Felicity Callard

Reverie, Daydreams and Mind-Wandering in the Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Mind and Brain Sciences

My talk will centre on my current attempts to understand how various kinds of fugitive thought – variously understood under such terms as reverie, daydream, fantasy and mind-wandering – have been conceptualized, elicited, captured and used in the twentieth and twenty-first mind and brain sciences. The project began with my fascination at how the serendipitous neuroanatomical discovery (at the start of this century) of what became known as the brain’s default mode provoked renewed interest in what the brain and mind were doing when not engaged in the kinds of attentive practices that psychology had been, for a number of decades, so used to studying. In the talk I’ll discuss various moments (in psychology, psychoanalysis, psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience) that I am particularly interested in, as I try to build what I am loosely calling my ‘daydream archive’. In the process, I hope to say something about the epistemological challenges of modelling and investigating fugitive thought, and their implications for today’s academic configuration of the life sciences, humanities and interpretive social sciences.