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

Children’s Literature Portal

Advanced Old English Readings: Alice in Wonderland

Dr. Peter Baker, then of the University of Virginia, translated Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland into Old English. This module will work with and translate back into Modern English this fun and delightful text, Æðelgyðe Ellendæda on Wundorlande: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in Old English.
Precepted by Larry Swain.

Creative Writing: Oral Storytelling

Storytelling might just be our oldest art, crossing time, cultures, and continents. Crafting a story suitable for telling demands a heightened awareness of audience, medium, and meaning. Telling a story requires fluidity in a register both intimate and stylized. We'll learn, create, and tell our short tales in a month of cooperative fun and work. We will use a collaborative and encouraging mode of feedback. You will end the month with two or three new stories to revise and practice and a toolkit for exploring this art.
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Fairy Tales: Beauty and the Beast

In this module we will explore Beauty and the Beast in different versions and media. We’ll compare other similar stories and discuss its main themes, motifs, and imagery. We will read and view versions from Andrew Lang, the Grimm's Brothers, Disney, and more!

Note: Texts will be provided by the preceptors.

Here Be Dragons

You wouldn't want to end up like Eustace Clarence Scrubb, would you: strong on imports and exports, but weak on dragons? To avoid that fate, come and talk about dragons old and new, wicked and glorious, beloved and feared in many a tale. Python, Hydra, Draco, Leviathan and the Colchian dragon threatened Classical heroes. Germanic gods and warriors contended with Níðhöggr, Jörmungandr, Starkheart, and Fafnir. There are dragons in Arthuriana and medieval folklore. And of course, dragons proliferate in more recent fantasy, including those by Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ursula K. LeGuin, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Christopher Paolini, and more. We'll read short excerpts from a wide range of European and American literature, looking at the evolution of the dragon, and attendees will be encouraged to bring in additional texts for discussion. You'll be well prepared for sleeping on a dragon's hoard after this!
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

His Dark Materials in Context [3 Module Series] Series

Sir Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is widely regarded as a modern classic, has been described by The New Statesman as “the most ambitious work since The Lord of the Rings,” and has been adapted onto stage, radio, and screen. The series is also deep and complex, drawing from a rich array of literary, philosophical, and theological ideas.

In this three-module series we will read, successively, the three novels in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, juxtaposing each with selected materials that will allow us to read Pullman’s work both on its own and in conversation with other works. Students can join one, two, or all three modules. There are no prerequisites.

Module 1: His Dark Materials in Context 1: The Golden Compass / Northern Lights
Module 2: His Dark Materials in Context 2: The Subtle Knife
Module 3: His Dark Materials in Context 3: The Amber Spyglass
Precepted by Faith Acker and Gabriel Schenk.

Japanese Fairy Tales and Children's Literature

In this module we will talk about Japanese children’s literature and fairy tales and their connection to specific Japanese cultural aspects and values such as the acceptance of death and the imperfection of the world.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Le Guin's Earthsea Series

Ursula K. Le Guin explores themes of power, love, nature, gender, art, politics, and more through her richly-developed world of Earthsea, drawing upon literary, philosophical, religious, and anthropological interests in doing so. We will walk on the islands of Earthsea and dive into its waters as we discover beloved, and maybe hidden or controversial, aspects of Le Guin’s masterpiece.

This present module is for Cycle 1 of the Earthsea Series, exploring A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan.

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The Earthsea Series consists of 3 modules exploring a different Cycle of Le Guin's expansive work:
• Cycle 1 explores A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan,
• Cycle 2 explores The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, and
• Cycle 3 explores The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea
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NOTE: Students can jump in at any month/part of the Series.

Precepted by Robert Steed.

