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

Fairy Tales 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.

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.

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.

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.

Exploring Natsume’s Book of Friends

Natsume’s Book of Friends is a contemplative and heartfelt anime/manga series about a boy who inherited a book from his grandmother, allowing him to control youkai. Instead, he chooses to free them. This series sits at the intersection of fantasy and slice of life, and it touches on many aspects of Japanese folklore and culture, at the same time telling a story about connection and compassion. In this module, we will watch and discuss the first two seasons of the anime, paying particular attention to themes including: the iyashikei (healing) genre of anime, the portrayal of youkai in popular culture, and the use of concepts and imagery from Japanese literature and folklore in the series.

This module is primarily discussion based, with some contextual information provided by the preceptor. There will be a Google Doc for class discussion and your preceptor will use slides, but sparingly.
Precepted by Nancy "Anni" Foasberg.

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: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Gaelic Otherworld 1 First in the Series

A deep dive into John Gregorson Campbell's Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands. This module covers the first half of the book.

The text for this series can be found here: link.

The Gaelic Otherworld 2 Continuing Series

A deep dive into John Gregorson Campbell's Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands. This module covers the second half of the book.

The text for this series can be found here: link.

The Gaelic Otherworld Series Series

A deep dive into John Gregorson Campbell's Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands.
This would be 2 modules covering the first and second half of the book.

The text for this series can be found here: link.

The Seven Deadly Stories

The Seven Deadly sins--lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride--may result in eternal damnation, but they also make jolly good stories. We'll take a look at one work of literature each class that explores, describes, deplores, warns against, or otherwise engages with one of these deadly sins, and we'll talk about whether we detect a universal moral impulse underneath the varied texts we read.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

The Women of Beowulf

Yes, there are indeed women in Beowulf. Vital and potent women in fact. From the valkyrie-esque figures to the weeping peace-weavers, a broad spectrum of women characters exists as both historical representation and imaginative mythology. Grendel's Mother is ferocious and masculine. Hildeburh laments the death of her brother and son before being carried off. Modthryth behaves like a sadistic queen. Wealhtheow is mindful of so much in her husband's hall. Freawaru seems destined for tragedy. And could the dragon be a female too? Maria Headley seems to think so. This module will explore this topic using dual-language editions of texts so we can see the original language alongside translations by J.R.R. Tolkien, Roy Liuzza, and Maria Headley.
Precepted by Chris Vaccaro.

Tolkien's Macbeth: Shakespeare and Evil in Middle-earth

Tolkien's take on Shakespeare is often misunderstood, but Macbeth helped Tolkien refine his understanding of fantasy and fairy-story, and The Lord of the Rings's portrayal of how we fall into evil owes much to Macbeth. Nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Macbeth was not so.
Precepted by Tom Hillman.

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.

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 1

Boarding schools have become a staple in fantasy, but Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children specializes in children that have stumbled into and then out of portals and haven't quite managed to adjust to being back from their adventures. There are three rules at Eleanor West's: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests.

Explore the first three novellas (Every Heart a Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and Beneath the Sugar Sky) of the Hugo and Nebula-winning Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. Join in for a discussion on portal fantasies, children's adventures, and what it can mean to believe in a world you may never see again.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].