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

The Inklings Portal

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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

FanFiction: Middle-earth

Do you imagine other tales set in Tolkien's beautiful Middle-earth? First person? FRP campaign design? Screen plays? Other minds and hands will come together to create and discuss "what if" for our own fanfiction. We will use a little peer-reading and a lot of focused discussion to move each writer deeper into the story they love. Expect to end the month with a folder full of story seeds or big progress on one big project.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

Ink Spots and Tea Stains: What we Learn from C.S. Lewis's Writing Habits

C.S. Lewis is one of the most prolific and influential writers of the 20th century. And yet, in his early career as an Oxford don, he viewed himself as a failed poet. Moreover, his most canonical and transformational writing happened during the most stress-filled periods of his life. This short course allows students to peek into the writing life of C.S. Lewis. Our goal is to see through the lines of printed text by visiting the letters and archival remains of Lewis in a virtual setting. Most of C.S. Lewis's papers remain undigitized and unpublished, available only locally at archives in North America and England.

As Professor Brenton Dickieson has visited these archives, he is able to invite students to appreciate C.S. Lewis's writing life by looking at the way that he consciously and unconsciously built his literary career. This course is for writers who are developing their own habits and literary life-prints, as well as folks who are curious about C.S. Lewis's life beyond the biographies and bestselling books.

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Life in Letters Series of 4

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? Come and take a deep dive, attempting to do just that, as we look into the life of the maker of Middle-earth! This series will go on an adventure through the life of Tolkien over three months through the lens of the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. As the module follows the narrative presented in Tolkien's own words in his letters, the class sessions will allow for discussions of Tolkien's thoughts and problems as he raises them --- as well as the chance to read and discuss selections of his creative works along the way.

Throughout the course, we will be discussing the events of Tolkien’s life in tandem with the letters and filling out a more complete picture of the man through his work, his personal life, and his creative endeavours. Names, places, and stages of history can all too easily become abstractions on a page but, in this course, we will see the way in which Tolkien's personal environment was intimately connected to his works, and how it shaped the life of the man behind the legendarium.

You can join us for the whole series or just jump in a month at a time as we explore the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien!

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Life in Letters 1 First in the Series

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? Come and take a deep dive, attempting to do just that, as we look into the life of the maker of Middle-earth! This series will go on an adventure through the life of Tolkien over three months through the lens of the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. As the module follows the narrative presented in Tolkien's own words in his letters, the class sessions will allow for discussions of Tolkien's thoughts and problems as he raises them --- as well as the chance to read and discuss selections of his creative works along the way.

Throughout the course, we will be discussing the events of Tolkien’s life in tandem with the letters and filling out a more complete picture of the man through his work, his personal life, and his creative endeavours. Names, places, and stages of history can all too easily become abstractions on a page but, in this course, we will see the way in which Tolkien's personal environment was intimately connected to his works, and how it shaped the life of the man behind the legendarium.

You can join us for the whole series or just jump in a month at a time as we explore the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien!

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Life in Letters 2 Continuing Series

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? Come and take a deep dive, attempting to do just that, as we look into the life of the maker of Middle-earth! This series will go on an adventure through the life of Tolkien over three months through the lens of the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. As the module follows the narrative presented in Tolkien's own words in his letters, the class sessions will allow for discussions of Tolkien's thoughts and problems as he raises them --- as well as the chance to read and discuss selections of his creative works along the way.

Throughout the course, we will be discussing the events of Tolkien’s life in tandem with the letters and filling out a more complete picture of the man through his work, his personal life, and his creative endeavours. Names, places, and stages of history can all too easily become abstractions on a page but, in this course, we will see the way in which Tolkien's personal environment was intimately connected to his works, and how it shaped the life of the man behind the legendarium.

You can join us for the whole series or just jump in a month at a time as we explore the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien!

