Dreams: Our Mind by Night





Deirdre Barrett (Harvard Medical School)
Freshman Seminar 26F  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Note: The class will normally meet for 2 hours once a week. The time will be a half-hour longer in the weeks with field trips, film screenings, and final student presentations.


This seminar examines dreams with an emphasis on their relation to the creative process. It draws on psychology, neurophysiology, history, literature, film and other visual arts. We go on 3 field trips: to a dream artist’s studio, a Harvard Medical school traditional sleep laboratory, and an MIT lab specializing in portable home sleep monitoring equipment. The Fall 2021 seminar will include a special section on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our dreams.


You will keep a general dream journal and also record specific dream-related exercises such as dream incubation and lucidity practices through the first two-thirds of the seminar. You’ll choose a specialty topic of your choice in consultation with me and either 1) write an approximately 10 page term paper combining scholarly research with your own opinions and observations, or 2) propose a project of any other modality—examples have included making a film from a series of dreams, making a documentary about nightmares, writing a computer program which produced a simulated dream account for any topic it was given, painting a series of hypnagogic images with very short gallery-style paper on hypnagogic imagery. For either approach, you will also summarize your project orally in one of the last two class sessions.

See also: Fall 2022