English, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 7-2013

Document Type



Nagel, Anne N. Beyond the Looking-Glass: The Intensity of the Gothic Dream in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. MA Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2013.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Peter Capuano. Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2013.

Copyright (c) 2013 Anne N. Nagel


The dream is a contested space in terms of allegory and affect, the non-conscious intensity associated with feelings and emotions. Readers tend to express disappointment when a narrative turns out to be “just a dream,” yet the dream is uniquely capable of evoking powerful affective intensity. Yet most scholarship approaches the literary dream through representational interpretation, which not only overlooks the intensity of affect, but dampens it. The dreamer cannot interpret the dream while engrossed in dreaming. By taking into consideration the perspective of the dreamer, this thesis moves beyond the reflective lens of symbolic interpretation to explore the intensity of the dream in British literature of the long nineteenth century with the purpose of clarifying the role of affect. This thesis focuses on the Gothic dream with the caveat that this may serve as a point of departure for a future study expanded to include other literary dreams. Conceptualizing the “dream” in nineteenth-century terms, one finds that the very efforts to rationalize it only confirm its non-rational, affective force. Moreover, this research reveals remarkable commonalities with Deleuzian affect theory. Informed by these sources, this thesis analyzes Gothic literary dreams throughout the long nineteenth century, ultimately revealing that it is the struggle between the dialectics of waking reality and the non-rational, affective world of the dream that drives the Gothic novel of the long nineteenth century.

Advisor: Peter Capuano