Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Adaptation Theory Portal

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Creative Writing: Aristotle's Poetics for Story-Tellers

What makes a good story? How can we make our characters feel like real people?

Using a combination of recorded lectures, in-class discussion and exercises, you will find out how to employ Aristotle’s precepts on character, theme and emotional catharsis to enrich your creative practice. You will also discover how Aristotle’s teleological understanding of causality can help you discover the final design of your creative work. This module will be a must for fiction authors, screenwriters and directors, RPG game masters, or anyone who wants to weave a dynamic tale!

The module will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: Introduction to the Poetics
• Workshop 1: Your Narrative's Purpose

• Lecture 2: Character and Theme
• Workshop 2: Discovering Your Character and Theme

• Lecture 3: Structure
• Workshop 3: Unfolding Your Story's Structure

• Lecture 4: Catharsis
• Workshop 4: Sticking the Landing
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Fairy Tales Studies: Exploring Fairy Tales from Around the World and from Different Authors

Sudying fairy tales takes us back to a time when stories where passed from culture to culture. These stories, replicated around the world, deal with fears and axieties, but they also give us hope as it is the smallest and most vulnerable the one who usually triumphs.

In these modules, we will explore different authors and fairy tales from around the world. Students will have the opportunity to read and re-read the Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Andersen, Andrew Lang, Oscar Wilde and fairy tales from differnet cultures such as Russia, and Japan. Each month, our preceptors will survey the group using to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

We offer the following Fairy Tales Studies modules:
Fairy Tales: An Adventure from the Writer's Perspective
Fairy Tales: From Apples to Bears
Fairy Tales: Rats, Mice, and Birds
Fairy Tales: Tricksters, Fools, and Villains
Introduction to Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales
Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales: A House of Pomegranates
Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales: The Happy Prince and Other Tales
Japanese Fairy Tales and Children's Literature
Russian Fairy Tales: Journeys, Quests, and Chicken Legs
Yōkai and Legends: Exploring the Weird in Japanese and Latin American Cultures
Encountering the Japanese Weird through Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan
Exploring Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham
Fairy Tales: Beauty and the Beast

Note: Each module stands on its own and no previous knowledge is required. The idea is to read and discuss these stories, their themes, imagery, and see how we respond to them.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Midst: Adventures in Unusual Storytelling

The Midst podcast (which can be found at http://www.midst.co) is a strange and compelling space western horror science fantasy. . . hmmm. Let me start again.

Midst is a planetoid revolving in a cosmos very unlike our own, one that contains strange creatures bred from The Fold, a supernatural phenomenon that. . . no that's not it either.

This module will be a discussion guide to one of the most compellingly weird podcasts I've run across ever. I'm talking Welcome to Nightvale weird. The story is told by three anonymous and quite probably unreliable narrators, does not stick to usual story structures, veers off on tangents, and lands everything in a series of climactic episodes that are simply stunning. What we will be doing is experiencing season 1 of this podcast together and looking at how they are using various tools to tell this story, and whether they really are abandoning a lot of conventional storytelling wisdom. (Spoiler alert, I don't think they are.)

You will listen to all nineteen episodes over the course of the class. In class, we will discuss the episodes you've heard, using the frame of questions I will give you ahead of time. Our goal will be to tease out the various storytelling tools the writers used in the creation of their remarkable story. Some of these will be familiar literary tools, others will involve how they use sound and effects to heighten their narration. As each episode is on the order of half an hour long, you will have heard nine to ten hours of audio by the time the class ends.

I love this story and the way the writers have chosen to tell it. I would love to share that with you.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Text, Translation, Film

Can Sir Gawain keep his honor without losing his head? This short classic of Middle English chivalric romance follows Gawain on a quest testing his heroism, social etiquette, sexual virtue, and existential sense of self. This course explores: first, the extraordinary history of the single, unique manuscript which preserves this poem (as it “slept” on a library shelf for 400 years, escaped destruction by fire, and was eventually rediscovered in the 19th century); second, the translations which brought this poem to a twentieth century readership – focusing in particular on J.R.R. Tolkien’s; and finally, the 2021 film by David Lowery.
Precepted by Dr. Liam Daley

Shakespeare's Epic Fairy Tales: "The Winter's Tale" and "The Two Noble Kinsmen"

This module continues the examination of Shakespeare’s late work with two baffling and beautiful plays. "The Winter’s Tale" begs the question: where does art end and magic begin? Containing the bard’s most famous stage direction—“Exit, pursued by a bear”—this tale of jealousy and forgiveness transforms from domestic tragedy into pastoral comedy, before finally arriving Shakespeare’s strangest endings. "The Two Noble Kinsmen", Shakespeare’s final work, gives Chaucer’s Middle English "The Knight’s Tale" a Renaissance rewrite. Co-authored with rising start of the Jacobean stage, John Fletcher, this tragicomedy expands the scope of Chaucer’s female characters while hinting at range of suppressed, taboo romantic desires. Blending the poignant and the absurd, the playwrights claim they only hope their “modern” adaptation won’t raise Chaucer’s angry ghost!
Precepted by Dr. Liam Daley

"The Last of Us" in Adaptation

HBO’s new “The Last of Us” TV show (2023) is widely hailed as the best adaptation of a video game. “The Last of Us” video game (2013) tells the story of a cynical older man befriending a young girl during a zombie apocalypse. The game received praise for its subtle storytelling and strong characterizations. The lead creator of the game is also a showrunner and insisted that HBO remain faithful to the game. However, the show uses the freedom of TV to expand upon the backstories of characters. In this course, we will watch the TV show and play the video game simultaneously. We will then discuss how the genre/medium of each affects adaptation choices.

Note: Students do not need to have watched the show or played the game beforehand, but will need to have access to both. Students can also watch a walkthrough of "The Last of Us" in lieu of playing the game.
Precepted by Dominic Nardi

The Music of Middle Earth

In this module we will explore the musical storytelling of works related to the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. This discussion-based course is not targeted to musicians, and no prior musical knowledge or skill set is required. Rather, the course seeks to discuss how music can tell stories, and how music interacts with text, poetry, and adaptation. A familiarity with the work of Professor Tolkien is very helpful.

This course will study three types of musical adaptation: music inspired by Tolkien’s writing, work that has taken Tolkien’s poetry and put it to music, and music written for adaptations of Tolkien’s work. Each of these types of composition comes with their own unique storytelling approaches and outcomes.

Session 1: Johan de Meij, "Symphony No. 1: The Lord of the Rings"
Session 2: Martin Romberg, "Symphonic Poem, Telperion and Laurelin"
Session 3: Paul Corfield Godfrey: “The Tolkien Cycle”
Session 4: John Sangster, "The Hobbit Suite"
Session 5: The Tolkien Ensemble, "An Evening in Rivendell"
Session 6: Donald Swann: “The Road Goes Ever On, a Song Cycle”
Session 7: Howard Shore, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Session 8: Bear McCreary, "The Rings of Power, Season One"
Precepted by Jack Schabert

Video Game Studies

Inviting students to share their delight in, and deepen their appreciation of, video games, we will discuss examples of the art, music, gameplay, and story from a range of influential titles. We will introduce and experiment with some of the theoretical frameworks that have been applied to video games as media objects and cultural artifacts. But mostly, we will enjoy learning more about the medium and the games we already love. Aside from links and selections shared throughout the module, Gabrielle Zevin's novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. will be the only required reading.
Precepted by Wesley Schantz
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].