In a landmark study on sleep, the French physiologist Henri Piéron (1913) coined the term “sleep in a bottle” to capture the spectacular promise that the pharmaceutical industry extended to those who responded to the modern 24/7 society with nervous restlessness and insomnia. This talk explores historic advertisements for sleeping pills, materials from visual culture, selected epistemic genres and media of sleep science, and the literary reflection of these practices in order to understand better how sleep medication has achieved the potential to make and unmake selfhood since the beginning of the 20th century. Questions of gender, agency, and cultural anxiety about productivity will emerge as specific concerns.
Sebastian P. Klinger is a literary scholar who studies subjectivity, embodiment, aesthetic experience, consciousness, and human frailty in the German-speaking world. His current research brings to bear these interests on sleep, one of the last remaining mysteries of our everyday life. Specifically, he examines sleep experiments in literature, science and society around 1900. Unlike thematic studies on dreams, his dissertation shows that modern sleep is entwined with medically and pharmaceutically produced forms of subjectivity, which, in turn, galvanized new ways of writing the self. Bridging the divide between different languages, cultures, media, and bodies of evidence, it is the first interdisciplinary study that elucidates the experimental and the experiential dimension of sleep through a historically informed and methodologically reflected conversation between literature, science and material culture. Klinger has graduated from Oxford and is currently a PhD candidate at Princeton. He divides his time between Berlin and the Greater New York Area.
Elena Zanichelli, art historian, art critic and curator, has been assistant professor for Contemporary Art History and Aesthetic Theory at the Institute for Art History—Film Studies—Art Education, University of Bremen and the Mariann Steegmann Institute. Art & Gender since 2018. In 2012 she completed her doctorate at Humboldt University of Berlin on the topic Private – please enter! Rhetorics of Privacy in the arts of the 1990s. She is currently researching the artistic and (mass) media changes in family images since Modernism and is working on an anthology (together with Valeria Schulte-Fischedick) on the art historical concept of formlessness.
Lecture to the exhibition “gerlach en koop. Was machen Sie um zwei? Ich schlafe.” with introduction by Elena Zanichelli
In cooperation with the Mariann Steegmann Institute. Art & Gender, and the Institute for Art History— Film Studies—Art Education, University of Bremen