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Night Terrors: Troubled Sleep and the Stories We Tell About It

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Dr Alice Vernon completed her PhD, investigating representations of insomnia in fiction, in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University under the supervision of Dr Jacqueline Yallop. Dracula’, ‘Jane Eyre’ and the Brother Cadfael mysteries all make reference to parasomnias, as does Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. Still, I learned a lot of interesting, amusing and frightening factoids, and mostly enjoyed having a glimpse into the author's psyche along the way.

And in the course of such eerie stories, Vernon proves to be an empathetic guide, too, using humor and quips to bring the horrors to a welcome halt. Most purchases from business sellers are protected by the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 which give you the right to cancel the purchase within 14 days after the day you receive the item. A welcome addition to the vast library it cites and celebrates, Vernon's work is a compelling guide to the uncanny grammar of our dread and desire. Along the way she explores the Salem Witch Trials and sleep paralysis, Victorian ghost stories, and soldiers’ experiences of PTSD. Over the next few years she would report from Paris as it fell to the Nazis, London on the first day of the blitz, and Berlin on the day Germany invaded Poland.

The passion in which Vernon pursues discussion to be normalised surrounding our sleeping patterns is something that I think we can all take away from with a sense of positivity, as after all, we all have sleep. I think it shows how essential it is for us teachers to remember how we teach is just as important as what we teach and how huge is the impact we can make to a person's life. Parasomnias have also been the subject of extensive scientific investigations with many medical theories and treatments recommended over the centuries. She is also interested in comics, especially regarding depictions of the body, and gave a talk on her work in this area at the Wellcome Collection in March 2020.

By directly confronting her own strange and frightening nights for the first time, Vernon encourages us to think about the way troubled sleep has impacted our imaginations. When aspiring foreign correspondent Virginia Cowles turned up to report on the Spanish civil war in 1937, she was a 26-year-old Boston debutante in heels. The style is eclectic, ranging from science journalism, to literary analysis of victorian novels, back to autobiographical writing. I am not a big non-fiction reader but I have been incredibly excited for this book ever since Alice mentioned she was writing it while I was her student at Aber Uni.

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