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

Dr. Larry Swain

Signum MA FacultySPACE Preceptor

Larry Swain used to work in IT and libraries after receiving his B.A. in Religion-Greek and Linguistics. After 15 years, he earned an M.A. in Medieval Studies at the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University and then a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago. [see full bio...]

All Modules

Advanced Greek Readings: Gospel of John 1

Find yourself in need of a refresher for your Greek skills? Come join us for reading the Gospel of John in the original Greek! This module will review grammar where needed, discuss the latest lexical tools, touch on textual issues, but mostly work through this text at a relaxed pace.

Advanced Greek Readings: Gospel of John Series

Come join us as we continue reading the Gospel of John in the original Greek! This module will review grammar where needed, discuss the latest lexical tools, touch on textual issues, but mostly work through this text at a relaxed pace.

Advanced Greek Readings: Gospel of Matthew

Find yourself in need of a refresher for your Greek skills? Come join us for reading the Gospel of Matthew in the original Greek! This module will review grammar where needed, discuss the latest lexical tools, touch on textual issues, but mostly work through this text at a relaxed pace.

Advanced Greek Readings: Paul's Letter to the Galatians

Find yourself in need of a refresher for your Greek skills? Come join us for reading the Paul's Letter to the Galatians in the original Greek! This module will review grammar where needed, discuss the latest lexical tools, touch on textual issues, but mostly work through this text at a relaxed pace.

Advanced Latin: Aesop's Fables

Aesop’s Fables are an odd collection of stories of multiple genres, some by Aesop, others attributed to him over the centuries. According to Herodotus, Aesop lived in the sixth century BCE, indicating that some form of the fables were already traditional and hoary when Herodotus was writing in the early fifth century BCE. In the Middle Ages, Latin versions of the fables were used as intermediate texts for students learning Latin. This module picks up with that tradition for the 21st century!

Advanced Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Latin is such a great language that many wonderful modern texts have been translated into the language: Dr. Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, Asterix and Obelix, Harry Potter…..and Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Join this module to read these beloved stories in Latin!

Advanced Latin Readings: Cicero's Pro Archia Oration

Cicero is perhaps the preeminent Latin prose stylist. He made his fame in Rome as a barrister and senator opposed to Caesar. In this trial of the poet Archius, Cicero defends the humanities as a vital area of study earning Archius Roman citizenship rather than deportation.

Advanced Old English: Ælfric's Letter to Sigeweard

For this month, we turn again to Aelfric of Eynsham, the most prolific writer in Old English. In this letter, he addresses a nobleman and tries to teach him what Aelfric considers to be the important things of the Christian faith. It is a fascinating text to read and has a little something for everyone interested in the language, literature, and culture of Early Medieval England.

Advanced Old English: Ælfric's Lives of the Saints

Saints’ Lives were a major and important genre of literature and were composed in prose and poetry. In this module we will look at three prose lives written in the 990s by Aelfric of Eynsham, from whose quill more Old English survives than even the prolific Anonymous! Those three are English figures: Kings who became saints Oswin and Edmund and the capital city saint Swithun. Then we will begin Guthlac A, one of the poetic treatments of a St Guthlac of East Anglia.

Advanced Old English: Apollonius of Tyre

This is one of the most popular tales of the Ancient and Medieval worlds! Originally a Hellenistic Greek tale, translated into Latin, and then many Latin and vernacular versions thereafter. The earliest vernacular is the Old English translation by the ubiquitous Anonymous. The tale has incest, murder, unjust punishments, hidden identities, and resolutions. Apollonius of Tyre is a corker of a tale and fun in any language!

Advanced Old English: Cynewulf's Christ II

Cynewulf is one of the few poets whose name we know from the Old English period. He composed 4 narrative poems casting saints' lives into Old English poetry. "Christ II" is so named because it is one of three poems dealing with key moments in Christ's life: the "Advent" and Incarnation, the Ascension, and the Harrowing of Hell. This middle poem is the one we know as certainly as we can that it was composed by Cynewulf and has a number of very interesting features.

