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

Dr. Faith Acker

Signum MA FacultySPACE Preceptor

Faith Acker first joined Signum in 2011, serving as a preceptor for the inaugural course “The Great Tales: Tolkien and the Epic.” She has precepted for several additional Tolkien courses as well as Latin I and II, and is co-lecturer for “Shakespeare and the Middle Ages” and sole designer of “The Life and Times of the English Epic.” She was invited to join Signum’s Strategy Council in 2021 and also serves as Signum’s Curriculum Coordinator. [see full bio...]

Current and Upcoming Modules

English Sonnet Readings

September 2024

Highlighted Modules

General Humanities
Language
Series of 15
General Humanities
Series of 4

All Modules

English Sonnet Readings

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Low intensity
This module will explore a range of English sonnets, some familiar and some more obscure, looking at the wordplay of all and exploring the contexts and reception of these poets or their authors where known. In the second half of the month, we will also explore the versatility of the sonnet form, looking at adaptations, variations, and the effects thereof.

Babylon 5: Who Are You?

Discussion-based
The first of the two essential questions raised in Babylon 5, “Who are you” demands that listeners and respondents consider the nature of their own mortality and personhood, delving deeply into their multifaceted identities. This four-week seminar explores the responses to this question as given by six core members of the Babylon 5 universe and considers its presentation as a core Vorlon question, examining the world of Babylon 5 as a space of introspection and self-discovery.

His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Medium intensity
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: The Golden Compass (a.k.a. Northern Lights) (October 2023)

• Module 2: His Dark Materials in Context: The Subtle Knife (December 2023)

• Module 3: His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass (January 2023)

His Dark Materials in Context: The Golden Compass

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Medium intensity
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: The Golden Compass (a.k.a. Northern Lights) (October 2023)

• Module 2: His Dark Materials in Context: The Subtle Knife (December 2023)

• Module 3: His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass (January 2023)

His Dark Materials in Context: The Subtle Knife

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Medium intensity
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: The Golden Compass (a.k.a. Northern Lights) (October 2023)

• Module 2: His Dark Materials in Context: The Subtle Knife (December 2023)

• Module 3: His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass (January 2023)

Intermediate Latin Readings Series

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
This series will help introduce students to the breadth and depth of Latin texts available for intermediate-level study . Each month, our preceptors survey the group using the Intermediate Latin Series survey form to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

Some of the texts we could explore in a given month include:
Latin: The Vulgate Gospel of Matthew
Latin: Plautus' Miles Gloriosus (the Braggart Soldier)
Latin: Augustine's Confessions
Intermediate Latin Readings: Catullus
Intermediate Latin Readings: The Vulgate Bible 1
Intermediate Latin Readings: The Vulgate Hester
Intermediate Latin Readings: Caesar’s Gallic Wars
Intermediate Latin Readings: Martial’s Epigrammata
Intermediate Latin Readings: Gesta Romanorum
Intermediate Latin Readings: Horace
Advanced Latin Readings: Cicero's Pro Archia Oration
Advanced Latin Readings: Aesop's Fables
Advanced Latin Readings: Hobbitus Ille
Advanced Latin Readings: Silius Italicus' 'Punica'
Advanced Latin Readings: Vergil's Aeneid in a Year

Note: Please refer to the Required Texts section on a month's iteration page to see which texts the group has decided upon for a given month.

Intermediate Latin Translation: The Vulgate Psalms

Discussion-based
Designed for students who have completed an introductory Latin textbook and wish to explore real Latin texts at a gentle pace, this class will walk students through a selection of Psalms from the Latin Vulgate, adapting the quantity of texts and homework to meet the needs of the enrolled students. We will parse passages and read the psalms clause by clause, moving somewhat slowly to allow ample time for grammatical review as students test different translation techniques and absorb new abbreviations, grammatical quirks, and irregular or new forms.

Note: Students who took this module in 2023 are welcome to repeat it; the 2024 module will feature different psalms than its predecessor.

