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

Creative WritingGeneral Humanities • Fantasy Studies • LanguageGradOther

Fantasy Studies Modules

Adaptations of Middle-earth: From Deitch and Bakshi to Jackson

The long and tangled history of cinematic attempts to bring the world of Middle-earth to the big screen is full of fascinating what-ifs, insurmountable setbacks, and ultimately a slew of good, bad, and utterly bizarre movies as a result. In this module we will dive deep into the cinematic adaptations of Middle-earth and watch our way through the Gene Deitch Hobbit (1966), the Rankin/Bass Hobbit (1977), the Bakshi Lord of the Rings (1978), the Rankin/Bass Return of the King (1980), and the Peter Jackson Trilogies over the course of a month, meeting for discussion of each film's cinematic and adaptational merits (or lack thereof). We will also cover some of the film versions that almost happened (such as John Boorman's completed script) and the complicated history behind the production of the films that did come to light. There is a lot of material to cover, but where there's a whip, there's a way.
Precepted by Patrick Lyon

A Journey Through The History of the Hobbit Series of 3

Just as Christopher Tolkien did for the rest of his father’s Middle-earth works, John Rateliff has compiled the manuscripts and early versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and presented them with notes and commentary. In this three-part series, we will work our way through Rateliff’s book, The History of the Hobbit. From the first drafts where Gandalf was called Bladorthin (and Thorin was called Gandalf) to the later versions made to better fit with The Lord of the Rings, this SPACE series will give you a much better understanding of how The Hobbit was crafted and a new appreciation for the story that, in some respects, started it all. As well as Rateliff’s material, these modules will also feature some never-before-seen visualizations of The Hobbit draft texts from the Digital Tolkien Project.

Module 1: Chapters I through VII
Module 2: Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase
Module 3: The Third Phase onwards
Precepted by James Tauber

A Journey Through The History of the Hobbit 1 First in the Series

In Module 1 of our journey through The History of the Hobbit we will explore Chapters I through VII.

Just as Christopher Tolkien did for the rest of his father’s Middle-earth works, John Rateliff has compiled the manuscripts and early versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and presented them with notes and commentary. In this three-part series, we will work our way through Rateliff’s book, The History of the Hobbit. From the first drafts where Gandalf was called Bladorthin (and Thorin was called Gandalf) to the later versions made to better fit with The Lord of the Rings, this SPACE series will give you a much better understanding of how The Hobbit was crafted and a new appreciation for the story that, in some respects, started it all. As well as Rateliff’s material, these modules will also feature some never-before-seen visualizations of The Hobbit draft texts from the Digital Tolkien Project.

Module 1: Chapters I through VII
Module 2: Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase
Module 3: The Third Phase onwards
Precepted by James Tauber

A Journey Through The History of the Hobbit 2 Continuing Series

In Module 2 of our journey through The History of the Hobbit we will explore Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase.

Just as Christopher Tolkien did for the rest of his father’s Middle-earth works, John Rateliff has compiled the manuscripts and early versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and presented them with notes and commentary. In this three-part series, we will work our way through Rateliff’s book, The History of the Hobbit. From the first drafts where Gandalf was called Bladorthin (and Thorin was called Gandalf) to the later versions made to better fit with The Lord of the Rings, this SPACE series will give you a much better understanding of how The Hobbit was crafted and a new appreciation for the story that, in some respects, started it all. As well as Rateliff’s material, these modules will also feature some never-before-seen visualizations of The Hobbit draft texts from the Digital Tolkien Project.

Module 1: Chapters I through VII
Module 2: Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase
Module 3: The Third Phase onwards
Precepted by James Tauber

A Journey Through The History of the Hobbit 3 Continuing Series

In Module 3 of our journey through The History of the Hobbit we will explore The Third Phase onwards.

Just as Christopher Tolkien did for the rest of his father’s Middle-earth works, John Rateliff has compiled the manuscripts and early versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and presented them with notes and commentary. In this three-part series, we will work our way through Rateliff’s book, The History of the Hobbit. From the first drafts where Gandalf was called Bladorthin (and Thorin was called Gandalf) to the later versions made to better fit with The Lord of the Rings, this SPACE series will give you a much better understanding of how The Hobbit was crafted and a new appreciation for the story that, in some respects, started it all. As well as Rateliff’s material, these modules will also feature some never-before-seen visualizations of The Hobbit draft texts from the Digital Tolkien Project.

Module 1: Chapters I through VII
Module 2: Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase
Module 3: The Third Phase onwards
Precepted by James Tauber

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth (HoMe Series) Series of 12

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

In this series of SPACE modules, we will tackle one volume per month over the course of a year. Each month-long module will provide an overview of a volume in context as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. Each module will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Book of Lost Tales, Part One (HoMe 1) First in the Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume One, The Book of Lost Tales Part One, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two (HoMe 2) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume Two, The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read The History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Lays of Beleriand (HoMe 3) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on The History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume Three, The Lays of Beleriand, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Lost Road and Other Writings (HoMe 5) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume Five, The Lost Road and Other Writings, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Peoples of Middle-earth (HoMe 12) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the final book (Volume Twelve), The Peoples of Middle-earth, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Shaping of Middle-earth (HoMe 4) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume Four, The Shaping of Middle-earth, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of the Lord of the Rings: Sauron Defeated (HoMe 9) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the fourth and final book in The History of The Lord of the Rings, The Treason of Isengard (Volume Nine of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Shadow (HoMe 6) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the first book in The History of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the Shadow (Volume Six of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of the Lord of the Rings: The Treason of Isengard (HoMe 7) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the second book in The History of The Lord of the Rings, The Treason of Isengard (Volume Seven of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The History of the Lord of the Rings: The War of the Ring (HoMe 8) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the third book in The History of The Lord of the Rings, The War of the Ring (Volume Eight of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearances from Tolkien scholar, John Garth, and from Marquette University Archivist, William Fliss.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturers Dr. William Fliss and John Garth

A Journey Through The Later Silmarillion, Part One: Morgoth's Ring (HoMe 10) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the first book in The Later Silmarillion, Morgoth's Ring (Volume Ten of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

A Journey Through The Later Silmarillion, Part Two: The War of the Jewels (HoMe 11) Continuing Series

Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the second book in The Later Silmarillion, The War of the Jewels (Volume Eleven of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.
Precepted by James Tauber
with guest lecturer John Garth

Arcane: League of Legends

Breathtaking animation, sound design, and worldbuilding combined to make Arcane one of 2021's unexpected animated hits.