Advanced Old English: Cynewulf's Juliana

In Early Medieval English literature, there are only two poets writing in Old English whose names we know. Caedmon (technically he didn't know how to write, others wrote for him copying his oral compositions---almost all of which is now lost to us), and Cynewulf. Little is known of Cynewulf other than he had monastic training and was likely a monk. It is debated as to whether he was an eighth, ninth, or tenth century writer. Previously we had a module that worked with his poem known as "Christ II" by modern scholars and with "Fates of the Apostles". This module will work with his translation and adaptation of an early Christian saint's life, The Life of St Juliana, a virgin saint who sacrificed her life for the faith so as not to marry a pagan Roman. Great stuff occurs in this tale!

Advanced Old English: Heroic Elegies

J. R. R. Tolkien suggested in his seminal Monsters and the Critics that Beowulf is a heroic elegy. In this module, we will translate some of the Old English Heroic Elegies such as "Deor", "Wife’s Lament", "Husband’s Message", "The Ruin", and if time others. Not only translating, the question is how these “elegies” relate to Beowulf I, or Tolkien’s own work. The module emphasizes translation and working in Old English, but also how that applies to other literature (i. e. this stuff isn’t in a vacuum!)

Advanced Old English: Beowulf I

Spend the time reading and translating in a relaxed manner with friends! This beautiful, moving, narrative poem is a joy to work with and I hope you will join me for a month of study.

Advanced Old English: Beowulf II

Let's continue reading and translating Beowulf in a relaxed manner with friends! This beautiful, moving, narrative poem is a joy to work with and I hope you will join me for another month of study.

Advanced Old English: Genesis A 1

The long poem that scholars have named Genesis A is a retelling and adaptation of the first 22 chapters of Genesis into a Germanic heroic poem! Among the many points of interest is that this poem contains the FIRST time in intellectual history that the NARRATIVE of the Fall of the Angels is told and made a part of the Creation Story. The poem is almost as long as Beowulf, so this module will start at the beginning and get as far as we get, with plans to return to it in future modules.

Advanced Old English: Genesis A 2

This is a continuation from where we left off in Genesis A 2... The long poem that scholars have named Genesis A is a retelling and adaptation of the first 22 chapters of Genesis into a Germanic heroic poem! Among the many points of interest is that this poem contains the FIRST time in intellectual history that the NARRATIVE of the Fall of the Angels is told and made a part of the Creation Story. The poem is almost as long as Beowulf, so this module began at the beginning of the poem and now we shall continue where we left off!

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.

Advanced Old English Readings in Poetry: Judith and Exodus

The Early English adapted Biblical material into heroic poetry. In this module two of those poems will be translated and discussed, each only a few hundred lines.

Advanced Old English Readings in Prose: the Old English Boethius

Alfred the Great had Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy translated into Old English. This module will translate and comment on this translation and how it adapts the late Roman text to the early medieval context.

Advanced Old English: Riddles

This module will focus on reading a number of Riddles in Old English. The Riddles cover a wide range of subjects from the bawdy to sublime, aimed at both lower class and learned classes. In short, they are fun!

Advanced Old English: Selections in Prose

For this module a selection of prose texts not usually encountered in readings classes will be examined. First, the Life of St. Swithun. When this is finished we will explore short selections from Alfred's Laws, a charter or two, and a will from a tenth century noble woman to round out the module.

Advanced Old English Series: Readings in Poetry

Welcome to the Readings in Poetry page for the Advanced Old English Series in which students explore, in alternating months, a work of prose and then a work of poetry to introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old English texts available for study. Each month Dr. Swain surveys the group to see what they want to tackle next from month to month.

Advanced Old English Series: Readings in Poetry and Prose

In this series of Advanced Old English Readings we explore, in alternating months, a work of prose and then a work of poetry to introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old English texts available for study. Each month Dr. Swain surveys the group to see what they want to tackle next from month to month.

