • Julio Cortazar. (1985) 'The Night Face Up', in Blow-up, and other stories, New York: Pantheon Books.
  • Aberth, Susan L. (2010) Leonora Carrington: surrealism, alchemy and art, Burlington, VT: Ashgate/Lund Humphries.
  • Nabokov, Vladimir; Barabtarlo, Gennady. (2018) Insomniac Dreams, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • (2004) Dreams and history: the interpretation of dreams from ancient Greece to modern psychoanalysis, Hove: Routledge.
  • Plath, Sylvia. (1998) 'Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: And Other Prose Writings', in Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: And Other Prose Writings, London: Faber and Faber.
  • Bechdel, Alison. (2013) Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama: Mariner Books.
  • Breton, André; Seaver, Richard; Lane, Helen R. (©1969) Manifestoes of surrealism, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Cixous, Hélène. (2006) Dream I tell you, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. vol. Frontiers of theory
  • Walter Benjamin. (2008) 'Dream Kitsch', in The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility, and other writings on media, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press., pp.236-239

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Creative project plus critical commentary     70% 
Coursework   Collaborative mini-project    20% 
Practical   Online Portfolio    10% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Holly Pester, email:
Dr Holly Pester
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr James Michael Miller
Kingston University
Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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