Dreams in Early Modern England  book cover
1st Edition

Dreams in Early Modern England

ISBN 9781138853997
Published May 2, 2017 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

Dreams in Early Modern England offers an in-depth exploration of the variety of different ways in which early modern people understood and interpreted dreams, from medical explanations to political, religious or supernatural associations.

Through examining how dreams were discussed and presented in a range of diffrerent texts, including both published works and private notes and diaries, this book highlights the many coexisting strands of thought that surrounded dreams in early modern England. Most significantly, it places early modern perceptions of dreams within the social context of the period through an evaluation of how they were shaped by key events of the time, such as the Reformation and the English Civil Wars. The chapters also explore contemporary experiences and ideas of dreams in relation to dream divination, religious visions, sleep, nightmares and sleep disorders.

This book will be of great value to students and academics with an interest in dreams and the understanding of dreams, sleep and nightmares in early modern English society.

Table of Contents

List of figures


A Note on Transcriptions


Chapter 1: "Seasons of Sleep:" Natural Dreams, Health and the Physiology of Sleep Chapter 2: Decoding Dreams: Dreambooks and Divination

Chapter 3: "Nocturnal Whispers of the Almighty": Spiritual Dreams and the

Discernment of Spirits

Chapter 4: "The Terrors of the Night": Nightmares and Sleep Disorders




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Janine Rivière, received her PhD in History from the University of Toronto, Canada in 2013, where she has also been teaching since 2004. She has published widely on the topic of dreams and nightmares in early modern England.


"This book is an insightful and much-needed account of the nature, variety and use of dreams in early modern culture. By tracing how dreams were interweaved with religious, scientific and philosophical debates, and with the landscapes of everyday life in seventeenth and eighteenth-century England, Riviere makes a persuasive case for the active agency of dreams in shaping personal identities and broader cultural processes. This book is a ‘must-read’ for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the relationship between dreams, selfhood and nocturnal culture in the early modern world."

Sasha Handley, University of Manchester, UK