Cambridge Festival of Ideas – “Dreams and Nightmares”

From 24 October to 4 November 2012, the University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas is organising hundreds of free talks, performances and exhibitions under the theme “Dreams and Nightmares”. The events include:

Is purgatory a dream or a nightmare? (24 October)

An Anglican-Catholic dialogue and discussion on John Henry Newman’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ with Reverend Peter Hayler, Chaplain to the University Staff and Father Andrew Ekpenyong, St Edmund’s College. Part of the Multi-Faith Series.

Walking the dreams and nightmares – FULLY BOOKED (24 October)

Were ‘Winnie The Pooh’ and ‘Arthur Dent’ dreamed up in Cambridge? Gallop through a galaxy of genres with the Society of Cambridge Tourist Guides on this family-friendly stroll of literary vistas. Book groups and bookworms welcome! Supported by Society of Cambridge Tourist Guides.

Disturbed nights and dreamy days (24 October)

Dr Charlotte Woodford, Department of German and Dutch, explores women’s emotional worlds in the German fictional works of psychoanalyst Lou Andreas-Salomé.

‘The Science of Sleep’ (24 October)

Lucy Cavendish College, in partnership with the Arts Picturehouse, will be showing a screening of Michel Gondry’s film, which explores the inner workings of a young artist’s imagination and dreams as he falls in love with his neighbour. The film screening will be followed by a short talk from Dr Isabelle McNeill, who teaches French cinema and literature in the Department of French. Ages 15+

Living the dream (24 October)

Buddhists reflect on the simile of the dream as a way to develop inner freedom. As we begin to awaken not just from the dream of life, but also from the dreaming self,through practical exercises and discussion. Part of the Multi-Faith Series.

A trail of polar dreams and nightmares (25 October)

Throughout the Festival, explore our trail of polar dreams and nightmares. Find untold secrets hidden in draws and strange objects that have crept into the cases.

Night thoughts and waking dreams (25 October)

A set of readings in response to the dreaming unconscious, curated by members of the English Faculty. People may join or leave at pauses rough on the hour, every hour. Watch live at

Poincaré’s dream (25 October)

What is the real geometry of space? Surely we can just go and measure it? Find out how Henri Poincaré, the French mathematical genius, had a dream that he could resolve the issue.

Dreams and nightmares in science fiction and fantasy (25 October)

Much science fiction and fantasy involves imagining worlds where our dreams or our nightmares have come true. As well as stimulating short papers from science fiction writers and researchers, there will be a panel discussion. Panel members: Dr Una McCormack, Toby Venables and Professors Sarah Annes Brown, Farah Mendlesohn and Rowlie Wymer. Presented by Anglia Ruskin University.

The search for the self in early 20th century German thought (26 October)

Dr Liz Disley, Department of German and Dutch, will explore the links between dreams and German philosophy. Descartes famously worried that all his experiences were dreams. However, for Edmund Husserl and his correspondents, and perhaps for us, dreams could be the key to unlocking the secrets of consciousness.

Creating dreamtimes (27 October)

Create stories in words and pictures based on ancient and modern dreaming, including Australian Aboriginal art and stories, and the ‘Creation Tales’ of poet Ted Hughes, who studied Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. Presented by Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, and Anglia Ruskin University.

For more information and to access the complete programme of events, click here.

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