Join us for this SPACE module where we'll do an episode-by-episode watch and discussion of this fantastic show.
Precepted by Keli Fancher

Are You Tolkien To Me?

Why are the works of J.R.R. Tolkien still so relevant to us in the 21st century? In this course, we will look at some of the central themes of his novels, including Family, Home, Good vs. Evil, and Loss, exploring how Tolkien is still speaking to us almost fifty years after his death.

There are no required texts for this course, however, you may find having a copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings very useful (any edition).
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Book Club: Dune by Frank Herbert (Part I: Dune) First in the Series

Kull Wahad, let’s read Frank Herbert’s Dune! Join us for the first module in a series of three modules in which we closely read Frank Herbert’s masterwork. We will explore themes like heroism, mythology, history, ecology, politics and religion while following the dynastic struggles between the Atreides family and the ruthless Harkonnens. Every week, you will get to connect with fellow book lovers and share your insights. This module is perfect for the creative writer looking to pick up techniques through close reading, or for anyone looking for a cozy book club. Let the spice flow!

Module 1: Book I: Dune
Module 2: Book II: Muad’dib
Module 3: Book III: The Prophet
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Dune by Frank Herbert (Part III: The Prophet) Continuing Series

Kull Wahad, let’s read Frank Herbert’s Dune! Join us for the final module of our series in which we closely read Frank Herbert’s masterwork. We will explore themes like heroism, mythology, history, ecology, politics and religion while following the dynastic struggles between the Atreides family and the ruthless Harkonnens. Every week, you will get to connect with fellow book lovers and share your insights. This module is perfect for the creative writer looking to pick up techniques through close reading, or for anyone looking for a cozy book club. Let the spice flow!

Module 1: Book I: Dune
Module 2: Book II: Muad’dib
Module 3: Book III: The Prophet

Note: If you did not participate in an earlier module of this series, please consider joining still! You would be most welcome to jump in mid-stream with us.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Dune by Frank Herbert (Part II: Muad’dib) Continuing Series

Kull Wahad, let’s read Frank Herbert’s Dune! Join us for the second module in a series of three modules in which we closely read Frank Herbert’s masterwork. We will explore themes like heroism, mythology, history, ecology, politics and religion while following the dynastic struggles between the Atreides family and the ruthless Harkonnens. Every week, you will get to connect with fellow book lovers and share your insights. This module is perfect for the creative writer looking to pick up techniques through close reading, or for anyone looking for a cozy book club. Let the spice flow!

Module 1: Book I: Dune
Module 2: Book II: Muad’dib
Module 3: Book III: The Prophet

Note: If you did not participate in module 1 of this series, please consider joining still! You would be most welcome to jump in mid-stream with us.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Dune by Frank Herbert (Series) Series of 3

Kull Wahad, let’s read Frank Herbert’s Dune! In this series of three modules, we will closely read Frank Herbert’s masterwork. We will explore themes like heroism, mythology, history, ecology, politics and religion while following the dynastic struggles between the Atreides family and the ruthless Harkonnens. Every week, you will get to connect with fellow book lovers and share your insights. This module is perfect for the creative writer looking to pick up techniques through close reading, or for anyone looking for a cozy book club. Let the spice flow!

Module 1: Book I: Dune
Module 2: Book II: Muad’dib
Module 3: Book III: The Prophet
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Ha! Ha! You’re Mine!

Considered the first sci-fi novel, Frankenstein is much more than the famous monster who has entered pop culture. From philosophy to science, this novel deals with many issues, confuses the reader, and makes us wonder who the real hero is. We will discuss the themes, imagery, character development, and the many different allusions to other texts mentioned in the book in a relaxed and interactive way.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Book Club: Chapterhouse Dune 1 First in the Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the Frank Herbert's final Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune. The universe as we know it is gone, as the Honored Matres sweep across the stars and destroy everything in their path. On the remote world Chapterhouse, a handful of rebel Bene Gesserit fight to preserve the last sandworms and the hope of humanity...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Chapterhouse Dune 2 Continuing Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the Frank Herbert's final Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune. The universe as we know it is gone, as the Honored Matres sweep across the stars and destroy everything in their path. On the remote world Chapterhouse, a handful of rebel Bene Gesserit fight to preserve the last sandworms and the hope of humanity...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Chapterhouse Dune Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the Frank Herbert's final Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune. The universe as we know it is gone, as the Honored Matres sweep across the stars and destroy everything in their path. On the remote world Chapterhouse, a handful of rebel Bene Gesserit fight to preserve the last sandworms and the hope of humanity...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Gulping gargoyles, let's read the next Harry Potter book!

By popular demand, here is the long-awaited Harry Potter book club! We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over one month, we will follow twelve-year-old Harry's adventures as he uncovers the dark secrets lurking beneath Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Whispers and plots abound within the castle, as Harry must confront the evil legacy of Voldemort.

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 1 First in the Series

Wands at the ready, let's read the fourth Harry Potter book!

We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over two months, we will follow fourteen-year-old Harry's adventures as he is forced to compete in the deadly Triwizard Tournament. But who entered him in the tournament, and why? The answers will reveal the dark forces poised to destroy the wizarding world...

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2 Continuing Series

Wands at the ready, let's read the fourth Harry Potter book!

We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over two months, we will follow fourteen-year-old Harry's adventures as he is forced to compete in the deadly Triwizard Tournament. But who entered him in the tournament, and why? The answers will reveal the dark forces poised to destroy the wizarding world...

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Series

Wands at the ready, let's read the fourth Harry Potter book!

We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over two months, we will follow fourteen-year-old Harry's adventures as he is forced to compete in the deadly Triwizard Tournament. But who entered him in the tournament, and why? The answers will reveal the dark forces poised to destroy the wizarding world...

