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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2004

T C 357 • The Dream in Literature, Philosophy, and Psychology

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39650 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
wag 210

Course Description

Dreams have (as in the History of Joseph and his Brothers in the Bible) been frequently used as prognostic instruments: they are supposed to predict the future. But a still more important function of dreams in literature and philosophy is their use as objects of comparison. Since the oldest times, the dream has served as a correlate to experienced reality, the only alternative experience to which we have access. Lao Tse was interested in the philosophical implications of dreams; like Descartes, he saw them as objects of comparison. Actually, dreams seem to be the only other form of experience with which we can compare our actual experience. And there is certainly the possibility that life itself is a dream. In poetry – especially Romantic poetry – and later in surrealism, dreams become very important. However, we also find them in such a work as Carl von Linnes Nemesis Divina. There is much philosophical talk about dreams from Descartes onward. They are an operation of the mind which create, as Roger Caillois has expressed, a fundamental uncertainty in our lives. Dreams also contain rich psychological material. The dream can become wiser than the world we find at awakening. The dream as we find it in Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams knows more about the dreamer than the dreamer knows about the dream.

About the Professor: Lars Gustafsson is the Jamail Distinguished Professor in the Plan II Program and has taught a number of Plan II courses in Literature and Philosophy. He is a Swedish writer and philosopher. Some twelve of his books are translated into English. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry and is a member of three European Academies, including the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering. Dr. Gustafsson was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in l997.

Grading Policy

30 % Class participation 30 % Oral reports of the readings 40 % Writing requirement; Three papers of approximately ten pages or more.


Literature: Some samples of early dream texts, including the Bible, Poetry, and some Folk Literature Calderon, Life as a Dream August Strindberg, A Dream Play Some surrealist Poetry John Berryman, Some of the Dream Songs Tomas Tranströmers, Dream Poem Philosophy: Some early texts: Lao Tse to Descartes Roger Caillois, "On The Uncertainty Which Comes From Dreams" Peter Gay, "On Dreams" Psychology: Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams Carl Jung, Text on Dreams. One modern neurological text


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