Advanced Old English Series: Readings in Prose

Welcome to the Readings in Prose page for the Advanced Old English Series in which students explore, in alternating months, a work of prose and then a work of poetry to introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old English texts available for study. Each month Dr. Swain surveys the group to see what they want to tackle next from month to month.

Advanced Old English: The Blickling Homilies

April is often mostly a Lenten month (though in 2023 Easter is April 9). The collection of homilies known as the Blickling Homilies has a number of Lenten homilies, especially at the beginning of the collection. It is then fitting to have the two together! The homilies were collected together from diverse sources in the second half of the tenth century. The collection is contemporary then with the Genesis A manuscript and the Beowulf manuscript and Aelfric of Eynsham. But these prose texts appear Mercian in dialect, and would have made Tolkien happy. They are called "Blickling" because they were discovered in the library of Blickling Hall in Norfolk.

Advanced Old English: Tolkien's Old English Poetry

Most people know that J. R. R. Tolkien was a scholar as well as a writer of speculative fiction. His scholarship was extensive and one of his primary areas was Old English language and literature. But fewer fans know that he also composed poetry in Old English, especially in the early stages of his career. This module will attempt to gather and translate Tolkien's Old English poetry from the various sources in HoME and other sources where they are printed.

Beginning Greek 1

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! The first module seeks to introduce learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 10

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 11

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 12

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 2

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 3

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 4

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 5

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 6

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 7

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 8

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek 9

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! We continue our study introducing learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Beginning Greek Series

Want to read the NT in the original Greek? The Greek translation of the Old Testament? This module’s for you! The first module seeks to introduce learners to the basics of ancient Greek: the alphabet, introduction to the verb system (tenses and moods) and the noun system (the very helpful article, first and second declension). Over several modules, the students will learn the foundations of the language and then students will be able to read texts.

Bible as Literature: Minor Prophets

This module explores the Minor Prophets. What is a prophet? How was a prophet expected to "operate" in the Ancient World? How do Hebrew prophets compare to prophets from other traditions in their world? What is the message of the prophets? These questions and more will be addressed in this module. Those with Hebrew, Greek, or Latin are welcome to use their skills in this module, though these are not required.

Bible as Literature: The Gospels in the Their Contexts

This module considers the gospels in their contexts; addressing their genre, the communities to whom they are addressed, their origins, early tradition and legend about how they came to be, comparisons of their literatures to other Hellenistic and Near Eastern ones, the synoptic problem, and related issues.

Big Bold Beowulf: A Study of the Poem

Always wanted to study Beowulf? Here's your opportunity. In our 8 hours together, we will delve into the worlds of the poem, examine the major critical elements, and seek to understand the poem better.

Chaucer in Middle English: The Canterbury Tales

Read what Chaucer wrote in his own language! The famed Canterbury Tales are a wonderful read in Middle English and this module will focus on The Miller’s Tale.

Easy Koine Greek Readings

Got Greek? This module is meant for those who have some Classical or Koine Greek and want to brush up in a fun, low-key, no pressure module with others in the same boat. Ever wonder what'd be like to read texts like the Gospel of Thomas or I Enoch about the Watchers? Then this is for you!

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.

More from Dr. Swain about this module: I love reading and writing. Both are "technological" revolutions that effected historical moments in human history. This module will look at the development of writing and of reading, the kinds of materials we have written on, and how we prepared those surfaces to record our words. We will learn vocabulary that is used to talk about all this. There will be a lot of pretty pictures!

Intermediate Greek Readings Series

This series will help introduce students to the breadth and depth of Greek texts available for intermediate-level study. Each month, Dr. Larry Swain surveys the group to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

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: Gesta Romanorum

The Gesta Romanorum is a collection of tales covering all genres made in the 13th or early 14th century. The title means "Deeds of the Romans." Most of the tales have some kind of moral to the story and so are akin to Aesop's Fables; some are comedic, some dramatic. The Latin and the prose is straightforward for the most part. The collection was very influential through the rest of the Medieval period and well into the Modern. It was a source-book for preachers, dramatists (including that Shakespeare chap you may have heard tell of), poets, and even early novelists.