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Blimey, let's read the third Harry Potter book!
We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over one month, we will follow thirteen-year-old Harry's adventures as he contends with an escaped mass murderer. Yet all is not as it seems. As Harry grapples with the consequences of a hidden betrayal, he must confront the meaning of fear. Failure may just cost him his soul…

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Merlin's beard, let's read the first Harry Potter book!

By popular demand, here is the long-awaited Harry Potter book club! We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

First, we will go back to where it all began, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Over one month, we will follow eleven-year-old Harry's adventures as he commences his study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Together, we will explore themes like friendship, courage, and the power of love.

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Heretics of Dune 1 First in the Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the fifth Dune novel, Heretics of Dune. 1500 years after the reign of Leto II, humanity is locked on the path laid out by the tyrant. Yet a new threat emerges from the shadows: the Honored Matres, a deadly ecstatic cult bent upon the destruction of the planet Dune...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Heretics of Dune 2 Continuing Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the fifth Dune novel, Heretics of Dune. 1500 years after the reign of Leto II, humanity is locked on the path laid out by the tyrant. Yet a new threat emerges from the shadows: the Honored Matres, a deadly ecstatic cult bent upon the destruction of the planet Dune...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Heretics of Dune Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the fifth Dune novel, Heretics of Dune. 1500 years after the reign of Leto II, humanity is locked on the path laid out by the tyrant. Yet a new threat emerges from the shadows: the Honored Matres, a deadly ecstatic cult bent upon the destruction of the planet Dune...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Epistolary fiction may have you thinking of Frankenstein and Dracula, but they were just the beginning. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone builds on the epistolary tradition while creating a whole new experience with their epistolary science fiction/time travel/lgbtqia+ romance novella. We will explore the framing, narrative, metaphor, character, and linguistic choices of the authors in depth as we take our time dissecting this novella with fellow book lovers.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Book Club: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (Books I - VI) Series of 6

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club series, where participants come to our Club meetings with their own reflections and discussion questions about the text. YOU get to guide the magic! Each month, our readings will focus on one of the six Books in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Bring a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and enjoy!

Book Club: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring (Part One) First in the Series

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club series, where participants come to our Club meetings with their own reflections and discussion questions about the text. YOU get to guide the magic! In this module, our readings will specifically focus on Book I of The Lord of the Rings. Bring a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and enjoy!

Book Club: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring (Part Two) Continuing Series

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club series, where participants come to our Club meetings with their own reflections and discussion questions about the text. YOU get to guide the magic! In this module, our readings will specifically focus on Book II of The Lord of the Rings. Bring a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and enjoy!

Book Club: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King (Part One) Continuing Series

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club series, where participants come to our Club meetings with their own reflections and discussion questions about the text. YOU get to guide the magic! In this module, our readings will specifically focus on Book V of The Lord of the Rings. Bring a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and enjoy!

Book Club: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King (Part Two) Continuing Series

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club series, where participants come to our Club meetings with their own reflections and discussion questions about the text. YOU get to guide the magic! In this module, our readings will specifically focus on Book VI of The Lord of the Rings. Bring a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and enjoy!

Book Club: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers (Part One) Continuing Series

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club series, where participants come to our Club meetings with their own reflections and discussion questions about the text. YOU get to guide the magic! In this module, our readings will specifically focus on Book III of The Lord of the Rings. Bring a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and enjoy!

Book Club: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers (Part Two) Continuing Series

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club series, where participants come to our Club meetings with their own reflections and discussion questions about the text. YOU get to guide the magic! In this module, our readings will specifically focus on Book IV of The Lord of the Rings. Bring a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and enjoy!

Bridge to The Silmarillion

This course is intended for people who have read The Lord of the Rings and are beginners to The Silmarillion. We will re-read various passages from Lord of the Rings that make reference to First Age people, places, and events: the mighty Elf-friends of old, the Exile of the Elves; the Tale of Tinúviel; the story of Eärendil and more. We will whet our appetites and gather some motivating questions that will make a future journey into The Silmarillion easier and more enjoyable.
Precepted by James Tauber

Cosmere Club - Mistborn Series of 3

Come join us for the first iteration of Cosmere Club--a friendly, book-club styled series of modules-- exploring Brandon Sanderson's "Cosmere." We will begin Cosmere Club with an exploration of Sanderson's Mistborn series.
Precepted by Keli Fancher

Cosmere Club - Mistborn: The Final Empire First in the Series

"You should try not to talk so much, friend. You'll sound far less stupid that way." - Breeze

Don't let Breeze dissuade you, come join us for this module where we'll read (and yes talk about) Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire.

Book-talk is always welcome!
Precepted by Keli Fancher

Cosmere Club - Mistborn: The Hero of Ages Continuing Series

Join us as we continue our exploration of the Cosmere with the final book in the original Mistborn trilogy.

Whether or not you've taken the preceding modules or not, all that we ask is that you come to this class ready to have a great time diving into Sanderson's Cosmere through our group discussions.
Precepted by Keli Fancher

Cosmere Club - Mistborn: The Well of Ascension Continuing Series

Join us as we continue our exploration of the Cosmere with the second book in the original Mistborn trilogy.

Whether you've taken the first module or not, all that we ask is that you come to this class ready to have a great time diving into Sanderson's Cosmere through our group discussions.
Precepted by Keli Fancher

Discovering Terry Pratchett's Discworld: Which Witch is Which?

Terry Pratchett's witches - Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick - are more than just a marvelous spoof of those in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. In addition to their undoubted comedic value, they are also a voice for some of the major themes of the Discworld novels. Through readings of extracts from the relevant novels, as well as reference to some modern scholarship, we will examine the differences between witch magic and wizard magic; the role of witches in Discworld society; Pratchett's representations of gender; themes of power and authority, and the presentation of the minor witch characters. Access to the listed texts is desirable. Prior knowledge of at least the majority of the listed texts will be assumed.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Discovering the Discworld: Aching and Growing

Terry Pratchett said that Tiffany Aching "...started with a girl lying down by a river, on the first page of The Wee Free Men". With the character of Tiffany, a witch-in-training with initially only a frying pan and her common sense to help her, Pratchett said that he wanted to "restate" the purpose of magic on the Discworld and the relationship between wizards, witches, and others. He included ideas of responsibility and "guarding your society" as he felt it drew closer to the reality of a witch – that is, "the village herbalist, the midwife, the person who knew things". Pratchett chose a young protagonist because when you're young "you have to learn," and he chose the name "Tiffany" because it evoked anything but a powerful witch.

