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

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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 Old English: Alice in Wonderland

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
These selections will help introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old English texts available for advanced study. Each month, Dr. Larry Swain and/or Dr. Isaac Schendel surveys the group to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

Some of the texts we could explore in a given month include:
Advanced Old English Readings: Beowulf I
Advanced Old English Readings: Beowulf II
Advanced Old English Readings: Riddles
Advanced Old English Readings in Prose: The Old English Boethius
Advanced Old English Readings: Genesis A 1
Advanced Old English Readings: Genesis A 2
Advanced Old English Readings in Poetry: Judith and Exodus
Advanced Old English Readings: Heroic Elegies
Advanced Old English Readings: Cynewulf's Juliana
Advanced Old English Readings: Cynewulf's Christ II
Advanced Old English Readings: Apollonius of Tyre
Advanced Old English Readings: Ælfric's Lives of the Saints
Advanced Old English Readings: Ælfric's Letter to Sigeweard
Advanced Old English Readings: The Blickling Homilies
Advanced Old English Readings: Selections in Prose
Advanced Old English: Alice in Wonderland
Advanced Old English: Tolkien's Old English Poetry

Including these texts taught by Dr. Isaac Schendel:
Readings in Old English: The Battle of Maldon & Group Reading
Intermediate Old English: The Homilies of Wulfstan
The Old Saxon for Old English Readers (The Old Saxon Hêliand I)

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.

Advanced Old English Readings: Cynewulf's Christ II

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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 Series: Readings in Poetry

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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: Tolkien's Old English Poetry

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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 Series

Mixed Lecture/Discussion •
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

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Low intensity
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

Lecture-based
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

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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

Lecture-based • Low intensity
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.

History of the Book Arts

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Low intensity
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

Discussion-based • Low intensity
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.

Some of the texts we could explore in a given month include:
Stump the Swain: Easy Classical Greek Readings
Easy Koine Greek Readings
Advanced Greek Readings: Gospel of Matthew
Advanced Greek Readings: Gospel of John Series
Advanced Greek Readings: Paul's Letter to the Galatians

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 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.

Life in the Middle Ages

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Low intensity
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: Clergy

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Low intensity
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

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Low intensity
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

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Low intensity
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 Series

Mixed Lecture/Discussion • Medium intensity
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

Discussion-based • Medium intensity
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.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].