Wallstein Verlag

Hannah Ahlheim

The Dream of Sleep in the 20th Century

Knowledge, optimisation fantasies and resistance

695 pages, 14,0 x 22,2
ISBN: 978-3-8353-3247-8 (2018)


German Version

Sleep – the subject of myths, stories and images for thousands of years.

The human being spends a good third of his life sleeping. The time we spend asleep may be unconscious, unproductive and inactive, but it is also indispensible, and we often long for it. How does a society in which scientific understanding, rationality and efficiency play a central role approach an uncontrollable phenomenon such as sleep? Hannah Ahlheim’s study of the development of »sleep knowledge« in Germany and the USA since the late 19th century combines the history of a science with the history of modern society in a consistent way. It shows that the picture of the sleeping body and the dreaming soul or brain is not the only thing to have changed. Working with machines that are always awake, distorted boundaries between day and night, advances in science, the development of synthetic sleeping pills and the experience of war have made continually new demands on the daily organisation of sleep, leading to a heightened fear of sleep loss.

Hannah Ahlheim is a private lecturer at the University of Göttingen.

Publications include:
· Kontrollgewinn – Kontrollverlust.
· Die Geschichte des Schlafs in der Moderne (ed., 2014);
· »Deutsche, kauft nicht bei Juden!«
· Antisemitismus und politischer Boykott in Deutschland 1924 bis 1935
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