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In Short: "Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams": Dream Analysis, Mechanophobia, and the God of Fear with Jacqueline Ahl


1 Session

In stock

Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT July 11, 2024

Online via Zoom

“Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams,” written in 1958 when Sylvia Plath was 25, was first published posthumously in the Atlantic in 1968. With its austere and clinical setting, its lake of monstrosities, its voyeurism, its vivid and violent imagery, the story might be framed as allegorical or actual, absurdist or post-modernist, fantastical or autobiographical, surreal or hyper-rational. What does it offer the reader in 2024? Does it hold up a mirror to the modern mind or is it a time capsule of 1950’s anxieties? Assuming the observations Plath made in 1958 are ones we recognize today, is fear an organizing principle for human action? (Is the world run by panic and is the God of Fear the “prime mover”? Is fear the primary motivator or the primary cause of inaction?) Body horror, mechanophobia, electroshock therapy, religious allusion, psychoanalytic theory, and dream interpretation all inform the conversation. Whatever your take, “Johnny Panic” is a powerhouse of weird; get ready to unpack the narrative—and the narrator.

What to Expect from This Group: Introduction/background/overview provided, according to participant interest. (Possible questions for discussion as a “jumping off point” provided in advance of session.) Conversation is open-ended and participant-driven.

Please Note: All virtual classes are recorded. Please click here for information about our recording policy. A link to the story will be sent upon registration.

Led by

  • Jacqueline Ahl

    Jacqueline Ahl

    Jacqueline Ahl

    Jacqueline Ahl is a writer, presenter, and educator. At SUNY New Paltz, she served as visiting poet for Understanding Poetry (2007-2015), Founder/Director of the Creative Writing Mentoring Program (2000-2005), and member of the William Vasse Poetry Board (2000-2006). She also hosted Plath and the Public Eye (a two-day celebration of the work of Sylvia Plath) and served as guest speaker for Major Authors: Sylvia Plath (2009) and Writing for Publishing (2008). Jacqueline also served as instructor for the Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) at Vassar College (2005-2015), teaching courses in philosophy, psychology, symbols and iconography, scriptwriting, fantasy fiction, and improvisation. Jacqueline’s publications include A Slant of Light: Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley (2013) and Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers (2007) and her poetry features include Albany Wordfest and The Woodstock Roundtable on WDST. Jacqueline’s plays have been produced in NY, NC, and MO, receiving national and international awards.