Historicizing the ageing self: Literature, medicine, psychology, law
Seminar series

Sleep, Senescence, Subjectivity

Professor George Rousseau's Annual Seminar will be held at the University of Bergen, October 3-5 2018.

Lola Maria Muller

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Professor George Rousseau Annual Seminar


October 3-5, 2018


Cultural historian George Rousseau (Oxford University) is known as one of the founders of the internationally established field of Literature and Science, and of Literature and Medicine, academic attainments that will feed into the seminars he offers as a visiting professor in Bergen from 2017-2020.

This year, Professor Rousseau's seminar is dedicated to sleep and includes talks by Professor Bjørn Bjorvatn, Director of the Norwegian Competence Center for Sleep Disorders at Haukeland University Hospital, and Inger Hilde Nordhus, Professor of Clinical Psychology (UiB) and Behavioural Medicine (UiO). Dr. Soledad Marambio (UiB) and Ph.D. candidate Gunn Inger Sture will contribute with talks on literature, sleep and ageing. The seminars are organized by the SAMKUL Research Project, Historicizing the Ageing Self: Literature, Medicine, Psychology, Law.


Seminar programme:


Wednesday, October 3

Aud. 3, Jussbygget (Magnus Lagabøtes plass 1)

14:15 – 15:00: 

Professor Rousseau, ‘The Natural History and Poetics of Sleep’

  • Introduction to the natural history and poetics of sleep: methodologies
  • Is sleep a metaphor?  Comparison of sleep and memes as potential metaphors
  • Why sleep is of especially monumental concern to the ageing and demented
  • memory in the humanities and sciences: differences and overlaps
  • A broad interdisciplinary approach to sleep in the humanities and sciences

15:15 – 16:00: 

George Rousseau, ‘Nocturia and the Nocturnal World of the Ageing’

  • The nocturnal world of the elderly compared to the young
  • dreams, nightmares, and the symbolism of night
  • Nocturia and other nighttime despairs among the elderly well and the elderly sick
  • Deep REM sleep and dream states among the elderly


Gunn Inger Sture, ‘Sleep and the Proustian conception of time

  • Metaphors concerning sleep and time in the opening of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past
  • Sleep, time and ageing


Thursday, October 4

Aud. 1, Jussbygget (Magnus Lagabøtes plass 1)

14:15 – 15:00: 

Bjørn Bjorvatn, ‘Sleep and sleep disorders’ (video not available)

  • How different sleep stages progress during the night
  • Sleep regulation - the importance of circadian rhythm and time of wakefulness
  • Is sleep important for good health?
  • Six different sleep disorders - how are they treated?

15:15 – 16:00: 

George Rousseau, ‘Contemporary Culture and the Current State of Sleep Science’

  • Explanations of sleep and its deficits in 24/7 societies and cultures Western and Eastern
  • How cultures collude to disturb sleep states in the various stages of life
  • Adequate contexts for the broad spectrum of anxiety among the insomniac ageing
  • Current conundrums about geriatric insomnia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)


Soledad Marambio, 'The Angst of Falling Asleep and the Dread of Waking up'

  • On the Argentinian writer Aurora Venturini (1922-2015) and her last novel, Los Rieles (2013)


Friday, October 5

Aud. 3, Jussbygget (Magnus Lagabøtes plass 1)

14:15 – 15:00: 

Inger Hilde Nordhus, ‘Sleep and Human Ageing in terms of health and regulation’

  • Sleep and wakefulness in a life-span perspective – facts, myths and metaphors about sleep in late life
  • Sleep in the ageing population – an important component for health and wellness
  • How sleep fragmentation in dementia deteriorates the sleep-wakefulness rhythm – a process of individual vulnerability
  • How novel interventions target the older person suffering from dementia – exposure to light in order to affect health and behaviour

15:15 – 16:00:

George Rousseau reads from his new forthcoming memoir Light Sleep

  • a personal memoir offering an historical and biographical account of a lifetime in search of deep sleep and its meanings
  • combines sleep science and regimes of sleep therapy with literary and historical research
  • the author reads passages from the memoir


RECEPTION in the foyer of the Law building (Magnus Lagabøtes plass 1)




References for the Seminars:

Ancoli-Israel, Sonia et al. Sleep in the Older Adult.  Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders, 2006.

Brewster, Glenna S. "Insomnia in the Older Adult." Sleep in Older Adults: A Special Issue of Sleep Medicine Clinics 13, no. 1 (20 March 2017): 13-19.

Carrai, Stefano. Ad Somnum: L'invocazione Al Sonno Nella Lirica Italiana.  Padova: Antenore, 1990.

Chekhov, Anton. "A Medical Case." In The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov, edited by Garnett, Constance, 179-94. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2017.

Crary, Jonathan. 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep.  London: Verso, 2013.

Ekirch, A. Roger. At Day's Close: A History of Nighttime.  London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005.

Foster, Russell G. and Steven W. Lockley. Sleep: A Very Short Introduction.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Greene, Gayle. Insomniac: A Fascinating Exploration of Insomnia for Sufferers and Practitioners.  London: Piatkus, 2014.

Handley, Sasha and Matthew Claudel. Sleep in Early Modern England: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017.

Hardwick, Elizabeth. Sleepless Nights.  New York: Random House, 1979.

Koslofsky, Craig. Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe. New Studies in European History.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Lavie, P. The Enchanted World of Sleep.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

Mabin, Dominique and Philip Kolb. Le Sommeil De Marcel Proust.  Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1992.

Macnish, Robert. The Philosophy of Sleep.  Glasgow: n. p., 1830.

Makker, Himender, M. C. Walker, Hugh Selsick, Bhik Kotecha and Ama Johal. Oxford Case Histories in Sleep Medicine.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Mavromatis, Andreas. Hypnagogia: The Unique State of Consciousness between Wakefulness and Sleep.  London: Routledge, 1987.

Rose, Jacqueline. On Not Being Able to Sleep: Psychoanalysis and the Modern World.  London: Chatto & Windus, 2003.

Summers-Bremner, Eluned. Insomnia: A Cultural History.  New York: Reaktion Books, 2007.

Walker, Matthew P. Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams.  London: Allen Lane, 2017.

Wortham, Simon. The Poetics of Sleep: From Aristotle to Nancy.  London: Bloomsbury, 2014.