Latin In A Year Series

Mixed Lecture/Discussion
Designed for absolute beginners as well as past Latin scholars who want to review at relative leisure, Signum’s 12-module Latin in a Year series surveys core Latin grammar and basic classical vocabulary. Each month, students will tackle new grammatical concepts and paradigms, learn new vocabulary, and practice translating short sentences and longer passages. Optional homework is available for the overzealous. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students with prior experience are encouraged to communicate with our Director and Professor Acker to find the right entry point. See the list below for some general guidelines of what material is explored over the course of each module.

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We will be offering this series next in January 2024, starting at Month 1.
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Month 1: Overview of nouns and verbs (present active verbs, 1st and 2nd declension)
Month 2: Adding new tenses (imperfect and future active) and a new declension (3rd)
Month 3: 3rd and 4th conjugations (existing tenses) and new pronouns
Month 4: New verb tenses (perfect system) and more pronouns; numerals
Month 5: Passive verb forms; 4th declension nouns; more pronouns
Month 6: 5th declension, but mostly participles
Month 7: Comparatives, superlatives, and some irregular forms
Month 8: Basic subjunctives
Month 9: Irregular verbs and conditions
Month 10: Subjunctives, deponents, datives, and more irregular verbs
Month 11: (more) finicky grammar
Month 12: Basic readings
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Latin Readings for Advanced Beginners

Discussion-based
When the weight of grammatical forms and memorization would benefit from time to practice and process, the Latin Readings for Advanced Beginners modules offer respite from the regular Latin in a Year program on an ad hoc basis. As appropriate to their skill levels, Latin in a Year students (other scholars are welcome too!) will spend one month reading selected passages from selected textbooks, Latin readers, and (when appropriate) intermediate Latin texts to support their current grammatical skills. The difficulty level and recommended grammatical knowledge for each module will typically be based upon the progress of one or more existing Latin in a Year cohorts, but the SPACE staff or module preceptor will be happy to provide more information.

Level Up Your Term Paper(s): Preparing for Conferences

Mixed Lecture/Discussion
Do you have a general idea or old class paper that you’d like to refresh for an academic conference? This module is for individuals who are interested in turning a past or current research project into an abstract (proposal) and script or outline for a 20-minute conference paper. Bring some past writing (or a bunch of notes) to our first meeting, and we will brainstorm possible venues; wrangle past writing into conference-accessible outlines; draft and peer review abstracts; and write or outline some paragraphs or sections for oral delivery. Everyone is welcome, but this class is specifically designed for novice conference presenters who have a specific topic (or past paper) in mind and would like directed guidance and weekly accountability during the revision and preparation process.

Reading John Donne’s Holy Sonnets

Mixed Lecture/Discussion
Renaissance clergyman John Donne was a prolific scholar and poet. His verses follow many different poetical forms and vary widely in tone from the solemn and devout to the seductive and sensual. In this module, we will study Donne’s Holy Sonnets, a sequence of poems that blend meditations on the divine with vivid but sometimes irreverent imagery. Here we will discuss selected sonnets individually and the full collection in some of the different arrangements and forms in which it was read and copied in the seventeenth century. Along the way, we will look at the connotations and complexities of words and particular lines, identify biblical and other allusions, and delight in the language of these complex and thought-provoking Renaissance sonnets.

Such an Odyssey!

Discussion-based
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.

Such an Odyssey 1

Discussion-based
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.

Such an Odyssey 2

Discussion-based
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.

Such an Odyssey 3

Discussion-based
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.

Such an Odyssey 4

Discussion-based
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.

Sunshine, Fleas, and Desperate Pleas: Eight Amorous Verses by John Donne

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Low intensity
Although a priest, Renaissance poet John Donne was on paper a playboy, a quality the first publishers of his poems sought to downplay by censoring scandalous words, leaving some verses out of the collection, and placing the raciest poems they included near the end of the volume. While the publishers may have found these difficult to align with his staid churchman persona, Donne’s earliest readers collected these poems with joy, sharing them in private verse collections and prioritising his most sensual poetry over his complex religious lyrics. In this module we will read and discuss eight of Donne’s most popular amorous verses, paying particular attention to his puns and allusions, superficial treatment of women, and beautiful literary structures and styles. (Warning: this module is not for the faint of heart: Donne is just as explicit as Shakespeare! Think carefully before inviting your parents to join you.)
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].