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

History Portal

A Cultural History of Anime

In this module we will look at the historical development of anime, with special attention to its uses in re-imagining post-war Japanese culture and society. From Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors to mushroom-cloud explosions and kawaii aesthetic, come explore how anime shapes Japanese (and others’) perceptions of Japanese history and culture.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

A Sociolinguistic Examination of Four Spring Holidays

In this module, we will discuss the origins and outworkings of four major holiday which occur this coming spring: Purim (March 6-7), Nawroz (March 21), Easter (April 9), and Eid al-Fitr (April 21). First, we will discuss the assigned literature and what we know about the culture in which the holiday first originated. Then, we will discuss how the holiday is currently celebrated in various areas of the world and in particular traditions. As we identify what people groups observe the holiday we will consider the anthropological specifications of those people groups in order to imagine in what ways the given holiday might form or reflect the cultural characteristics of that people group.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

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.

Demons and Exorcism in History

This module explores the practice of exorcism, from ancient Egypt and the Near East through antiquity and into Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We will look at spells, rituals, and practitioners as well as the causes of possession, demons, and curses.
Precepted by Shawn Gaffney.

Gaelic History 1 First in the Series

This series would likely comprise several modules as there's lots of time to cover.

Module 1 will begin with a look into what does "Celtic" mean and the language branches, Hallstatt and La Tene period artifacts, and what that tells us about the culture. Then we explore what Rome can tell us about Celtic culture through their lens up to Caesar's campaign in Gaul, Hadrian's Wall, Boudicca and the Iceni and hopefully we can cover the formation of Scotland.

Module 2 will essentially cover the period of the Middle Ages. We will explore what daily life looked like and talk about material culture and clan structures. We will also explore religion and the introduction of Christianity with the monastic cultures and manuscripts.

Module 3 will examine royalty in Scotland and the series of events that lead to Culloden.

Module 4 will explore diaspora-settlement, growth, and identity in the New World.

Module 5 will examine the modern gael-decline of language, revitalization efforts, and what does Gaeldom look like in the age of technology.

Gaelic History 2 Continuing Series

This series would likely comprise several modules as there's lots of time to cover.

Module 1 will begin with a look into what does "Celtic" mean and the language branches, Hallstatt and La Tene period artifacts, and what that tells us about the culture. Then we explore what Rome can tell us about Celtic culture through their lens up to Caesar's campaign in Gaul, Hadrian's Wall, Boudicca and the Iceni and hopefully we can cover the formation of Scotland.

Module 2 will essentially cover the period of the Middle Ages. We will explore what daily life looked like and talk about material culture and clan structures. We will also explore religion and the introduction of Christianity with the monastic cultures and manuscripts.

Module 3 will examine royalty in Scotland and the series of events that lead to Culloden.

Module 4 will explore diaspora-settlement, growth, and identity in the New World.

Module 5 will examine the modern gael-decline of language, revitalization efforts, and what does Gaeldom look like in the age of technology.

Gaelic History 3 Continuing Series

This series would likely comprise several modules as there's lots of time to cover.

Module 1 will begin with a look into what does "Celtic" mean and the language branches, Hallstatt and La Tene period artifacts, and what that tells us about the culture. Then we explore what Rome can tell us about Celtic culture through their lens up to Caesar's campaign in Gaul, Hadrian's Wall, Boudicca and the Iceni and hopefully we can cover the formation of Scotland.

Module 2 will essentially cover the period of the Middle Ages. We will explore what daily life looked like and talk about material culture and clan structures. We will also explore religion and the introduction of Christianity with the monastic cultures and manuscripts.

Module 3 will examine royalty in Scotland and the series of events that lead to Culloden.

Module 4 will explore diaspora-settlement, growth, and identity in the New World.

Module 5 will examine the modern gael-decline of language, revitalization efforts, and what does Gaeldom look like in the age of technology.

Gaelic History 4 Continuing Series

This series would likely comprise several modules as there's lots of time to cover.

Module 1 will begin with a look into what does "Celtic" mean and the language branches, Hallstatt and La Tene period artifacts, and what that tells us about the culture. Then we explore what Rome can tell us about Celtic culture through their lens up to Caesar's campaign in Gaul, Hadrian's Wall, Boudicca and the Iceni and hopefully we can cover the formation of Scotland.

Module 2 will essentially cover the period of the Middle Ages. We will explore what daily life looked like and talk about material culture and clan structures. We will also explore religion and the introduction of Christianity with the monastic cultures and manuscripts.

