cover image: Restless in Sleep Country : Imagination and the Cultural Politics of Sleep


Restless in Sleep Country : Imagination and the Cultural Politics of Sleep

14 May 2024

Sleep, and the lack of it, is a public obsession and an enormous everyday quandary. Troubled sleep tends to be seen as an individual problem and personal responsibility, to be fixed by better habits and tracking gadgets, but the reality is more complicated. Sleep is a site of politics, culture, and power.

In Restless in Sleep Country Paul Huebener pulls back the covers on cultural representations of sleep to show how they are entangled with issues of colonialism, homelessness, consumer culture, technology and privacy, the exploitation of labour, and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though it almost entirely evades direct experience, sleep is the subject of a variety of potent narratives, each of which can serve to clarify and shape its role in our lives. In Canada, cultural visions of slumber circulate through such diverse forms as mattress commercials, billboards, comic books, memoirs, experimental poetry, and bedtime story phone apps. By guiding us through this imaginative landscape, Huebener shows us how to develop a critical literacy of sleep.

Lying down and closing our eyes is an act that carries surprisingly high stakes, going beyond individual sleep troubles. Restless in Sleep Country illuminates the idea of sleep as a crucial site of inequity, struggle, and gratification.


Paul Huebener

Published in
Montreal, CA

Table of Contents