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

Cultural Studies Portal

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A Brief Introduction to Japanese Religions I

Over the course of this module, we will cover the basics of Japanese religious history. Particular areas of focus will be Shintō 神道 tradition and various forms of Japanese Buddhism, shamanism, and Shugendō 修験道. Time permitting (unlikely) we can also touch upon Japanese New Religions and/or Japanese Christianity.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

A Brief Introduction to Japanese Religions II

Picking up from where we left off in the first module, we will continue to explore the basics of Japanese religious history.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

An Intensive Reading of the Tao Te Ching/Daode jing 道德經 Part II

We will continue onwards with our intensive reading and discussion of the text from wherever we end in "An Intensive Reading of the Tao Te Ching/Daode jing 道德經".
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Art History – A Thousand Stories (Series)

Whenever we see a painting or a sculpture we might think many different things; we might wonder why we like or dislike it; what is its meaning; and why the artist created it in that way.

In this series we will explore different art periods, movements, and artists. We will discuss the context, symbolism, style, and what each of these periods/ movement/ artists tells us today.

Some of the questions we will ask during these modules are: what is art? How is art different from arts and crafts? What is the purpose of art? Why are some art pieces famous? What are some of the most prominent styles? Why are some artists, such as Vincent Van Gogh, so popular today but not during their own time? How and why do we relate to different pieces in different ways and with different emotional responses?

Each module stands on its own and no previous knowledge of Art History is required. The idea is to engage with the different topics from different lenses and to share different ideas and opinions about them.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

A Sip of Tea and Tea Culture

In this module we will explore the cultural history of tea production, tea consumption, and tea-related cultural forms and practices. Primary focus will be on Asia, with side-expeditions to other parts of the world. White, green, Oolong, red (black), the Silk Road, tea bricks, tea ceremonies, tea-and-Zen, tea as world commodity, tea as entheogen---we can explore all of this and more!
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Conversational Japanese for Daily Life

Japanese is a complex language with a strong emphasis on formality. In any given situation, there are multiple ways to communicate the same idea. This course will introduce some of those common situations in daily life and offer some practical, useful, and modern ways to communicate within them.
Precepted by Sam Roche

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

C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves and Greek Philosophy

What is love? This is the question C.S. Lewis explored in his classic book, The Four Loves. Over four weeks, we will read and discuss The Four Loves as a class, exploring his four classifications and their philosophical underpinnings. Comparing and contrasting Lewis with short excerpts from Plato's Symposium and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, we will explore the themes of affection, friendship, eros and charity.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Eating Our Way Through Anime

What can a carefully arranged bento box show us about a protagonist’s emotions? How does a steaming bowl of ramen help tell a story? Anime is known for its detailed, mouthwatering portrayals of food. But what exactly makes these artistic culinary delights so special, and why do we keep coming back for more?

In this module, we will consider many aspects of food in anime and its relationship with fandom, culture, and history, and how food signals certain things about characters, settings, and relationships.

Come help us eat our way through anime!

Exploring Romance of the Three Kingdoms 三國演義

Considered to be one the major classics of pre-modern Chinese literature, Romance of the Three Kingdoms focuses on a story of political and military struggle featuring an impressive array of characters, many of whom have become touchstones of Chinese cultural heritage and artistic interest. This novel has spawned a wide arrange of operas, stories, video game series, musical compositions, television and web series, as well as garnering much academic attention since it was first published in the 14th century. Join us as we read, discuss, analyze, and place in its cultural and historical contexts this major work of Chinese historical fiction.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book 枕草子

Sei Shōnagon 清少納言 is a major writer of the Heian period (794-1185) whose Makura no Sōshi 枕草子 (The Pillow Book) has intrigued and delighted reading audiences for centuries. Colorful, witty, incisive, charming, thoughtful, melancholy, poetic---these qualities and more characterize this diary of the famous lady of the court. Join us as we read this text in-depth and place it within the frame of the flow of Japanese culture and history.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

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

HSK Mandarin 1 First in the Series

In this first module, students will be introduced to Mandarin—the language used throughout most of China. Students will get a sense for the tone system, basic grammatical structure, Pinyin, Chinese characters, and some snippets of useful, conversational Mandarin. We will follow the HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test-Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi 汉语水平考试 ) Standard Course Curriculum for HSK Level 1.

