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

Fairy Tales Portal

Boccaccio’s The Decameron

Boccaccio’s fourteenth-century masterpiece shows ten young Florentine nobles fleeing a city devastated by plague, retiring to a country villa to divert themselves with the telling of tales—one tale each for ten days. Populated by gullible merchants, wily apprentices, self-possessed daughters, and libidinous nuns, these tales feature a series of practical jokes, remarkable journeys, love, deception, and family drama—all with a blend of wit, wonderment, and buffoonery. From this hundredfold collection, our class will look at just a decimal selection—a curated “top ten” tales from this set of ten tens. We conclude the course by watching the 2017 film adaptation of two of these tales, The Little Hours.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Exploring Japanese Picturebooks

Japanese picturebooks are visually stunning, are not afraid of presenting distressing themes, and are emotionally profound. In this module taught by preceptors Robert Steed and Pilar Barrera, we will read a variety of Japanese picturebooks, discuss their motifs, imagery, and illustrations. We will relate their themes to different aspects of Japanese culture, and discuss the role of picturebooks in literature.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera and Robert Steed.

Exploring Mushi Shi

We will watch and discuss Mushi Shi, paying special attention to aspects of Japanese religion and culture which are woven into the fabric of the story. The class will be discussion-oriented, framed by preceptor commentary. This is a beautifully designed series that rewards slow and relaxed contemplation.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Fairy Tales: an Adventure from the Writer's Perspective

Come explore Fairy Tales from the inside! In the first meeting each week Pilar Barrera will lift up a Fairy Tale technique, character archetype, or trope. We'll discuss the story at hand and how that story technique makes meaning. Then, students try their own hands at that technique! What do we learn when we push these ideas to their logical extremes? In the second meeting, Sparrow Alden will facilitate a workshop-style discussion of our original tale-telling work; we'll encourage one another as writers and appreciate one another as readers! Our goal is to complete the month with a deeper appreciation for the tales we all love and a folder with one to four good drafts of original tales.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera and Sparrow Alden.

Fairy Tales: From Apples to Bears

In this module, we will answer questions such as: what is a fairy tale? Why do we tell stories? What is the function of fairy tales? What are some recurring themes? Stories to be discussed include Snow White (with and without dwarfs), Little Red Riding-hood, the Little Match Girl, Thumbelina, and East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Fairy Tales in The Witcher’s World

In this module, we will explore Andrzej Sapkowski’s stories from The Last Wish (the first book in the now famous The Witcher Netflix series) and prequel to the main saga. We will discuss how fairy tales are deeply embedded in the stories and are a fundamental part of the Witcher’s world. We will talk about the abundant allusions to different fairy tales that permeate the narrative, read these fairy tales, and discuss how they are presented and molded in Sapkowski’s book. While we’ll talk about the TV series, particularly, the first episode of the second season, “A Grain of Truth”, we will focus on the book itself and on the fairy tales mentioned in the stories.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Fairy Tales: Rats, Mice, and Birds

In this module, we will continue to explore fairy tales and discuss questions such as: what is the role of nature in fairy tales? What is the role of animals? What are some recurring themes in these tales? Stories to be discussed include “Cinderella”, “The Turnip”, “The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage”, “The Forest Bride”, “The Daisy”, and “Five out of a Pod”.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Fairy Tales: Tricksters, Fools, and Villains

In this module, we will examine fairy tales about tricksters and villains. We will discuss questions such as: why are tricksters important? What is the role of villains? What are some recurring themes in these tales? Stories to be discussed include “Hansel and Gretel”, “Bluebeard”, “Hans in Luck”, “Momotaro, the Peach Boy”, “The Bremen Musicians”, “The Old Woman and the Tramp”, and “The Tinder Box”.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Introduction to Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales

In this module, we will read and discuss some of Andersen’s fairy tales. We will talk about their plot, characters, and specific imagery. We will also discuss Andersen’s influence on subsequent authors and expressions in different media.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales

In this module, we will read and discuss some of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales. We will talk about the plot, characters, specific nuances of the language, use of irony, and general meaning, as well as Wilde’s influence on other media.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

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.

Shakespeare’s Forgotten Plays: The Late Romances

This module looks at two late plays frequently overlooked in Shakespeare studies: Pericles, Prince of Tyre and Cymbeline. In Pericles, Shakespeare and collaborator George Wilkins present a medievalist fairy-tale of adventure on the high seas, set in the ancient Mediterranean and narrated by Middle English poet, John Gower. In Cymbeline, a princess’s attempt to rid herself of the suitor she loathes and reunite with the man she loves leads to a tangle of escapes, pursuits, and mistaken identities. Decried by some critics for their eccentric and eclectic plots, both plays feature grand voyages across land and sea, benevolent magic, and the loss and recovered of true love.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

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 Liam Daley.

Video Game Storytelling

Video games are an exciting new medium for storytelling because they give players agency within the story world. In this class, we’ll look at recent examples of games that use interactivity to tell stories not possible in any other medium. We’ll see how games encourage players to identify with characters’ emotions through gameplay; incorporate world-building into the setting; and handle the branching pathways of player choice. The games we’ll play are relatively short and are accessible to students who have never played video games before.
Precepted by Dominic Nardi.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].