A nightmare was once believed to be a female spirit or monster who settled on and produced a feeling of suffocation in a sleeping person or animal. If most of us no longer believe in monsters, then why do nightmares still plague us? What makes nightmares scary? Are they distorted expressions of our deepest fears, or frightful fulfillments of our forbidden desires? In this course, we will examine the blurry line between fear and desire and consider the ways in which the “ugly” aspects of our unconscious unleash themselves into our consciousness in uncontrollable ways. Many works of literature present us with scenarios that resemble the surreal, anxiety-producing nightmares we’ve all experienced during otherwise peaceful and protective sleeps. As we probe these texts, we will explore the ways in which we are sometimes subject to the powers of our own imaginations. Texts will include William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Franz Kakfa’s The Metamorphosis, Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, and selected works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Nicolai Gogol, Jorge Luis Borges, and others. We will filter our discussions through the theoretical lenses of Sigmund Freud and other psychoanalysts.