Intermediate Latin: Horace

Test your Latin skills by reading a great poet! Horace was a contemporary of Cicero, Vergil, Ovid and other classical poets of name. In this module we will translate and consider some of this poet's early satires, and some of his odes. The latter form influenced poets ever since including down into the modern period.

Intermediate Latin Reading: Catullus

This course is for those who have had beginning Latin and are ready to move on into reading and translating classical Latin authors.

Intermediate Latin Readings Series

This series will help introduce students to the breadth and depth of Latin texts available for intermediate-level study . Each month, Dr. Faith Acker and/or Dr. Larry Swain surveys the group using the Intermediate Latin Series survey form to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

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.

Latin: Augustine's Confessions

Augustine of Hippo is one of the most important thinkers and writers not only of his age but all subsequent ages as well. The Confessions was the first of its kind as an examination of a human being's interior life and thoughts. On the surface level it is a text about Augustine's journey to Christianity. On a deeper level it is an examination in psychology. And we get to read it in Latin!!

Latin: Plautus' Miles Gloriosus (the Braggart Soldier)

Plautus is one of the great playwrights of the ancient world; his surviving works influenced later drama, Medieval drama, and Shakespeare to name a few. In this play readers see the set up for many a modern situation comedy (both in TV short form and movie long form) complete with overbearing fathers, earnest and yearning young lovers, and wily but "heart-of gold" servants. 'Tis a hoot!

Latin: The Vulgate Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew through most of Church History was the most cited and the most commented on. This module reads that gospel in Latin and discusses important points of influence that various periods of Christian thought pondered. Along the way students will be introduced to other issues such as the history of the Bible in Latin, textual criticism and transmission, classical and medieval book culture, and artistic representations of important scenes.

Life in the Middle Ages

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

Each module in the Life in the Middle Ages series will focus on a different theme:
1. The Lives of Peasants
2. The Lives of Clergy
3. The Lives of Nobility

Life in the Middle Ages (August 2022)

This series 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.

Life in the Middle Ages: Clergy

Often when folks think of the Middle Ages, they think of the Medieval church. The church was no monolith, however. From the local parish priest to the popes, this module looks at the lives of the clergy: married or celibate, spiritual or worldly, anti-clericalism, and more.

Life in the Middle Ages: Nobility

It's good to be the king. This module looks at the lives of the people at the top of society. This is not about politics, but about their daily lives, the feasting, the interaction with lower classes, literature for them and about them, things that wealth could bring... What was the life of a noble really like?

Life in the Middle Ages: Peasants

We are taught in our culture about the "dark ages," from the so-called "Fall of Rome" to about 1500 or so. This module examines why the "dark ages" aren't dark by looking at the lives of peasants during the thousand year period.

Old English 1

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.

Old English 2

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.

Old English 3

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.

Old English 4

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.

Old English 5

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.

Old English 6

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.

Old English 7

Ready to begin learning Old English? This is the last module in a 7-part series which introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. Read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will be able to communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.

Old English Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.

Readings in Middle English before Chaucer: Havelock the Dane

Havelock the Dane is lovely fairy tale type story that sits between heroic epic and developing Romance genres looking into a now distant past, and showing how an unjustly treated child grows to be a great king.

Stump the Swain: Easy Classical Greek Readings

Greek....a language with a long history and so much wonderful literature to read!!

Had some Greek but need an excuse to brush up? Hone skills? Join this module!

The main text we will be using is designed for those beyond introductory Greek but not yet ready for picking up Pindar or Polybius. We will be using selections ranging in time and difficulty from Homer's Odyssey to the New Testament, with vocabulary and grammatical helps for each selection. Most importantly....come and have some fun!
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].