Sleep Fictions: Rest and Its Deprivations in Progressive-Era Literature (Topics in the Digital Humanities) (Hardcover)
A turn-of-the-century influx of new technologies and the enormous impact of the electric light transformed not only individual sleeping habits but the ways American culture conceived and valued sleep. Hannah L. Huber analyzes the works of Henry James, Edith Wharton, Charles Chesnutt, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to examine the literary response to the period’s obsession with wakefulness. As these writers blurred the separation of public and private space, their characters faced exhaustion in a modern world that permeated every moment of their lives with artificial light, traffic noise, and the social pressure to remain active at all hours. The implacable cultural clock and constant stress over physical limitations had an even greater impact on marginalized figures. Huber pays particular attention to how these writers rebutted Americans’ confidence in the body’s ability to conquer sleep with vivid portraits of the devastating consequences of sleep disruption and deprivation.
The author also provides a website and text visualization tool that offers readers an interdisciplinary, deconstructed analysis of the book’s primary texts. The website can be found at: https://sleepfictions.org/sleep/scalar/index