Meeting the Horned God of the Witches

The Horned God, alongside being modern paganism's most popular deity, enjoys a rich heritage in speculative fiction and popular culture. In this module, we will explore his ancient (and modern) origins, his appearances in both esoteric and popular literature, and his surprising role as an environmental figure. Throughout the module, students will gain familiarity with the four core figures that make up the Horned God (Pan, Cernunnos, the Sorcerer of Trois Freres, and Herne the Hunter), and key narratives associated with him. They will also have an opportunity to ponder the complex web of influences between modern paganism and speculative fiction.

This module builds on the work of Margaret Murray and the module 'The Witch-Cult Hypothesis', but does not require prior knowledge of the material covered there.
Precepted by Anna Milon.

Narnia and the Natural World

Join me for a re-read of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis as we pay close attention to descriptions of the non-human environment. What do these books have to say about trees, plants, animals, soil, weather, the planet, atmosphere, stars, and more? Do they suggest right ways of flourishing in relation to the natural world? How do talking animals, walking trees, humanoid stars, magical waters, and mythical beasts teach us to love the creatures and creations of this primary world better? Let's rejoice in Lewis's loving descriptions of flora and fauna and revel in the wonder his magical world brings to our own.

(Note: This module is designed with Narnia fans in mind. First-time readers of the Chronicles are certainly welcome, but newcomers might prefer starting with Elise Trudel Cedeño's module on The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe or with Sørina Higgins's Narnia for Newbies.)
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Narnia for Newbies Series

This is the Landing Page for Prof. Higgins' Narnia for Newbies Series exploring CS Lewis's beloved Narnia series, consisting of 7 modules (one module for each book in the Series).

Did you miss out on entering the magical land of Narnia as a kid? Come back to childhood with me as we open the wardrobe door and enter this wondrous land together. Travel with Lucy through the snowy, enchanted Lantern Waste, where is it always winter but never Christmas. Fight alongside dryads against an evil usurper. Sail with Eustace across the seas to mysterious islands full of invisible beings, dragons, and dreams. Ride a talking horse across the desert to save Narnia from invasion. Rescue a prince from the underworld. Watch creation itself, as Aslan, the great Lion, sings the world into existence. Be there at the end of all things, when the true tale is just beginning. Most of all, experience again the thrill of journeying through an imaginary land where myths are real, good triumphs over evil, and magic brings beauty to life on the page.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Nordic Madness: Exploring Children's Literature in Three Nordic Authors

In this module we will join the madness, adventure and melancholy of three famous Nordic authors: Hans Christian Andersen, Astrid Lindgren, and Tove Jansson; from the tragic unrequited love of a snowman to the crazy adventures of Pippi Longstocking and the Moomins, this module is a rollercoaster of emotions and beautiful images. You will need two books: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Planet Narnia

Do you believe that the Narnia chronicles have a secret code hidden in their imagery and themes? Would knowledge of medieval astronomy and astrology add depth to our reading of these children's books? We'll read Michael Ward's book Planet Narnia in conjunction with a re-read of the Narnia itself and debate the merits of his planetary interpretation. This course will work best for those who have read Lewis's series before.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

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.

Writers' Workshop: The Different Body Problem

It's a sometimes inconvenient fact that characters have bodies, and sometimes, those bodies directly affect the stories we write about them. Writing characters who live in bodies that do not perform according to the cultural standard is a skill like any other part of the writer's craft.

In this course, we will look at examples from literature of how authors have dealt with what we usually call disabilities. Some have done well, others have materially harmed people with their writing.

We will also work with one another to hone our craft as writers who are telling stories so that we can find the new and inspirational, while leaving behind the worn-out clichés that make the lives of people like your preceptor materially harder.

Note: Texts will be provided by the preceptor.
Precepted by Chris Bartlett.

Writing for Children

What makes a good children’s story? We’re going to address chapter books, cultural stories, and learning tales all through a lens of moral, cultural, and spiritual human development. Trying our hands at these forms should lead us to a nice folder full of works-in-progress at the end of the month. The December iteration of this module is designed to complete one treasured story gift for the holidays.
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].