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).
There’s a widespread sense that contemporary society is chronically sleep-deprived. We sleep one to two hours less than previous generations did and sleep disorders are on the rise. In this study, the first to investigate cultural engagements with the sleep crisis, I consider a wide range of twenty-first-century writings: fiction, non-fiction (memoirs and self-help manuals), and digital culture (mobile health apps and sleep hygiene blogs). Analysing these texts, I explore the concerns about contemporary life highlighted by the notion of a sleep crisis and what these concerns reveal about the relationship between health, in particular mental health, and neoliberal ideologies, especially those shaping our sense of self, experience of time, and working lives. I seek to theorise the affects of the sleep crisis – such as insomnia, burnout, exhaustion, anxiety – as voiced by contemporary cultural production.
With Andrew Tate (Lancaster University, UK) and Mary McCambell (Lee University, USA), I’m organising a virtual conference for Spring 2021 on Canadian writer and visual artist Douglas Coupland. Marking the 30th anniversary of the publication of Coupland’s first novel, Generation X, this conference – the first on Coupland’s work – seeks to explore the richness of Coupland’s engagement with contemporary life across writings and visual culture. More information on this event coming soon!