Throughout the series, Tiffany grows both as a young girl and woman and as a witch. In this course, we will follow the arc of Tiffany’s progress from naïve young girl to a powerful witch in her own right, who takes over from Granny Weatherwax, is hailed by the Nac Mac Feagle as their new ‘hag o’ the hills,’ and whose name, in their language, is Tir-far-thóinn or "Land Under Wave."

Access to the listed texts is desirable. Prior knowledge of at least the majority of the listed texts will be assumed.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Discovering the Discworld: Quis Custodiet Custard?

Terry Pratchett’s early work fits the category of parody, and his later work certainly maintains that early mocking spirit. In his later Discworld novels, however, especially The City Watch sequence, Pratchett turns his mocking lens from generic conventions and tropes to the dangerous ideologies and power structures that permeate contemporary urban life. Edward James calls The City Watch novels “the most political of Pratchett’s works,” and Neil Gaiman reminds us that “beneath any jollity, there is a foundation of fury.” Pratchett’s “fury” and the City Watch novels’ politics together invite us to consider the sequence as social satire and explore what Pratchett may be arguing needs to change, whilst still enjoying the novels for their humour and wonderfully entertaining narrative style.

In this course, we will explore The City Watch novels and do exactly that: laugh and have fun whilst discussing the underlying messages that Pratchett offers us.

Access to the listed texts is desirable. Prior knowledge of at least the majority of the listed texts will be assumed.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Discovering the Discworld: The Existential Angst of Death

Like most literary Grim Reapers, Discworld’s Death is a black-robed skeleton (usually - he wears the Dean's "Born to Rune" leather jacket in Soul Music, and overalls in Reaper Man), carrying a scythe or, for royalty, a sword. He is an anthropomorphised personification of a natural process who sometimes has his duties carried out by his apprentice Mort, or his granddaughter Susan, and is occasionally accompanied by the Death of Rats. The Death of Pratchett’s Discworld is a parody of several other personifications of death; unlike many of them, though, he has a personality beyond this. As an immortal outside observer, Death is fascinated by humans, puzzled both by their stupidity and their fortitude despite it. Often out of concern for their well-being, or sometimes simply curiosity, he tries to understand the ways of humans – why and how they do the things they do. Needless to say, this leads to all sorts of disasters (including taking time off from his job reaping souls to become a farmer) but, in the process, Death learns ever more about humans and begins to sympathise with them. Death has many purposes in the narratives; however, in this compelling character, Pratchett has created a figure that makes us laugh but more importantly, he makes us think. In some ways, the Death series is ironically the most human of all.

Access to the listed required texts is desirable and prior knowledge of at least the majority of those texts will be assumed.

We will also be talking about Death’s appearances in other Discworld books, as well as in the short story "Death and What Comes Next" (provided as a pdf).
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Eating Our Way Through Anime

What can a carefully arranged bento box show us about a protagonist’s emotions? How does a steaming bowl of ramen help tell a story? Anime is known for its detailed, mouthwatering portrayals of food. But what exactly makes these artistic culinary delights so special, and why do we keep coming back for more?

In this module, we will consider many aspects of food in anime and its relationship with fandom, culture, and history, and how food signals certain things about characters, settings, and relationships.

Come help us eat our way through anime!

Exploring Journey to the West 西遊記

One of the most beloved of all classical Chinese novels, Journey to the West features Monkey, Pig, Sand-demon, White Horse, and the monk Tripitaka as they make a pilgrimage from Tang-dynasty Chang’an to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures, having outrageous adventures all along the way. Full of humor and wit, this is a major work of East Asian fantastic literature. Come along with Monkey and the gang for a tour through this foundational text!
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring Mob Psycho 100

In Mob Psycho 100, Shigeo Kageyama ("Mob") is an ordinary middle school student who also happens to have strong psychic abilities. Between his part-time job as an exorcist's assistant, his desire to fit in at school, and the weird things that tend to happen to him, he struggles to find the ordinary life he craves. This series turns many of the tropes of battle-shounen anime on their head, while also exploring what it means to be a good person and find the life you want -- while also including some incredible action sequences. Please join us for a discussion of the themes, tropes, and characters of this unusual show.

Module structure:
Session 1: Episodes 1-3
Session 2: Episodes 4-6
Session 3: Episodes 7-9
Session 4: Episodes 10-12 (end of season 1)
Session 5: Episodes 13-15
Session 6: Episodes 16-19
Session 7: Episodes 20-22
Session 8: Episodes 23-25 (end of season 2)

Exploring Natsume’s Book of Friends: Part 1 First in the Series

Natsume’s Book of Friends is a contemplative and heartfelt anime/manga series about a boy who inherited a book from his grandmother, allowing him to control youkai. Instead, he chooses to free them. This series sits at the intersection of fantasy and slice of life, and it touches on many aspects of Japanese folklore and culture, at the same time telling a story about connection and compassion. In this module, we will watch and discuss the first two seasons of the anime, paying particular attention to themes including: the iyashikei (healing) genre of anime, the portrayal of youkai in popular culture, and the use of concepts and imagery from Japanese literature and folklore in the series.

This module is primarily discussion based, with some contextual information provided by the preceptor. There will be a Google Doc for class discussion and your preceptor will use slides, but sparingly.

Exploring Natsume’s Book of Friends Series Series of 3

Natsume’s Book of Friends is a contemplative and heartfelt anime/manga series about a boy who inherited a book from his grandmother, allowing him to control youkai. Instead, he chooses to free them. This series sits at the intersection of fantasy and slice of life, and it touches on many aspects of Japanese folklore and culture, at the same time telling a story about connection and compassion.

This series is primarily discussion based, with some contextual information provided by the preceptor. There will be a Google Doc for class discussion and your preceptor will use slides, but sparingly.

