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The Creative Mind. A Humanities-Based Approach of the Human Psyche’s Hidden Potentials


Admission requirements

This course is an Honours Class and therefore in principle only available to students of the Honours College. There are a few places available for regular students.


This interdisciplinary honours class intends to explore a hitherto often neglected side of the human mind: its creativity. Through a series of lectures offering a variety of perspectives we will discuss the multiple approaches of the mind in its state of creative productivity. We will explore whether creativity is just an individual trait, or if it can be considered as a supra-individual effect, enhanced by collective behaviour. The main question is as follows: how, and under what conditions can the mind be creative, whether in art, philosophy, or science?

If we look at two approaches to explain human behaviour in the Psychology that in the earlier days have dominated or currently dominate – namely behaviorism (with its focus on learned behavior) or neurosciences (with their focus on brains and genes), it seems as if the human psyche’s inner creative and sensitive resources lost their scientific relevance. Promising, mostly 19th Century qualitative approaches to the soul originating in Romanticism were ‘abandoned’ and taken up by philosophy (phenomenology), literature and ‘psychical research’. Yet, when it comes to understanding the creative capacities of the human mind, in philosophy, science or art, quantitative approaches are hardly of any avail. Does not creativity explicitly thrive on breaking identifiable boundaries and measurable parameters? If so, aren’t humanities better equipped to do justice to the idiosyncrasies of the human psyche – to the extent that they can deal much better with singularity, uniqueness, introspection, etc.? This course will highlight the role of humanities in dealing with understanding various aspects of creativity.

Moreover, there are different angles one can take to look at the concept of ‘creativity’. Although it is interesting to study differences in creativity between persons – for instance, research on the brain or personality may shed some light on interpersonal differences – in this honors class we will also pay close attention to the approaches that focus on intrapersonal creative processes – for instance, when do people seem in particular open and susceptible to another reality? Creative products (history, literature, arts – par excellence the domain of humanities) as the primary bearers of creativity will also be considered.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • have a basic understanding of definitions of creativity that are used in different disciplines;

  • become familiar with current debates in the academic study of creativity;

  • gain understanding of theoretical models and analytic tools that can be used in studying creativity;

  • gain insight on possible practical applications of the theories of creativity.


Semester 2, block 3/4: Thursdays 11-13h, February 2, 9, 16, 23, March 2, 9, 23, 30, April 6, 13, 20, May 4.


Oude Sterrewacht.

2, 9, 16, 23 February and 2, 9, 23, March, 6, 13, 20 April and 4 May the class will take place in room C006. 30 March the class will take place in room number B005


Please note: this programme is provisional and themes are subject to change!
1. Introduction. What is creativity? Conceptual clarification
2. Historical perspectives: Romanticism and the ideal of the genius
3. Poetry and visionary faculties
4. Empirical research of creativity and hypersensitivity
5. Intuition, inspiration, and dreams
6. Creativity and the ‘paranormal’
7. Creativity and psychosis
8. Philosophical nomadism: feminism and the new
9. Creativity and ethics
10. Phenomenological perspectives on creativity and embodiment
11. Beyond the individual: enactive creativity in the context of sport
12. Practical application: creative affordances in art and architecture
13. Conclusive conference (to be organised by students)

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Seminars: 12 seminars of 2 hours = 24 hours

  • Student conference: 1 conference of 2 hours = 2 hours

  • Literature reading & preparation summary and questions: 48 hours

  • Time spent preparing oral contribution and student conference = 20 hours

  • Time spent writing final essay: 46 hours

Assessment method

  • 20% Weekly summaries of the reading material (max 300 words)

  • 20% Oral contributions in class, including asking questions and discussion

  • 10% Organisation of the student conference

  • 50% Final essay

Blackboard and uSis

Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard site two weeks prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Reading list

The readings for this course consist of a collection of research articles and book chapters. A detailed list will be made available on Blackboard in the last week of January 2017.


Enrolling in this course is possible from Monday November 7th until Sunday November 20th through the Honours Academy, via this link


dr. Rico Sneller