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Writing the Sleep Crisis: 24/7 Capitalism and Neoliberal Subjectivity

White Wellcome logo on pink background‘Writing the Sleep Crisis: 24/7 Capitalism and Neoliberal Subjectivity’ is a project led by Dr Diletta De Cristofaro and funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science. The project is mentored by Prof Katy Shaw and involves collaborations with Prof Jason Ellis and the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research

A medical humanities intersection of literary studies, cultural studies, and critical theory, ‘Writing the Sleep Crisis’ is the first study to investigate cultural engagements with the so-called sleep crisis. Sleep experts are divided on whether our society is actually suffering from the crisis of poor sleep to which the project’s title refers. Yet the discourse of contemporary society as chronically sleep-deprived dominates cultural production. Analysing this discourse in contemporary writings across fiction, non-fiction, and digital culture, the project considers what the sleep crisis tells us about our conceptions of sleep, health – especially mental health – the temporal rhythms of day-to-day life in the twenty-first century, and the pressures these rhythms exercise on us.

Caption: Insomnia. Credit: Stephen Magrath. CC0 1.0 Universal

In The Polyphony, you can read “Writing the Sleep Crisis”, a short piece introducing the project and discussing speculative fiction that imagines the future end of sleep. This essay also looks back on Forty Winks Café, the project’s inaugural event at Being Human Festival 2020, the UK’s national festival of the humanities, now available as a recording on YouTube.

Visit the project's website to find out more.

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