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

Women's Studies Portal

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Book Club: A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro or A Study of Memory

In his debut short novel, Kazuo Ishiguro (2017 Nobel Prize winner) explores topics such as the reliability of memory, womanhood, and the relationships between men. Set in both Britain and Nagasaki, Ishiguro takes the reader into the world of Etsuko a Japanese woman struggling to fulfill the expectations of women after the war. We will discuss the themes, language, imagery, and character development in a relaxed and dynamic way.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Book Club: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

A 2020 winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Hamnet is a retelling of Shakespeare’s lost years that focuses on his relationship with Anne Hathaway. At times magical and surreal, it has hues of magic realism and a unique style. We will discuss the themes, imagery, character development, and many allusions to different plays of Shakespeare in a relaxed and interactive way.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Book Club: Little Women, Part 1

Based largely on autobiographical information, Little Women has never been out of print since it was published in 1868. The lives of the four March sisters have inspired several movies and continue to be popular. This is a 2-part module in which we’ll discuss the first Volume of Little Women; we’ll talk about the context, setting, and character development, as well as the influence of Dickens, and certain feminist and philosophical issues that permeate the novel.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Book Club: Little Women, Part 2

In Part 2 of this module, we’ll finish the fist Volume of Little Women. We’ll cover chapters XII to XXIII. We’ll continue to discuss the different references, characters development, main themes, and imagery.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Book Club: The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Published in 1899, The Awakening is considered one of the first feminist novels and a precursor of American modernism. Kate Chopin explores issues such as motherhood, independence, the conformism to preset social values, and more. We will discuss the themes, imagery, and character development in a relaxed and interactive way.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Exploring Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book

Sei Shōnagon 清少納言 is a major writer of the Heian period (794-1185) whose Makura no Sōshi 枕草子 (The Pillow Book) has intrigued and delighted reading audiences for centuries. Colorful, witty, incisive, charming, thoughtful, melancholy, poetic---these qualities and more characterize this diary of the famous lady of the court. Join us as we read this text in-depth and place it within the frame of the flow of Japanese culture and history.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

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 (a.k.a. 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.

Reading L.M. Montgomery as Fantasy: Part 1: Anne of Green Gables

This course will be offered for the first time this October 2023 (Anne’s favourite month)

Within weeks of its 1908 publication, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables became a bestseller. Over the years, this charming orphan story put Montgomery and her imaginative Prince Edward Island on a global map.

Despite the fact that Anne of Green Gables is Canada’s bestselling novel throughout the world—or because of it—Montgomery was ignored by the literati and scholarship. Montgomery was a public intellectual, the first female Canadian fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and invested Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Still she was dismissed as “just” a children’s writer, a regionalist, or a woman. It was 25 years after Montgomery’s death before children’s literature and feminist scholars began to recover her work as worthy of study.

While there is a robust field of Montgomery scholarship, there are areas where our focus is sometimes too narrow. One of these is the category of “realistic” fiction. While there is a kind of verisimilitude about everyday life in the late Victorian era in her work, the realism is pressed to the margins of definition as Montgomery romanticizes the worlds she creates. And can we disagree that there is something magical about Anne herself? By changing our way of approach and by looking at Anne of Green Gables as a fantasy novel, what can we unveil in this classic novel?

Native Prince Edward Islander and Montgomery scholar Brenton Dickieson will lead students through a rereading of Anne of Green Gables using the lenses we use to study fantasy and speculative fiction with the goal of allowing one of the greatest living children’s books to live in new ways.
Precepted by Brenton Dickieson.

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 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 sessions are structured as follows:
1: Visions of Nature
2: Nature Supreme and Sublime
3: Nature’s Simple Beauty
4: Seasons and Weather
5: The Shape of Water
6: I want to see mountains!
7: My Little Pony and Other Animals
8: Nature without Humanity

Precepted by Will Sherwood.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].