Herbert Hillier, 'Dreams! The 'Guard' Off Duty, July 2nd 1915' pencil drawing
© IWM ART 4374

Chloe Nahum began an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership provisionally entitled ‘‘To dream as I have never dreamed before’: Dreaming and the First World War’ in October 2018. A partnership between IWM and the English Faculty at the University of Oxford, her thesis examines the dream as a cultural and experiential phenomenon of the First World War. It argues that the war engendered an epidemic of dreaming which was reflected in, and in turn influenced by, a distinctive cultural prominence of the dream. Emerging theories of ‘shell shock’, popular dream interpretation guides, and Freudian conceptualisations of the unconscious all figure as elements of a broad and pervasive interest in the dream at this time. Combatants and civilians alike heeded their oneiric lives with a new urgency, often according their night-time phantasms a status equivalent to waking life. Through a wide range of media, including published literary material, visual sources, diaries, and letters, the thesis traces the consequences of the war upon the significance and experience of the dream in British culture.