Caught in the dance : dream poems, experiential narrative, and the continuity hypothesis

  • Niloofar Fanaiayan

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis explores the efficacy of the dream poem as a narrative device and is the outcome of practice-led research. The creative component, a novella, includes significant dreams of the main characters in the form of lyric poetry. The author’s own dream reports are used as source material for the poetry, and are contextualised within a prose fiction framework. Caught in the Dance is an experiment in combining prose with dream poetry and in investigating the experiential power of dreams on the formation of character identity. The exegesis discusses dreaming as an experience and the place of that experience in the context of identity narratives. Central to this discussion is the continuity hypothesis regarding the symbiosis of waking and sleeping life. Fludernik’s theory of experiential narrative is applied to dreaming and to the composition of poetry. This theory moves the emphasis of narrativity from events and the action of telling to ‘grounding narrativity in the representation of experientiality’ (Fludernik 1996:20). Ricoeur’s theories on identity and narrative are also applied to the reading of dreams, and experiences in general. He calls the system through which we ‘read’ life the ‘semantics of action’ (Ricoeur 1991b:28). Fludernik’s and Ricoeur’s approaches build on each other and they are brought together in the context of theories of the self, consciousness, and the processing of experience. Lyric poetry, as a creative product of that same consciousness, is discussed as experienced narrative moment. Furthermore, those moments are identified as defining elements in the identity narratives of characters. By combining the experience of dreaming with the experience imparted through lyric poetry, this thesis argues that the continuity hypothesis serves effectively as a demonstration of the wider narratological importance of experiential narrative.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTony Eaton (Supervisor), Paul Magee (Supervisor) & Jen Webb (Supervisor)

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