Main topics for this module include:
1. An emphasis on Pinyin (the method of romanized transliteration for Chinese)
2. An introduction to reading and writing Chinese characters (Simplified, not traditional)
3. Basic grammar and vocabulary
4. Conversation

We will also look at some authentic materials, including song lyrics and dialogue from popular T.V. and movies. These will help to give us context for what we are learning and gauge where we are in our journey.

If you've ever wished to understand and speak Mandarin, here's a great stepping stone to get you started!
Precepted by Sam Roche

HSK Mandarin Series Series

This series is for people looking to begin their journey with Mandarin--the language spoken throughout much of China and its surrounding territories. We will follow the HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test-Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi 汉语水平考试 ) Standard Course Curriculum for HSK Level 1.

Throughout the course we will also look at some authentic materials, including song lyrics and dialogue from popular T.V. and movies. These will help to give us context for what we are learning and gauge where we are in our journey.

If you've ever wished to understand and speak Mandarin, here's a great stepping stone to get you started!
Precepted by Sam Roche

His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass

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: The Golden Compass (a.k.a. Northern Lights) (October 2023)

• Module 2: His Dark Materials in Context: The Subtle Knife (December 2023)

• Module 3: His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass (January 2023)

His Dark Materials in Context: The Golden Compass

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: The Golden Compass (a.k.a. Northern Lights) (October 2023)

• Module 2: His Dark Materials in Context: The Subtle Knife (December 2023)

• Module 3: His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass (January 2023)

His Dark Materials in Context: The Subtle Knife

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: The Golden Compass (a.k.a. Northern Lights) (October 2023)

• Module 2: His Dark Materials in Context: The Subtle Knife (December 2023)

• Module 3: His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass (January 2023)

Intro to Fan Fiction

What is fan fiction? Where did it come from? Why do people read and write it?

This module will explore fan fiction as a platform, independent of any particular universe (although we will touch on several, based on student input), including its origins, conventions and techniques, purposes, and the opinions of a variety of different stake holders: authors, show creators, and legal experts among them. Students will complete this course with a high-level understanding of fan fiction as genre, community, and as a transformative response to the source material.

Japanese for Advanced Beginners Series of 10

In this series, we will continue to explore the beauty of the Japanese language and culture. We will read tales, learn more complex structures, widen general vocabulary, and we will also start reading and writing kanji. みなさん、これからも一緒に日本語を勉強したい!楽しみにしています!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Japanese: From Zero Series of 14

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to begin studying Japanese. We will begin by learning Hiragana and Katakana and cover some basic grammatical structures. We will also cover some conversational Japanese and explore how it is used in anime, manga, and music.

This Japanese module has the potential to grow into a series of beginner courses. Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 1 First in the Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to begin studying Japanese. We will begin by learning Hiragana and Katakana and cover some basic grammatical structures. We will also cover some conversational Japanese and explore how it is used in anime, manga, and music.

This Japanese module has the potential to grow into a series of beginner courses. Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 10 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, and covering grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 11 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, and covering grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 12 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, and covering grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 13 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, and covering grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 14 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, and covering grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 2 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana and Katakana and will cover basic grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 3 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana and Katakana and will cover basic grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 4 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana and Katakana and will cover basic grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 5 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana and Katakana and will cover basic grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 6 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana and Katakana and will cover basic grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 7 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana and Katakana and will cover basic grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 8 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, and covering grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese: From Zero - 9 Continuing Series

This course is for those who have an interest in Japanese culture and wish to continue our study of Japanese. We will continue using Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, and covering grammatical structures. Through use of conversational Japanese, we will continue to explore how the language is used in anime, manga, and music.

Japanese is a language of great nuance and depth. This module will open the door to that world and build a foundation for greater insight into Japan's culture and its people.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Japanese Through Lyrics

The goal of this course is to study Japanese by analyzing song lyrics. While there will be an initial list of songs, students will be invited to either choose or vote on songs they would like to analyze (depending on number of students), and then we will spend each class studying the vocabulary and grammar contained in those songs.
Precepted by Sam Roche

