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

Ecocriticism Portal

Or view as a table.

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

In the Age of Wonder: The Many Themes of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal, a film directed and created by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, was released at Christmastime in 1982. An attempt at a more mature and decidedly darker direction for Henson, it performed modestly in the box office to mixed reviews. Despite its poor initial beginnings, over the next 42 years, The Dark Crystal became a cult classic. Why the appeal all these years later? In this class we will explore this multifaceted dark fantasy as a stand of world building from the better appreciated “Muppet” canon. Over the course of eight sessions we will discuss the world of Thra through the film itself, seen afresh with the new lenses of various forms of modern criticism. Please join us for a combination of short lectures and lively discussion of this visual and technical masterpiece whether you’re a long-time fan or neophyte.
Precepted by Kerra Fletcher and Jay Moses

Le Guin's Earthsea Series Series of 3

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.

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

Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Le Guin's Earthsea Series: A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan First in the Series

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

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.

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

Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Le Guin's Earthsea Series: The Farthest Shore and Tehanu Continuing Series

This present module is for Module 2 of the Earthsea Series, exploring_The Farthest Shore_ and Tehanu.

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.

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

Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Le Guin's Earthsea Series: The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea Continuing Series

This present module is for Module 3 of the Earthsea Series, exploring_The Other Wind_ and Tales from Earthsea.

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.

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

Precepted by Dr. 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 Dr. Anna Milon

Meet The Last Man

One of the most relevant novels you could read right now was written almost two centuries ago. Mary Shelley’s The Last Man asks what it means to be human while living in unprecedented times. This 1826 classic of apocalyptic science fiction considers the implications of a global pandemic, a rapidly changing environment, and the failures of political and social institutions. Part imaginative autobiography, part science fictional warning, and part ecocritical thought experiment, The Last Man forces us to examine our assumptions about our present and future.

In this module we will consider Mary Shelley’s novel in the context of her life, times, and intellectual history. We will also explore the afterlife of The Last Man in critical discussions of the ominously similar challenges we face in the 21st century. In the process, we will discuss the novel’s lasting meanings and contributions as pioneering work of speculative fiction.
Precepted by Dr. Amy H. Sturgis

Tolkien and the Romantics: Dark Romanticism and the Gothic Literary Tradition

The Gothic genre has inspired many creative minds to explore the darker realms of human psychology and the wider world, sparking fear, terror, horror and repulsion in its audience. J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth is as much a ruined Gothic wasteland as it is an idyllic utopia. From Shelob's cave and the hypnotic Mirkwood to the Paths of the Dead and the Barrow-Downs, this module will examine Tolkien's use of Dark Romantic and Gothic techniques that were used by writers such as Horace Walpole, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and E.T.A. Hoffman to strike terror in the heart of their readers.

The module will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: The Funk of Forty Thousand Years: A Literary History of the Gothic
• Workshop 1: Chilly Echoes in Tolkien's Middle-earth
• Lecture 2: Bottomless Supernatural: Terror, Horror, Abject
• Workshop 2: Conjuring Creepy Creatures
• Lecture 3: The Weird, the Eerie, and the Dark Side of the Mind
• Workshop 3: Defamiliarising Middle-earth
• Lecture 4: Ruined Landscapes
• Workshop 4: What is left? Can the Gothic recover Middle-earth?

Note: The hybrid 8-lesson structure above is the new format for this module moving forward.
Precepted by Will Sherwood

Tolkien and the Romantics: Nature and Ecology

J.R.R. Tolkien's revolutionary depictions of nature have inspired many to respect and cherish the environment. However, if we journeyed back two hundred years, we would discover that radical British Romantic authors were also challenging how readers perceived their surroundings! In this module, we will use ecology to explore the many parallels and contrasts between Tolkien's Arda and the Romantic's portrayals of nature big and small: mountains and meadows, woods and wildernesses, daffodils and dead marshes. This will include examining how characters react to the environment, nature's existence as separate from our own, and the broader concern of the Industrial Revolution's destructive potential.

The module will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: Visions of Nature
• Workshop 1: What do your Elf-eyes see?
• Lecture 2: All things Sublime and Beautiful
• Workshop 2: Sublime, Beautiful, or both at once?!
• Lecture 3: I want to see mountains!
• Workshop 3: One with our environment
• Lecture 4: Ecology without Humanity
• Workshop 4: What is actually out there beyond the Human sphere?

Note: The hybrid 8-lesson structure above is the new format for this module moving forward.
Precepted by Will Sherwood

Tolkien and the Romantics Series Series

This is the Landing Page for preceptor Will Sherwood's Tolkien and the Romantics series. Using the links on this page, you can explore each member of this series by going to its associated module page for more details.

Nature and Ecology
Imagining and Dreaming
Dark Romanticism and the Gothic Literary Tradition
Forging Myth and History
Precepted by Will Sherwood
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].