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Things to Do With Texts: The Art of Reading


Admission requirements

You have received your propaedeutic diploma within one academic year and your academic results are good (indication: 7,3 average). Students who meet the criteria may apply for a place in the Humanities Lab.


The forms and functions of literature are manifold but depend on the arts of reading. We read to be moved, informed, enlightened, to be amused or to form an opinion. The ways in which we study and consult texts, meditate and comment on what has been written or delight in what we read have been crucial for education, imagination, debate and inquiry. This course looks at the ways literature has helped to make sense of the world. Students study the art of reading in a variety of texts that provided models for meditation, for study, for knowledge transfer, for artistic expression and communication.

We discuss the role of texts in disseminating knowledge and stories, in representing an opinion, in recording the past. We focus on the way people have approached text in different times and in different culturesin the Eastern and Western world. In this context we make use of the riches of the Leiden University Library to map the history of reading, writing and studying texts.

Course objectives

Students are introduced to and gain knowledge of:

  • Literature and its history and literary concepts

  • Theories and history of reading and readership in various traditions

Students learn to:

  • Contextualize literature within wider intellectual, artistic and historical cultures

  • Develop skills in analysis and interpretation of literary texts

  • Apply notions of literary criticism and theory in a historical perspective

Write an academic essay


Courses of the Humanities Lab are scheduled on Friday afternoon from 13.00 to 17.00. For the exact timetable, please visit the following website.

Mode of instruction

Seminar and Excursion.

Course Load

Seminars: 7 ×4 hours 28 hours Reading for class preparation: 48 hours Writing and revising of paper: 64 hours### Assessment method

Essay and participation.

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the final essay. Contact the course lecturer for more information.



Reading list

To be announced before the start of the course.


Students of the Humanities Lab will be registered via uSis by the administration of the Humanities Lab.


Dhr. Dr. G. Warnar
Dhr. Dr. A.A. Seyed-Gohrab

Humanities Lab:
Office: e-mail
Phone: 071-527 2228 or 071- 527 8039


If all participants of this course are Dutch native speakers, this course will be taught in Dutch.
More information: website.