Representing Utopia through the Ages

While the idea of establishing an ‘actual’ utopia has been disparaged since the first half of the twentieth century from socio-political perspectives (e.g. the failed age of ideology from 1917-1945), literary and related cultural narratives have a long history of imagining and representing utopia (also paradise, the golden age, etc.). These utopias often function to criticize the problematic social norms and climates of their times as well as providing progressive imaginings for a better future, often based on certain ideals or virtues. In this module, we go on a chronological tour of different representations of utopia, including: the paleolithic utopia of hunter-gatherers (e.g. as discussed in Harari’s Homo Sapiens) (before 10,000 BC), the Bronze Age utopia of Minoan Crete (4000-1400 BCE), Plato’s mythical island of Atlantis (ca 400 BC), the pastoral utopia of the Roman poet Virgil (ca 40 BC), the New World utopia of Sir Thomas More (1516), the Enlightened, reasoned utopia of Robinson Crusoe (1719), Tolkien’s fantasy utopia of Númenor (ca 1940), and more.

Russian Fairy Tales: Journeys, Quests, and Chicken Legs

In this module we will explore some of the most important Russian fairy tales, their archetypal characters, and beautiful imagery. We will travel to magical lands and meet incredible characters, even a talking pancake!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

The Body in Tolkien's Legendarium

This module will focus on bodies in Middle-earth from a multitude of directions and fields of enquiry. We will address fascinating subjects such as Sauron's body, the physical differences between Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White and the age old question "Do Balrogs have wings?" [No, the case is not settled on this.] We will explore how Tolkien writes about gendered and racialized bodies and how he uses slap-stick carnivalesque bodily humor in The Hobbit. We will explore the artwork and film images too. The point will be that bodies very much mattered in the narratives that make up Tolkien's Cauldron of Story, and they matter in his Legendarium!
Precepted by Dr. Chris Vaccaro

The Life and Legend of St Nicholas

Who was the real historical figure behind Santa Claus? In this module, we will read aloud the earliest biographical sources about fourth century bishop, St Nicholas of Myra. Your preceptor will facilitate discussions of Nicholas' historical context and examine the development of his legend. Together, we will examine Byzantine stories of Nicholas' benefaction and miracles, his role as patron saint of seafarers, students and merchants (among others), and how he came to embody the tradition of gift-giving in Christendom. A wonderful end-of-year treat!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

The Minoans and Modernity: Minotaurs, Labyrinths, and Other Myths

When one thinks of ancient, pre-classical civilisations, one thinks of Sumerians, Egyptians, Hittites, and, not least, Minoans. The Minoan civilisation, discovered around 1900 by English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, has often been styled as the first major European civilisation, equally proficient in technology and the arts, with a sea empire spanning across the Eastern Aegean. But how much of what we imagine about the Minoans is truthful and how much is modern mythmaking?

In this module, we will examine the immense impact which the discovery of Minoan Crete and its integration with the classical myths of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth has had on literature, movies, the arts, and even computer games. We will examine the works of Sir Arthur Evans, Pablo Picasso, Nikos Kazantzakis, Robert Graves, Mary Renault, Poul Anderson, and Stephen King, among others. In so doing, we will explore such key 'Minoan' concepts and phenomena as: the sublime, utopianism, feminism, irrationality and the unconscious, mythmaking, and European identity.

Tolkien and the Classical World

Based on the preceptor's edited volume, Tolkien and the Classical World, this module takes students on a tour of the classical influences and ideas on the life, writings, and thought of English fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, while also introducing seminal Greco-Roman texts to those without any classical background.

Ubuntu: An Introduction to African Philosophy

Ubuntu has been described as Africa's greatest gift to the world; a philosophy that covers various aspects of humanity, human life—being human. In this module we will be discussing ubuntu as a concept that covers:
- moral philosophy
- human dignity
- human rights
- substantive equality
- human connection
... And, how ubuntu can help explain and address the current most pressing problems.

The module will help in making the philosophy understandable to all audiences, especially considering its uptake and misrepresentation in the media and various platforms. The module goes beyond the usual simplifications of the philosophy and gives an in-depth and yet understandable analysis of the practical concepts within the philosophy, including their usage in solving contemporary problems, from personal/intimate to structural problems.
Precepted by Ishmael Bhila

Viking Hogwarts: The World Of Old Norse Sorcery Series of 3

This is the Landing Page for Prof. Irina Manea's Viking Hogwarts series exploring The World of Old Norse Sorcery.