Exploring Violet Evergarden

Come join us for a stunning coming-of-age fantasy anime that follows the story of Violet Evergarden, a former soldier who finds forgiveness, healing, and self-worth through the unassuming power of writing letters. In this module, we will discuss how Violet Evergarden functions as a postwar recovery and travel story, as well as the anime’s use of Victorian and post-World War I aesthetics to tell Violet’s unusual yet unforgettable tale.

Exploring William Gibson's Jackpot

Attn: All continua enthusiasts and stub residents, join us as we delve into the world of William Gibson's recent novel and Amazon Prime series, The Peripheral. A world of branch universes, nanobot assassinations, attenuated time travel and kleptocrats, all under the ever-watchful Periwinkle eyes of Detective Inspector Ainsley Lowbeer and the looming Jackpot. If you have read the novels already, this is a great chance to revisit them in light of the Amazon series for The Peripheral which began in 2022. If you have never read William Gibson, this is an opportunity to explore Gibson's particular flavor of fast-paced action, braided narratives, and provocative ideas.
Precepted by Dr. Patrick Malloy

Exploring William Gibson's Jackpot: Agency

Agency is the second novel of William Gibson's Jackpot Trilogy. Agency's timeline emerges in a branch universe where the 2016 election went otherwise and a somewhat salty AI assistant gets loose in the internet. Nanobot assassinations and attenuated time travel, surly barristas and tech billionaires, smart-ass AI and an elderly super-empowerd Detective Inspector Ainsley work to avoid the blades of the looming Jackpot. Although a sequel to The Peripheral, you need not have read that book to enjoy Agency. Please join us!
Precepted by Dr. Patrick Malloy

Fairy Tales: From Apples to Bears

In this module, we will answer questions such as: what is a fairy tale? Why do we tell stories? What is the function of fairy tales? What are some recurring themes? Stories to be discussed include Snow White (with and without dwarfs), Little Red Riding-hood, the Little Match Girl, Thumbelina, and East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Fairy Tales: Rats, Mice, and Birds

In this module, we will continue to explore fairy tales and discuss questions such as: what is the role of nature in fairy tales? What is the role of animals? What are some recurring themes in these tales? Stories to be discussed include “Cinderella”, “The Turnip”, “The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage”, “The Forest Bride”, “The Daisy”, and “Five out of a Pod”.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Fairy Tales Studies: Exploring Fairy Tales from Around the World and from Different Authors

Sudying fairy tales takes us back to a time when stories where passed from culture to culture. These stories, replicated around the world, deal with fears and axieties, but they also give us hope as it is the smallest and most vulnerable the one who usually triumphs.

In these modules, we will explore different authors and fairy tales from around the world. Students will have the opportunity to read and re-read the Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Andersen, Andrew Lang, Oscar Wilde and fairy tales from differnet cultures such as Russia, and Japan. Each month, our preceptors will survey the group using to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

We offer the following Fairy Tales Studies modules:
Fairy Tales: An Adventure from the Writer's Perspective
Fairy Tales: From Apples to Bears
Fairy Tales: Rats, Mice, and Birds
Fairy Tales: Tricksters, Fools, and Villains
Introduction to Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales
Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales: A House of Pomegranates
Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales: The Happy Prince and Other Tales
Japanese Fairy Tales and Children's Literature
Russian Fairy Tales: Journeys, Quests, and Chicken Legs
Yōkai and Legends: Exploring the Weird in Japanese and Latin American Cultures
Encountering the Japanese Weird through Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan
Exploring Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham
Fairy Tales: Beauty and the Beast

Note: Each module stands on its own and no previous knowledge is required. The idea is to read and discuss these stories, their themes, imagery, and see how we respond to them.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Fairy Tales: Tricksters, Fools, and Villains

In this module, we will examine fairy tales about tricksters and villains. We will discuss questions such as: why are tricksters important? What is the role of villains? What are some recurring themes in these tales? Stories to be discussed include “Hansel and Gretel”, “Bluebeard”, “Hans in Luck”, “Momotaro, the Peach Boy”, “The Bremen Musicians”, “The Old Woman and the Tramp”, and “The Tinder Box”.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Geology of Fictional Worlds

This course introduces the student to the various aspects of geology and how they can relate to worldbuilding and mapmaking. This includes continents, plate tectonics, mountains, water, glaciers, planetary patterns, the distribution of rock types and natural resources, natural disasters and weather patterns. This background would allow students to better evaluate fictional maps as well as create them. Examples will be drawn from Middle-earth, Earth-sea, Westeros, Dungeons and Dragons, and suggestions from students.
Precepted by Shawn Gaffney

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Beginnings

Grab a cup of tea and join Keli for a relaxed viewing and discussion of the first half of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

This is the first of two modules dedicated to covering the entire original series in preparation for a future module on Netflix's upcoming live action as an adaptation of Book 1 from the original series.
Precepted by Keli Fancher

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Endings

Grab a cup of tea and join Keli for a relaxed viewing and discussion of the second half of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

This is the second of two modules dedicated to covering the entire original series in preparation for a future module on Netflix's upcoming live action as an adaptation of Book 1 from the original series.
Precepted by Keli Fancher

Babylon 5: Who Are You?

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.
Precepted by Dr. Faith Acker

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: Redemption

Join us for the second of two modules dedicated to exploring Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. In this second module we’ll cover episodes 33-64 and the development and placement of its major themes including Truth, Science, Religion, Oppression, and Loss amongst others. Attending the next module in this series is not required, but for full enjoyment it’s definitely recommended.
Precepted by Keli Fancher

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: Sin

Join us for the first of two modules dedicated to exploring the Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. anime series. In this first module we’ll cover episodes 1-32 and the development and placement of its major themes including Truth, Science, Religion, Oppression, and Loss amongst others. Attending the next module in this series is not required, but for full enjoyment it’s definitely recommended.
Precepted by Keli Fancher

His Dark Materials in Context: The Amber Spyglass

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

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

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)