Module 3 will examine royalty in Scotland and the series of events that lead to Culloden.

Module 4 will explore diaspora-settlement, growth, and identity in the New World.

Module 5 will examine the modern gael-decline of language, revitalization efforts, and what does Gaeldom look like in the age of technology.

History of the Book Arts

This module gives an overview of writing and alphabets, literary and other works written on stone, papyrus, wax, and parchment.
Precepted by Larry Swain.

Japanese Historical Archetypal Characters: Samurai, Ninja, Monks, Miko, Yakuza

Join us as we discover the historical origins and literary presences of these categories of people who often appear in Japanese and Japan-related narratives. We will also pay attention to the "systems" in which they participate, including economic, political, and religious, as well as aspects of culture that shape them such as codes of bushido, monastic life, shamanism, and political struggle.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Life in the Middle Ages

This module will look at what life in the Middle Ages was like. What did they eat? What about entertainment? What work? What was literature like? People will encounter texts, artifacts, and art to help gain a better understanding of life in the Middle Ages.
Precepted by Larry Swain.

Magic: Grimoires 1

In this module we will use Owen Davie’s Grimoires: a History of Magic Books as a guide to look at a number of different texts, focusing on Late Antiquity to Early Modern books. We will discuss where the books were used, by whom, and how some were related to one another. We will also look at how the books were spread and received, as well as, when possible, some details about individual books. Because of the breadth of the subject we will not have time to delve too deeply into the texts themselves.
Precepted by Shawn Gaffney.

Magic: Grimoires 2

In this module we will look more deeply into one or more texts on magic. Using modern translations and publications, we will focus on one or two texts, read and discuss them. This may include the Testament of Solomon, Picatrix, or the Liber Razielis Archangeli, or another text depending on the interest of the participants.

Note: While this is the natural follow-up class to the first Grimoires Module, it can be taken without taking the first Grimoires class.
Precepted by Shawn Gaffney.

Magic: Islamic Magic and Occultism

We will explore the early period of Islamic magic and secret knowledge. We will look at various categories of magic, from astrology to talisman magic. Our sources will draw on recent scholarly publications as well as translations of medieval texts.
Precepted by Shawn Gaffney.

Malory’s Morte Darthur 1: The Tale of King Arthur First in the Series

This course offers the first in a series on Sir Thomas Malory’s masterpiece of Arthurian literature, Le Morte Darthur—one course for each of the work’s eight books or tales. This fifteenth-century retelling is for many the consummate version of the Arthur legend, combining notable elements of prior versions in a form that would influence later retellings for centuries. The first book of Mallory’s complete work, “The Tale of King Arthur,” includes such crucial Arthurian elements as the Sword in the Stone, the bestowal of Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake, and the founding of the Round Table. Interspersed among these are Arthur’s first encounter with the Questing Beast, an attempted usurpation by Morgan Le Fay, the tragic tale of the two brothers, Sir Balin and Sir Balan, and numerous other episodes and adventures. Context will also be provided on Malory’s life and times, the first printing of his writings by William Caxton in 1485, and the remarkable twentieth-century discovery of the now-standard but then-unknown version of Le Morte Darthur in the form of the Winchester Manuscript.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Malory’s Morte Darthur 2: Sir Lancelot, Sir Gareth, & War with Rome Continuing Series

This course marks the second part in a series on Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur, but you do not need to have taken the first part to join. This module explores Books II, III, and IV of the Morte Darthur, offering three short, stand-alone tales of Arthur, his knights, and the wider world they inhabit.

Book II, “The Tale of the Noble King Arthur that was Emperor,” shows Malory’s version of King Arthur as military leader and conqueror of Rome. Adapted from the late Middle English alliterative tradition, this tale was not included in Caxton’s original 15th century printing, but only discovered in 1934 with the finding of the lost Winchester Manuscript.

Book III, “A Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake,” shows Lancelot’s kidnapping by Morgan Le Fay, with the political and amatory complications that arise.

And finally, Book IV, “The Tale of Sir Gareth,” (evidently the only tale that Malory invented himself) follows Gawain’s younger brother Gareth from seemingly-lowly origins, through trials and mockery, to eventual triumph as full-fledged knight. With a mixture of the chivalry, comedy, and romance, these three tales make essential reading for any fan of the Arthurian cannon.

