Sharon Lubkemann Allen

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20042005 Forum on Sleep and Dreams

Sharon Lubkemann Allen

Comparative Literature

The Slanted Line: Dreams, Dissent, and Displacement: Luso-Brazilian/Russian Dialogues in Contemporary Fiction, Literary and Cultural Theory

Dr. Allen explores the relation of dreams, dissent, and displacement in literature and culture on the geographical and historical margins of Europe and of empire. Reflexive fictions by Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Machado de Assis are the points of departure for this study, in which cultural consciousness is explored through the internalized, “underground” dialogues of digressive clerks dreaming in corners of the city and in the margins of the text.


Dr. Allen begins with twentieth-century narratives: those for which Dostoyevsky and Machado de Assis’s proto-modernist underground texts become subtexts, and in which nightmarish political and psychological realities displace dissent into the domain of dreams—in Pessoa’s Lisbon, Bulgakov and Petrushevskaia’s Moscow, Lispector’s Rio, and Lin’s Recife. She continues with an examination of dreamscapes in contemporary fiction (Pelevin, Saramago, Fonseca, and Abreu), film, and cultural theory (particularly models of displaced memory developed by Lotman, Schwarz, Lachmann, Todorov, and Epstein).


The result will be a better understanding of the function of dreams and the creative capacities of an eccentric line of literature that originated under totalitarian rule but now is no longer linked to dissent or forced to dissemble exigent to Soviet or Brazilian military rule. Dr. Allen also hopes to integrate dialogues between contemporary Brazilian, Portuguese, and Russian writers, filmmakers, and scholars