In the Age of Wonder: The Many Themes of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal, a film directed and created by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, was released at Christmastime in 1982. An attempt at a more mature and decidedly darker direction for Henson, it performed modestly in the box office to mixed reviews. Despite its poor initial beginnings, over the next 42 years, The Dark Crystal became a cult classic. Why the appeal all these years later? In this class we will explore this multifaceted dark fantasy as a stand of world building from the better appreciated “Muppet” canon. Over the course of eight sessions we will discuss the world of Thra through the film itself, seen afresh with the new lenses of various forms of modern criticism. Please join us for a combination of short lectures and lively discussion of this visual and technical masterpiece whether you’re a long-time fan or neophyte.
Precepted by Kerra Fletcher and Jay Moses

Introduction to Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales

In this module, we will read and discuss some of Andersen’s fairy tales. We will talk about their plot, characters, and specific imagery. We will also discuss Andersen’s influence on subsequent authors and expressions in different media.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales: A House of Pomegranates

Poignant, hilarious, ironic, sad, beautiful, Oscar Wilde’s literary fairy tales evoke vivid and intense imagery and discuss topics such as social status, wealth, and Christianity. In these modules, we will read and discuss Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales. We will talk about the plot, characters, specific nuances of the language, use of irony, and symbolism. We will also discuss stories that influenced some of the tales, especially Andersen’s tales such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Shadow,” “The Darning Needle,” and others.

This module is part of a two-module series, but each one stands alone and is independent from the other. In the first module, we will talk about the fairy tales from The Happy Prince and Other Tales, and in the second module we will discuss A House of Pomegranates.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales: The Happy Prince and Other Tales

Poignant, hilarious, ironic, sad, beautiful, Oscar Wilde’s literary fairy tales evoke vivid and intense imagery and discuss topics such as social status, wealth, and Christianity. In these modules, we will read and discuss Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales. We will talk about the plot, characters, specific nuances of the language, use of irony, and symbolism. We will also discuss stories that influenced some of the tales, especially Andersen’s tales such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Shadow,” “The Darning Needle,” and others.

This module is part of a two-module series, but each one stands alone and is independent from the other. In the first module, we will talk about the fairy tales from The Happy Prince and Other Tales, and in the second module we will discuss A House of Pomegranates.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Japanese Fairy Tales and Children's Literature

In this module we will talk about Japanese children’s literature and fairy tales and their connection to specific Japanese cultural aspects and values such as the acceptance of death and the imperfection of the world.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

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!

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún

Love, power, betrayal, death; the occasional dragon and cursed ring. All these are to be found in the legends of the Vǫlsungs and Niflungs, amongst the most popular and abiding legends of the medieval Germanic-speaking and Norse worlds. J.R.R. Tolkien reworked these into two poems in Modern English patterned after the alliterative style of Old Norse poems. In this module, we read Tolkien’s poems and their accompanying commentary to see how Tolkien wrought his own retelling of these ancient tales, and we’ll trace the connections across from the original medieval legends through Tolkien’s retelling to his original works of fantasy set in Middle-earth.
Precepted by Dr. Carl Anderson

J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club setting and discuss the joy of Tolkien’s beloved Christmas tale.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy and relaxed Book Club as we read and discuss J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit.

Knewbetta’s Guide to The Silmarillion

Is The Silmarillion your favorite book? Is it your least-favorite book? Whether you’re reading it for the first or fiftieth time, KnewBettaDoBetta will help you see it in a more fun, relatable way!

Tolkien’s The Silmarillion is inarguably a complex read. KnewBetta seeks to make it more accessible by teaching the lore in an understandable way. His hope is that everyone can share his knowledge and passion! This course will look at characters, relationships, relatable themes, and meanings that you may not have explored yet.
Precepted by Knewbetta

Le Guin's Earthsea Series Series of 3

Ursula K. Le Guin explores themes of power, love, nature, gender, art, politics, and more through her richly-developed world of Earthsea, drawing upon literary, philosophical, religious, and anthropological interests in doing so. We will walk on the islands of Earthsea and dive into its waters as we discover beloved, and maybe hidden or controversial, aspects of Le Guin’s masterpiece.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
The Earthsea Series consists of 3 modules exploring a different Cycle of Le Guin's expansive work:
• Module 1 explores A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan,
• Module 2 explores The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, and
• Module 3 explores The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
NOTE: Students can jump in at any month/part of the Series.

Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Le Guin's Earthsea Series: A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan First in the Series

This present module is for Module 1 of the Earthsea Series, exploring A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan.

Ursula K. Le Guin explores themes of power, love, nature, gender, art, politics, and more through her richly-developed world of Earthsea, drawing upon literary, philosophical, religious, and anthropological interests in doing so. We will walk on the islands of Earthsea and dive into its waters as we discover beloved, and maybe hidden or controversial, aspects of Le Guin’s masterpiece.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
The Earthsea Series consists of 3 modules exploring a different Cycle of Le Guin's expansive work:
• Module 1 explores A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan,
• Module 2 explores The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, and
• Module 3 explores The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
NOTE: Students can jump in at any month/part of the Series.

Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Le Guin's Earthsea Series: The Farthest Shore and Tehanu Continuing Series

This present module is for Module 2 of the Earthsea Series, exploring_The Farthest Shore_ and Tehanu.

Ursula K. Le Guin explores themes of power, love, nature, gender, art, politics, and more through her richly-developed world of Earthsea, drawing upon literary, philosophical, religious, and anthropological interests in doing so. We will walk on the islands of Earthsea and dive into its waters as we discover beloved, and maybe hidden or controversial, aspects of Le Guin’s masterpiece.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
The Earthsea Series consists of 3 modules exploring a different Cycle of Le Guin's expansive work:
• Module 1 explores A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan,
• Module 2 explores The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, and
• Module 3 explores The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
NOTE: Students can jump in at any month/part of the Series.

Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Le Guin's Earthsea Series: The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea Continuing Series

This present module is for Module 3 of the Earthsea Series, exploring_The Other Wind_ and Tales from Earthsea.

Ursula K. Le Guin explores themes of power, love, nature, gender, art, politics, and more through her richly-developed world of Earthsea, drawing upon literary, philosophical, religious, and anthropological interests in doing so. We will walk on the islands of Earthsea and dive into its waters as we discover beloved, and maybe hidden or controversial, aspects of Le Guin’s masterpiece.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
The Earthsea Series consists of 3 modules exploring a different Cycle of Le Guin's expansive work:
• Module 1 explores A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan,
• Module 2 explores The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, and
• Module 3 explores The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
NOTE: Students can jump in at any month/part of the Series.

Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Meeting the Horned God of the Witches

The Horned God, alongside being modern paganism's most popular deity, enjoys a rich heritage in speculative fiction and popular culture. In this module, we will explore his ancient (and modern) origins, his appearances in both esoteric and popular literature, and his surprising role as an environmental figure. Throughout the module, students will gain familiarity with the four core figures that make up the Horned God (Pan, Cernunnos, the Sorcerer of Trois Freres, and Herne the Hunter), and key narratives associated with him. They will also have an opportunity to ponder the complex web of influences between modern paganism and speculative fiction.

This module builds on the work of Margaret Murray and the module 'The Witch-Cult Hypothesis', but does not require prior knowledge of the material covered there.
Precepted by Dr. Anna Milon

Narnia Book Club: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy, relaxed Book Club as we read and discuss the magic of C.S. Lewis's Prince Caspian . In this Book Club style module, each participant comes to our Club meetings with their own reflections and discussion questions about the text. YOU guide the magic!

Narnia Book Club: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Join Ms. Elise for a cozy and relaxed Book Club as we read and discuss the magic of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Nordic Madness: Exploring Children's Literature in Three Nordic Authors

In this module we will join the madness, adventure and melancholy of three famous Nordic authors: Hans Christian Andersen, Astrid Lindgren, and Tove Jansson. From the tragic unrequited love of a snowman to the crazy adventures of Pippi Longstocking and the Moomins, this module is a rollercoaster of emotions and beautiful imagery. You will need two books: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Russian Fairy Tales: Journeys, Quests, and Chicken Legs

In this module we will explore some of the most important Russian fairy tales, their archetypal characters, and beautiful imagery. We will travel to magical lands and meet incredible characters, even a talking pancake!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

She Watered It With her Tears: Grief, Mourning, and Death in Tolkien's Legendarium

Among the many themes Tolkien contemplates through his legendarium, that of grief and mourning is prominent. In this class, we will unfold the implications of expressions of grief and mourning in his work. For example, why do lamentations matter, and how might they offer healing? Why does Nienna weep? Are there cases of “inappropriate” grief? What roles do grief and mourning play in the creation of wisdom and beauty? Does Elven grief have special characteristics? What about that of Dwarves and Humans? We will explore these topics and more.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Star Wars: Mysteries of the Force

In this module, we will discuss the aspects of the Force as depicted in Star Wars films, tv, and video games. We will look at specific characters and cults (Jedi v. Sith, the Bendu, Nightsisters, etc.) to understand where they fit in the wider mythology far far away, as well as other mystical motifs and ideas (Mortis, the World Between Worlds). There are tons of different topics to choose from, so there will be plenty to discuss in this course.
Precepted by Joshua Sosa

Tales of Korea: Core Traditional Tales

This module seeks to introduce students to some of the core stories at the heart of Korean society. The module will include an exploration of the foundation myth of Dan Gun, the Tale of Shim Cheong, two other P'ansori tales, an exploration of Hong Gil Dong (Korea's "Robin Hood"), and a few shorter folk tales.
Precepted by Sam Roche

The Body in Tolkien's Legendarium

This module will focus on bodies in Middle-earth from a multitude of directions and fields of enquiry. We will address fascinating subjects such as Sauron's body, the physical differences between Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White and the age old question "Do Balrogs have wings?" [No, the case is not settled on this.] We will explore how Tolkien writes about gendered and racialized bodies and how he uses slap-stick carnivalesque bodily humor in The Hobbit. We will explore the artwork and film images too. The point will be that bodies very much mattered in the narratives that make up Tolkien's Cauldron of Story, and they matter in his Legendarium!
Precepted by Dr. Chris Vaccaro

The Dark is Rising Sequence Series

Susan Cooper’s classic fantasy series takes us into a world where the forces of the Light battle against those of the Dark, but these are also coming-of-age stories in which children are at the forefront of the conflict. Deeply rooted in the folklore of the British landscape, the narratives are often set in spaces encoded in ancient wisdom and traditions and employ, as Tolkien did in his legendarium, songs and verse that pass on those traditions.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

The Dark is Rising Sequence 1: Over Sea, Under Stone First in the Series

Susan Cooper’s classic fantasy series takes us into a world where the forces of the Light battle against those of the Dark, but these are also coming-of-age stories in which children are at the forefront of the conflict. Deeply rooted in the folklore of the British landscape, the narratives are often set in spaces encoded in ancient wisdom and traditions and employ, as Tolkien did in his legendarium, songs and verse that pass on those traditions.

In this book, the first of the series, Cooper introduces us to the folklore of Cornwall, interweaving ancient customs with a modern confrontation against forces of evil. In this class, we will explore all the themes and ideas in the story and consider what it still has to say to us in the 21st century.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

The Fantastic in East Asia

Come join us as we explore various aspects of the weird, the strange, the uncanny, the dreamlike, and the visionary in East Asian literature, religion, folktales, poetry, and popular media. Whether it is ecstatic visions in Daoist texts, shamanistic expressions in Chinese poetry, gumiho and ghosts in KDramas, or stories such as that of the Yuki Onna (Snow Woman) in Japanese folklore, we’ll explore them all (and perhaps more!) in this class.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

The Films of Hosoda Mamoru 細田守

Hosoda Mamoru is an anime director whose films are known for their exploration of family, virtual worlds, and the relationships between wildness and domesticity. In this module, we will watch several of Hosoda's films as per the proposed outline below and we will discuss their themes, history, and literary background.

Session 1: Biography, influences, contexts, and early works
Session 2: The Girl Who Leapt through Time
Session 3: Wolf Children
Session 4: Wolf Children, continued
Session 5: The Boy and the Beast
Session 6: Mirai
Session 7: Belle
Session 8: Belle continued

The Films of Shinkai Makoto 新海誠

Shinkai Makoto is an anime director whose films are known for the hyperrealistic beauty of their background art, but also for their star-crossed lovers and the way they play with time. Shinkai's films are often considered "sekai-kei"; that is, the world may be in crisis, but we see this crisis from the point of view of individual lives. In this module, we will watch several films, based on availability, as per the proposed outline below.

