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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The apple and the talking snake : feminist dream readings and the subjunctive curriculum Gregor, Pearl E.


In this dissertation I develop a theoretical framework for the practice of dream reading as a form of literary engagement worthy of attention from educators. Dream reading is a form of research in which the researcher takes responsibility for self-reflection and potential transformation of self through the construction of knowledge based on “reading” literary fictive images as if they arose from night dreams. This study develops dream reading theory through an exploration of Carol Shields’ novel, Unless, as fit were a dream. It examines women’s silence and the disposition of fear of knowing from multiple perspectives. The study uses my personal dream journals together with a variety of theoretical works in feminist, consciousness and dream theories to inform interpretations of Norah, Reta, Lois, and Danielle. For as Donald (2001) says, “when stories and ideas are juxtaposed, so that their meanings collide, they can shift our focus to new semantic spaces [to] clarify the experienced world” (p. 294). This work is a limit case that investigates women’s silence and fear of knowing as they emerge from my personal experience of resistance to the chaos and uncertainty of disintegrating and rebuilding through midlife into crone. The study shows how dream reading a literary text might gather together and re arrange lived experience and encourage the creation and re-creation of life stories from different perspectives. Dream reading contributes to the study of the details of the phenomenology of inside/outside cognitive worlds. Exploring literary fiction and personal dreams suggests that literary fiction read as if it were a dream can contribute to the identification of shifting self-knowledge and the creation of new myths subversive to the patriarchal Symbolic Order. Narrating and re-creating reader-response experience provides insight into self and the struggle for the transformation of the principles of linear rational thought. Finally, it is suggested that by accepting that lived reality matters and by beginning to imagine exceeding the demands of patriarchal consciousness for conformity, acquiescence and certainty, one can explore, perceive and imagine teaching and learning in different ways, and thereby create opportunities for critical reflection and insight in the teacher education curriculum.

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