Module 1 we will be critically exploring the sources for such powerful practices, the vocabulary of sorcery, as well as attempting to enter the Viking soul in search of its logic and manifestations through everyday witchcraft, while confronting the great hindrances in the study of an elusive phenomenon.

Module 2 takes a closer look at the most violent practices in Old Norse Sorcery. Beyond domestic practices, sorcerous aggression manifested e.g. through driving the enemy insane, sending spirits to attack, causing misfortune and on a much broader scale on the battlefield. The elements of sorcery buried deep in the often problematic sources might help us better understand the potential mindset of pre-Christian Northern peoples and illuminated the often too tightly defined warrior identity.

Module 3 attempts to integrate the evidence from literary and archaeological sources into a broader context of shamanistic northern religions.
Precepted by Dr. Irina Manea

Viking Hogwarts: The World Of Old Norse Sorcery 1 First in the Series

Whereas figures like Odin, Thor or Freyr dominate the Viking mythical landscape, Norse spirituality goes way beyond the texts of the Poetic Edda. For the Viking mind, spirituality would have infused all aspects of daily life in a fascinating mix of sacred and profane.

Paganism was most likely never a unified system of belief, and may have been much more complex and diverse than our current sources can let us know. Beyond semi-structured beliefs, we also encounter more practical forms actively trying to influence the environment – sorcery, most often referred to as seidr, a collective term to designate soothsaying, divination, healing, controlling weather, battle magic and much more.

In this module we will be critically exploring the sources for such powerful practices, the vocabulary of sorcery, as well as attempting to enter the Viking soul in search of its logic and manifestations through everyday witchcraft, while confronting the great hindrances in the study of an elusive phenomenon.

Why is Odin a god of sorcery? Who performed magic in Viking times? Was it gendered? Was sexuality involved? What did magic reveal, and how was it perceived? Put your name into the goblet of mead and let‘s get started.
Precepted by Dr. Irina Manea

Viking Hogwarts: The World of Old Norse Sorcery 2 Continuing Series

After having discussed the complex phenomenon of seidr magic in module 1, we are going to have a closer look at its most violent practices. Beyond domestic practices, sorcerous aggression manifested e.g. through driving the enemy insane, sending spirits to attack, causing misfortune and on a much broader scale on the battlefield.

A clear projection of supernatural intervention is offered by Odin‘s servants the valkyrjur, but also shapeshifting berserkers caught by ritual frenzy, with powers stemming from Odin himself, “The Terrible” in his sorcerous role. Battle spells also seem to have been preserved as literary remnants with a chance at authenticity derived from ideas in older poems, like ideas about war-fettering, invulnerability or disguise.

These elements of sorcery buried deep in the often problematic sources might help us better understand the potential mindset of pre-Christian Northern peoples and illuminated the often too tightly defined warrior identity.
Precepted by Dr. Irina Manea

Viking Hogwarts: The World Of Old Norse Sorcery 3 Continuing Series

In the third part of the module series on Norse magic, we will attempt to integrate the evidence from literary and archaeological sources into a broader context of shamanistic northern religions.

In the Icelandic sagas in particular, there are indications about the operative magical practices of the Sámi - one famous queen, Gunnhild (the wife of Eric Bloodaxe) is even said to have travelled to the Finns to get sorcerous instruction. In Norse myth, cosmology dwells on the world pillar, the ash tree Yggdrassil, while Odin's horse Sleipnir has the power to cross between worlds.

Shamanism as a means of accessing supernatural forces through ecstasy may have enhanced the Viking mind with challenging ideas about gender, shapeshifting, or violence that are well worth our attention.
Precepted by Dr. Irina Manea

Yōkai and Legends: Exploring the Weird in Japanese and Latin American Cultures

Ghost stories are an important element from all cultures, but in weird and, of course, mysterious ways, there seem to be similar legends and stories of Yōkai in Japanese and Latin American Cultures. From the similarities of Obon with Día de los Muertos to different legends such as Kuchisake onna and La Llorona, we will discuss these legends within their cultural context and have fun with these weird and fantastic beings.

Zen History and Thought: An Overview

In this module we will examine the origins and development of Zen Buddhism from its roots in Mahayana and Daoist thought through its formative years in China and its spread to Korea and Japan. Among other topics, we should have time to cover the Patriarchs of Zen, the Five Houses of Zen, and major figures within the tradition. We will also gesture towards Zen's impact on East Asian arts and culture more generally.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].