Note: Students may participate in this series in any month even if they did not take a previous class in the series.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Malory’s Morte Darthur 3: Tristram and Isolde Continuing Series

This frequently overlooked portion of Le Morte Arthur contains the longest and perhaps richest of the book’s stand-alone narratives. The Tale of Sir Tristram de Lyones (the fifth book in Malory’s Arthurian saga), follows Tristram from his tragic origins—his mother died in childbirth while searching for her kidnapped husband— through Tristram’s doomed love affair with the Belle Isolde, wife of his bullying and cowardly uncle, King Marc. Amidst war, sorcery, political intrigue, and rancorous family conflicts, the two lovers attempt to snatch what happiness they can before it all comes crashing down. The story also features the often-poignant and (for medieval audiences) hugely popular adventures of the Saracen knight, Sir Palomides, including his friendship and rivalry with Tristram, his unrequited love for Isolde, and his taking up of the hunt for the Questing Beast. All in all, The Tale of Sir Tristram is said to contain in microcosm all of the major themes and relationships found throughout Le Morte Darthur as a whole.

Note: Students may participate in this series in any month even if they did not take a previous class in the series.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Malory’s Morte Darthur Series Series

This series explores Sir Thomas Malory’s masterpiece of Arthurian literature, Le Morte Darthur—one course for each of the work’s eight books or tales. This fifteenth-century retelling is for many the consummate version of the Arthur legend, combining notable elements of prior versions in a form that would influence later retellings for centuries. Context will also be provided on Malory’s life and times, the first printing of his writings by William Caxton in 1485, and the remarkable twentieth-century discovery of the now-standard but then-unknown version of Le Morte Darthur in the form of the Winchester Manuscript.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Malory's "Tristram and Isolde"

Before it captured the imagination of Wagner and Tennyson, the doomed love affair between Tristan (or Tristram) and the Belle Isolde was recorded by England’s most prolific Arthurian chronicler, Sir Thomas Malory. Included within his sprawling Morte Darthur, Malory’s version of this narrative combines the best elements of the versions that came before and would influence all those that followed.

Placing Malory's version within the broader Arthurian context, this course begins with a brief look at some of Malory’s English and continental predecessors. From there, we read Tristram’s narrative from his anguished origins, through the love-triangle between himself, Isolde, and the scoundrelly King Marc (Tristram’s uncle and Isolde’s husband), to it's tragic conclusion. Amidst war, sorcery, political intrigue, and rancorous family conflicts, the two lovers attempt to snatch what happiness they can before it all comes crashing down.

The story also features the often-poignant and (for medieval audiences) hugely popular adventures of the Saracen knight, Sir Palomides—including his friendship and rivalry with Tristram, his unrequited love for Isolde, and his taking up of the hunt for the Questing Beast. All in all, The Tale of Sir Tristram contains in microcosm all of the major themes and relationship found throughout Le Morte Darthur and Arthurian literature as a whole.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Plant-based Entheogens, Shapers of History and Consciousness

In this module we will explore the roles that various plant-based entheogens have played, actively and passively, in shaping human consciousness and history. Tea, coffee, chocolate, nutmeg, cannabis, coca, alcohol, opium, pipe-weed (tobacco), and ayahuasca will all be discussed, both in their historical contexts and for their entheogenic properties. Time permitting, we can cover more.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Shakespeare’s Forgotten Plays: The English Histories

This module examines two English history plays frequently overlooked in Shakespeare studies: King Henry VI, Part 1 and King John. The rollicking wartime melodrama, King Henry VI, Part 1, shows Joan of Arc from the English perspective as a foul-mouthed, lascivious witch. The virtuous milksop King Henry VI is all but overshadowed in his own play as Joan bedevils the English forces in France again and again—until her own downfall and death. Shakespeare’s most satirically comical history, King John, by contrast, shows a monarch neither competent nor virtuous! Between John’s corrupt and cowardly bungling of a war France, a war with the Pope, and rebellion at home, England’s only hope is the play’s unlikely (and ahistorical) hero—the wily and charming bastard son of the late King Richard the Lionheart. Unlike most of Shakespeare’s English histories, both of these plays are comfortably stand-alone; no prior knowledge of Shakespeare’s other history plays required.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Shakespeare’s “Henriad”

This module looks at Shakespeare’s trilogy of coming-of-age history plays depicting one of England’s most popular medieval monarchs—King Henry V. Beginning with Henry IV, Part 1, we see the young Prince Hal change from wastrel, drunkard, and companion of highway robbers into the royal figure his war-torn country needs. After relapsing in Part 2, we finally see him lead his subjects on the battlefields of France as the mature king in Henry V. Charting his course between the demands of his kingly father, the peculiar philosophy of his friend and mentor, the exuberant Sir John Falstaff, and the dangers posed by a series of political and military rivals, Henry finally learns what it means to “act” the part of a king in the ways that matter most.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Shakespeare's King Lear

