I’m in the initial stages of a new book project, tentatively titled “Writing the Sleep Crisis: 24/7 Capitalism and Neoliberal Subjectivity”, funded by the Wellcome Trust (Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science) and the European Commission (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship). The project explores how sleep, and lack thereof, is represented in contemporary writings across fiction, non-fiction, and digital culture.
Sleep experts are divided on whether our society is actually suffering from the crisis of poor sleep my project’s title refers to. Yet the discourse of contemporary society as chronically sleep-deprived dominates cultural production. My research analyses this discourse and what it 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.
“Writing the Sleep Crisis” is a deeply interdisciplinary research project. Throughout the duration of the project, I will be working closely with sleep psychologists, as well as philosophers and social scientists of technology.
If you’d like to hear more about the project, you can watch the recording of the first public event I organised for the project, “Forty Winks Café”, part of Being Human Festival 2020, the UK’s only festival of the humanities.
You can also read a short introductory piece called “Writing the Sleep Crisis” in The Polyphony, in which I discuss sleep deprivation and speculative fiction that imagines the future end of sleep.
Keep up to date with this project’s news:
In April 2021, with Andrew Tate (Lancaster University, UK) and Mary McCambell (Lee University, USA), I organised the first international conference devoted to Canadian writer and visual artist Douglas Coupland. Marking the 30th anniversary of the publication of Coupland’s first novel, Generation X, ‘Douglas Coupland and the Art of the “Extreme Present”‘ explored the richness of Coupland’s engagement with contemporary life across writings and visual culture. You can find out more, including recorded sessions, on the conference website. The conference attracted more than 300 registered attendees from across the world.
Andrew, Mary and I are currently working on follow-up projects, including an edited collection and Couplandesque, a new newsletter on Coupland’s work, as well as art, trends, pop culture, and literature that could be considered “couplandesque” (sign up to the newsletter here). Watch this space!