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Life in Letters 3 Continuing Series

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? Come and take a deep dive, attempting to do just that, as we look into the life of the maker of Middle-earth! This series will go on an adventure through the life of Tolkien over three months through the lens of the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. As the module follows the narrative presented in Tolkien's own words in his letters, the class sessions will allow for discussions of Tolkien's thoughts and problems as he raises them --- as well as the chance to read and discuss selections of his creative works along the way.

Throughout the course, we will be discussing the events of Tolkien’s life in tandem with the letters and filling out a more complete picture of the man through his work, his personal life, and his creative endeavours. Names, places, and stages of history can all too easily become abstractions on a page but, in this course, we will see the way in which Tolkien's personal environment was intimately connected to his works, and how it shaped the life of the man behind the legendarium.

You can join us for the whole series or just jump in a month at a time as we explore the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien!

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Life in Letters 4 Continuing Series

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? Come and take a deep dive, attempting to do just that, as we look into the life of the maker of Middle-earth! This series will go on an adventure through the life of Tolkien over several months through the lens of the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. As the module follows the narrative presented in Tolkien's own words in his letters, the class sessions will allow for discussions of Tolkien's thoughts and problems as he raises them --- as well as the chance to read and discuss selections of his creative works along the way.

Throughout the course, we will be discussing the events of Tolkien’s life in tandem with the letters and filling out a more complete picture of the man through his work, his personal life, and his creative endeavours. Names, places, and stages of history can all too easily become abstractions on a page but, in this course, we will see the way in which Tolkien's personal environment was intimately connected to his works, and how it shaped the life of the man behind the legendarium.

You can join us for the whole series or just jump in a month at a time as we explore the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien!

The History, People, and Culture of Tolkien's Númenor

With the publication of The Fall of Númenor (November 2022) we finally have much of Tolkien’s writing on this period in the history Middle-earth drawn together in one place. This offers a unique opportunity, at a moment when the island of Númenor has come to greater public awareness via Amazon’s show ‘The Rings of Power’, to fully examine this aspect of Tolkien’s secondary world. In this course, we will explore the history of Númenor, with particular focus on important events, significant people, the geography of the island, and the evolving culture of the Númenóreans.

Special Note: We are excited to announce that Brian Sibley, noted for his BBC Radio adaptations of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as well as for his many books on Tolkien, will be joining us in one of the sessions (Date tbc). He is going to talk to us about his work on the new book The Fall of Númenor, and will be available to answer any questions you might have.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Tolkien and the Romantics: Imagining and Dreaming

The imagination and dreams are essential parts of J.R.R. Tolkien's world building which he explored across many stories from 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'On Fairy-stories' to 'The Notion Club Papers'. The same can be said of the Romantics who saw an important connection between the two. In works such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and 'Kubla Khan', Lord Byron's 'The Dream' and 'Darkness', and Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', the imaginary and dream-like meet with awe-inspiring, melancholy or blood-chilling results.

The module sessions are structured as follows:
• Class 1: The Realms of (Childhood) Faery (60m)
• Class 2: Faery’s Enchantment (60m)
• Class 3: The Terror of the Night (60m)
• Class 4: The Past is an Imagined Dreamworld (90m)
• Class 5: Visions of the Apocalypse (60m)
• Class 6: Senses and Sensation (60m)
• Class 7: Glimpses, mere Fragments (90m)
Precepted by Will Sherwood

Tolkien's Collected Poems 1 First in the Series

Now that Hammond and Scull are releasing their magisterial “Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien,” the time is ripe for a dive into Tolkien’s poetic works. In this first module, we will begin with an orientation to Tolkien’s career as a poet, and then we will focus in on the poems of his earliest period as a writer — the poems he was writing when he still thought it might be as a poet that he would make his mark on the literary world.

The module will be structured as follows:

Week 1: Overview of the Poetic Corpus and Tolkien’s Career
Week 2: Introduction to the Early Poems
Week 3-4: Close look at 1-2 poems (in each session)
Precepted by Dr. Corey Olsen

Tolkien's Collected Poems 2 Continuing Series

Now that Hammond and Scull are releasing their magisterial “Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien,” the time is ripe for a dive into Tolkien’s poetic works. In this second module, we will continue exploring Tolkien’s career as a poet, focusing on the poems of his earliest period as a writer — the poems he was writing when he still thought it might be as a poet that he would make his mark on the literary world.