This module looks at arguably the greatest of Shakespeare's Tragedies--King Lear. Resolving to divide his kingdom between his daughters, the aged king banishes his closest allies from court, leaving himself and his realm prey to the self-interest and cruelty of those who remain. The course examines this tragedy of betrayal, madness, and family grudges act by act but also supplements these close studies of Shakespeare's text with discussions of the two variant early editions (in Quarto and Folio formats), a brief overview of Shakespeare's sources (Geoffrey of Monmoth's "History of the Kings of Britain" and Holinshed's "Chronicles"), and an examination of Nahum Tate's infamous happy-ending adaptation (the only version of the play staged for next 150 years). Expected weekly reading/listening: approx. 50-70 pages (spread across two hours of class).
Precepted by Faith Acker and Liam Daley.

Such an Odyssey!

This 6-module series will work slowly through the 24 books of Homer’s Odyssey. Each week we will read one book of the Odyssey aloud together, comparing editions and language and then discussing translation choices, plot development, character and setting descriptions, and overall themes. With two hours to spend on each book, students can enjoy a slow reading pace, little to no homework, and lots of class discussion.
Precepted by Faith Acker.

The Contours of Consciousness: A Study of Owen Barfield's Romanticism Comes of Age

In this class, we will tackle one essay per session from Owen Barfield's important collection of essays "Romanticism Comes of Age." For those who have read some of Barfield's better known works--such as "Poetic Diction" or "Saving the Appearances" these essays offer an opportunity to deepen and broaden their understanding of Barfield's ideas through more specific and focused studies. For those unfamiliar with Barfield's work, the essays also function well as an entry point into Barfieldean thought (and I will provide ample clarifying context where necessary).

The subjects of the essays range from literary analysis to psycho-spiritual exploration, but they are all bound together by a concern with the evolution of consciousness as a vitally important (indeed life-saving) aspect of the past, present, and future of humanity.
Precepted by Clayton McReynolds.

The History of the Symphony: After Beethoven

This module will be a chronological listening tour of the history of the symphony after Beethoven. We will explore the symphony’s subsequent development in the romantic era, and its rethinking in the 20th century. We will listen to some key works together and discuss some of the innovations introduced in those particular works.
Precepted by James Tauber.

The History of the Symphony: Beginnings to Beethoven

This module will be a chronological listening tour from the precursors of the symphony in the baroque era to the birth of the symphony in the classical era culminating in the works of Beethoven. We will listen to some key works together and discuss some of the innovations introduced in those particular works.
Precepted by James Tauber.

The Witch-cult Hypothesis and Its Afterlives

Imagine a witch. Perhaps, she is a solitary crone, living in a cottage on the outskirts of the village, in equal measures reviled and grudgingly respected by the villagers for her knowledge of midwifery and healing herbs. Perhaps, she is a self-possessed attractive young woman, persecuted by an oppressive authority for her feminist outlook. Perhaps, she is sexually liberated, she conducts strange rituals tied to the land’s fertility, she speaks of the Old Faith as a secret knowledge passed on in secret alongside the official religion. This image of the witch owes much to Margaret Murray’s Witch-cult Hypothesis, an idea that people accused of witchcraft in the medieval and early modern period in the Western world, were the inheritors of a prehistoric fertility cult, which survived as a covert practice alongside Christianity for millennia. Despite being rejected as academically spurious, Murray’s work continues to be incredibly influential for practitioners of modern witchcraft and in popular culture.

In this course, we will take a close look at Murray’s claims, and place them in a historical and cultural context. We will venture outside the academic setting to read witchcraft handbooks and genre fiction, where the witch-cult hypothesis continues its fascinating afterlives.
Precepted by Anna Milon.

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.

Warring States Era Chinese Philosophy: Attaining Flow

Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, Mohism---these Chinese philosophical systems all have their foundational roots in the Warring States period of Chinese history (475–221 BCE), and as such share a set of common interests, even if their proposals for attaining those interests greatly differ. In this module we will cover the basic concerns of each of these systems, paying attention to their differences as well as their similarities, and perhaps most importantly, seeing how their proposals for the attainment of human flourishing may still have something to offer to contemporary people.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].