DREAMLAND: The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and their Circle
Published July 2009 by Christine Burgin
128 pages with 75 color illustrations and DVD
Available from Amazon.
On the afternoon of August 28th 1909 Sigmund Freud visited Coney Island’s famous Dreamland amusement park. A hundred years later this, lively and imaginative book examines his legacy in Coney Island. It begins with Norman Klein’s reconstruction of his actual visit. However Freud’s real impact appears to have come later with the founding of the Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society. Zoe Beloff conjures up the world of this unique Society, whose forward-thinking attitude flourished from1926 through the early 1970s. The Society’s members, most of them working people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, wished to participate in one of the great intellectual movements of the 20th century. She explores their activities that included recreating their dreams on film and discusses the role of the society’s visionary founder Albert Grass who attempted to rebuild Dreamland according to Freud’s theory of dream formation.
Aaron Beebe, director of the Coney Island Museum, writes how his institution is reviving the idea of the living museum, that dates back to the early 19th century where art, science, spectacle and speculation coexist under one roof. Amy Herzog’s essay, “Primal Scenes: Sigmund Freud, Coney Island, and the Staging of Domestic Trauma” discusses how Freud’s theories can give us a deeper understanding of public’s fascination with some of Coney Islands unique attractions that include Liliputia, Baby Incubators and the World In Wax Musée.
The book is lavishly illustrated with 75 full color pictures of never before seen photographs, drawings and documents that shed new light on Coney Island’s mythic history. Included with the book is a DVD compilation of nine of the Society’s “Dream Films”.View the Society's award winning "Dream Films here.
About the Authors
Zoe Beloff an artist who is particularly fascinated by attempts to graphically manifest the unconscious processes of the mind. Aaron Beebe is an artist and director of the Coney Island Museum. Amy Herzog is an Associate Professor Media Studies at Queens College. Norman M. Klein is a cultural critic, and both an urban and media historian, as well as a novelist.