Chloe Owen

  • Research Student

PGR supervisionDr Joan Fitzpatrick and Dr Sara Read

I completed my BA in English and an MA in English Literary Studies: Renaissance Pathway at the University of Exeter. I then completed an MA in Shakespeare Studies on a programme split between King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I am currently working with Dr Joan Fitzpatrick and Dr Sara Read on a project that looks at the supernatural in early modern drama in relation to sleep paralysis and hypnic-hallucinations. My research interests are rooted in early modern death studies and the supernatural, and I have given several conference papers on these subjects. These include papers on: women in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus; skulls and anatomy in early modern drama; and the relationship between the ghosts of Hamlet and Richard III, sleep paralysis, and Katabasis (the descent into the classical underworld).

Thesis title:

“My dream was lengthened after life”: Sleep, Hallucinations, and the Supernatural in Early Modern Drama

My research considers the supernatural in early modern drama through the lens of sleep paralysis and hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations. Sleep paralysis is characterised by an individual’s inability to move, despite being conscious, when they are between sleeping and waking states. This is often accompanied by hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations – visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations that occur when a person is falling asleep or waking up, respectively. Due to the frightening, and often confusing, nature of the phenomena, they have given rise to supernatural folklore, including accounts of ghostly visitations, demonic possession, witchcraft, and fairies.

My project looks at such supernatural events in early modern drama in relation to sleep paralysis and hypnic-hallucinations. I examine early modern witchcraft pamphlets, religious treatises, folklore, medical texts, and modern psychological texts regarding the phenomena. Through looking at a range of cultural texts, I consider the ways in which sleep paralysis and hypnic-hallucinations weave their way into early modern culture, which, in turn, impacts on the representations of the supernatural in drama.