The structure of the module will be announced in the Fall 2024.

Tolkien's Collected Poems Series Series

This is the series landing page for Tolkien's Collected Poems. Now that Hammond and Scull are releasing their magisterial “Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien,” the time is ripe for a dive into Tolkien’s poetic works.
Precepted by Dr. Corey Olsen

Tolkien's Great Tales: The Children of Húrin

Although they were never completed in his lifetime, JRR Tolkien wrote what he considered his three "Great Tales" of the Elder Days and intended them to be a significant part of his wider Silmarillion. These Tales are The Tale of Beren and Lúthien, The Children of Húrin, and The Fall of Gondolin. Some parts of these Tales can be found within the published version of The Silmarillion, but the more recently available individual books provide additional and extensive details for each story.

In this course, we will have a ‘read-along’ discussion of The Children of Hurin. Each session we will consider our close reading of a section of the story, examining Tolkien’s use of language and narrative structure, as well as exploring ideas about what each Tale tells us about Tolkien’s secondary world.

Access to a copy of The Children of Hurin will be necessary, and you may find having a copy of The Silmarillion very useful.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Tolkien's Great Tales: The Fall of Gondolin

Although they were never completed in his lifetime, JRR Tolkien wrote what he considered his three "Great Tales" of the Elder Days and intended them to be a significant part of his wider Silmarillion. These Tales are The Tale of Beren and Lúthien, The Children of Húrin, and The Fall of Gondolin. Some parts of these Tales can be found within the published version of The Silmarillion, but the more recently available individual books provide additional and extensive details for each story.

In this course, we will have a ‘read-along’ discussion of The Fall of Gondolin. Each session we will consider our close reading of a section of the story, examining Tolkien’s use of language and narrative structure, as well as exploring ideas about what each Tale tells us about Tolkien’s secondary world.

Access to a copy of The Fall of Gondolin will be necessary, and you may find having a copy of The Silmarillion very useful.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Tolkien's Great Tales: The Tale of Beren and Lúthien

Although they were never completed in his lifetime, JRR Tolkien wrote what he considered his three "Great Tales" of the Elder Days and intended them to be a significant part of his wider Silmarillion. These Tales are The Tale of Beren and Lúthien, The Children of Húrin, and The Fall of Gondolin. Some parts of these Tales can be found within the published version of The Silmarillion, but the more recently available individual books provide additional and extensive details for each story.

In this course, we will have a ‘read-along’ discussion of The Tale of Beren and Lúthien. Each session we will consider our close reading of a section of the story, examining Tolkien’s use of language and narrative structure, as well as exploring ideas about what each Tale tells us about Tolkien’s secondary world.

Access to a copy of The Tale of Beren and Lúthien will be necessary, and you may find having a copy of The Silmarillion very useful.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Tolkien's Poetry

JRR Tolkien is one of those rare authors whose poetry is as accomplished as his prose writing. Up to this point, though, those who wished to focus primarily on Tolkien’s poetry had to access a significant number of books and online resources to do so, as they were scattered far and wide. Now, a Most Delightful Event has occurred – for the first time, a collected volume of Tolkien’s poetry is available, and it is a Tome of Significant Size!

In this hybrid course, we will read and discuss a selection of these poems, enjoying them for their aesthetic appeal as well as analysing them for Tolkien’s style, use of language, and the poetic forms he employed. This is a hybrid course, in which one class per week will be a lecture and the second class will be group discussion.

There are so many poems in this volume that the intention is to spread the course over five months. If you can’t make one or more of the months, feel free to dip in and out as suits you!

I am also delighted to announce that one lecture session per month will be led by the one and only James Tauber, who will focus on language and the formal elements of the poetry.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].