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Reading about Dreams in Traditional Religious Texts


Admission requirements



Everyone dreams. Dreaming also occupies a large space in our spiritual life. Throughout the history of religions, people across the world have reflected on dreams, interpreted dreams, and performed religious practices according to their understanding of dreaming. Equally importantly, people have written down and passed on dream-related texts; their accounts of dreams often embody the thinking and reality of a specific tradition. Studying these texts will enable us to gain insights into the religious lives of people across the world.

Designed as a seminar, this course will provide students with a guided reading of primary materials (in English translations) on dreams in various religious traditions worldwide. Furthermore, related academic works will also be introduced, not only to aid in the understanding of the texts in question but also to give students a sense of scholarly methods used for textual analysis.

Course objectives

This course will assist the students in:

  • Analysing and exploring a specific topic (i.e. dreams in this case) in various religious contexts.

  • Gaining a familiarity with religious traditions and their correspondent text corpora involved in this course, contextualising them with the aid of secondary scholarship.

  • Being exposed to basic terms, theories, and methodologies of the field of Religious Studies.

Transferable Skills:

  • Developing basic textual analysis skills and applying them to the primary resources.

  • Reading scholarly works critically and evaluating the methods and arguments deployed.

  • Actively engaging in academic discussion and expressing themselves clearly, both orally and in writing.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


There are three components of the grade for this course:

  • Attendance and Seminar Participations;

  • Reading Responses;

  • Essay.


  • Attendance and Seminar Participations (20%): As a reading seminar, for obvious reasons, the students are required to be present. Unexcused absence will only be allowed up to two times. Further, students are expected to be prepared to participate in the discussion of every session, including but not limited to raising questions, providing his/her own opinion about the assigned readings, and discussing others’ reading responses.

  • Reading Responses (40%): As the main purpose of the course is to facilitate the development of students’ skill in textual analysis, students are asked to write a two-page reading response every session, the contents of which should be his/her own thinking on the assigned readings of the next session. The reading responses should be submitted at least 24 hours before the next session.

  • Essay (40%): Students will prepare a research essay of 3000 – 3500 words. The essay should be on a dream-related traditional religious text, either from the works we have discussed or from elsewhere; ideally, the material should be included in our required books. The topic will be agreed with the instructor in advance.


A resit of the essay is possible only when the total weighted grade is lower than 5.50 and the insufficient grade is the result of an insufficient essay. In that case the instructor of the course may give a new deadline. There are no resit opportunities for the other two components.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Bulkeley, Kelly. Dreaming in the world's religions: A comparative history. NYU Press, 2008.
Shulman, David, and Guy G. Stroumsa, eds. Dream cultures: Explorations in the comparative history of dreaming. Oxford University Press, 1999.
The e-books can be accessed online through the Leiden University Library.
Further reading assignments will be provided via Brightspace.


  • Enrolment through uSis for seminars is mandatory.

  • General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs.


Yixiu Jiang MA


Not applicable.