Session 1: Biography, influences, context, short films, and Voices of a Distant Star
Session 2: The Place Promised in Our Early Days
Session 3: 5 Centimeters per Second
Session 4 :Your Name
Session 5: Your Name, continued
Session 6: Weathering With You
Session 7: Weathering with You, continued
Session 8: Suzume

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

The Music of Middle Earth

In this module we will explore the musical storytelling of works related to the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. This discussion-based course is not targeted to musicians, and no prior musical knowledge or skill set is required. Rather, the course seeks to discuss how music can tell stories, and how music interacts with text, poetry, and adaptation. A familiarity with the work of Professor Tolkien is very helpful.

This course will study three types of musical adaptation: music inspired by Tolkien’s writing, work that has taken Tolkien’s poetry and put it to music, and music written for adaptations of Tolkien’s work. Each of these types of composition comes with their own unique storytelling approaches and outcomes.

Session 1: Johan de Meij, "Symphony No. 1: The Lord of the Rings"
Session 2: Martin Romberg, "Symphonic Poem, Telperion and Laurelin"
Session 3: Paul Corfield Godfrey: “The Tolkien Cycle”
Session 4: John Sangster, "The Hobbit Suite"
Session 5: The Tolkien Ensemble, "An Evening in Rivendell"
Session 6: Donald Swann: “The Road Goes Ever On, a Song Cycle”
Session 7: Howard Shore, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Session 8: Bear McCreary, "The Rings of Power, Season One"
Precepted by Jack Schabert

The Poetic Corpus of J.R.R. Tolkien: Tolkien's Collected Poems (The Years 1910-1967 in Three Volumes) Series of 5

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 these volumes that the intention is to spread the course over several 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
with guest lecturers James Tauber and Dr. Corey Olsen

The Realm of Arnor

This module will be about the history and lore of the realm of Arnor. It will cover its geography, kings, civil war, wars with Angmar, and important artifact sites.
Precepted by Knewbetta

'The Rings of Power' Discussion Group

The wait is over and the second season of Amazon's Tolkien-inspired series is upon us! Already, this series has stimulated much heated discussion across various social media, with the images and trailers dividing opinion among Tolkien fans. In this discussion group, we will watch the show and discuss what we have seen, linking it to what we already know about Tolkien’s creation, and exploring the ways in which ‘The Rings of Power’ is extending the world of Middle-earth.

Access to copies of The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is desirable. Prior knowledge of the texts is also desirable, but you could manage without. Knowledge of The History of Middle-earth series and The Unfinished Tales is a bonus!

The Second Age of Middle-earth

The Second Age of Middle-earth saw the rise and fall of Númenor, the rise and (apparent) fall of Sauron, and the creation of the Rings of Power. This course will look at the events of the Second Age with readings from LOTR (especially Appendix A and B), Unfinished Tales, and The Silmarillion. It will be of particular interest to people who want to know more about the Second Age to be ready for the Amazon Prime series LOTR: The Rings of Power starting in September 2022.
Precepted by James Tauber

The Witch in Fact and Fiction

The witch contains a multitude of meanings, from victim to agent of political resistance to a paragon of magical power. While the witch is overtly present in modern media, her origins are often obscured. Is the witch always female? Where does her magic come from? And who devised the eight annual pagan festivals? This module uses Steve Hutton's Raven's Wand fantasy novel (and Book 1 of his Dark Raven Chronicles series) as a starting point to discuss how witches are depicted in fiction and history, and what witches themselves have to say about that.

The Dark Raven Chronicles offer an engaging overview of the main trends for depicting witches in speculative fiction. On our journey through the book, we will discuss what historical details and popular assumptions the author draws on, and how they compare to the lives of people accused of witchcraft in the past, and those who identify as witches today.
Precepted by Dr. Anna Milon

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 Dr. Chris Vaccaro

Tolkien And Alchemy

Transformation and the process of transformation, either physical or of the self, is a significant theme in Tolkien’s writing and appears throughout the Middle-earth legendarium. In this SPACE course, we will explore how the practice, philosophy and symbolism of alchemy resonate in the texts and provide another way to read the changes that are apparent throughout. Amongst other topics, we will look at the Music of the Ainur and Tolkien’s creation myth, the recurring symbolism of the alchemical colours: Black, White and Red, the metaphor of Gold, the nature of the One Ring, and Frodo as alchemical subject.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Tolkien and the Classical World

Based on the preceptor's edited volume, Tolkien and the Classical World, this module takes students on a tour of the classical influences and ideas on the life, writings, and thought of English fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, while also introducing seminal Greco-Roman texts to those without any classical background.

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 will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: Visions of Nature
• Workshop 1: What do your Elf-eyes see?
• Lecture 2: All things Sublime and Beautiful
• Workshop 2: Sublime, Beautiful, or both at once?!
• Lecture 3: I want to see mountains!
• Workshop 3: One with our environment
• Lecture 4: Ecology without Humanity
• Workshop 4: What is actually out there beyond the Human sphere?

Note: The hybrid 8-lesson structure above is the new format for this module moving forward.
Precepted by Will Sherwood

Tolkien and the Sea

From the subcreation of Ulmo to travels from Cornwall to Avallonë, the Sea has played a special role in Tolkien’s world. This module looks at key instances of the Sea’s appearance in his writing corpus so that fellow readers can more fully appreciate the haunting beauty of water’s meaning and Tolkien’s imaginative ability. We will be reading excerpts from Tolkien’s legendarium, poetry, and creative historical works.
Precepted by Jennifer Rogers

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 Unfinished Tales

The Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth is a collection of stories and essays by J.R.R. Tolkien which are filled with all the wonderful elements of story-telling that are to be found in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and yet, for some reason, they are less well-known and less studied. Some, like ‘Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife’, offer a compelling insight into the Second Age and the time of Númenor. Others, such as ‘The History of Galadriel and Celeborn’, ‘The Quest of Erebor’, or ‘The Hunt for the Ring’, shed further light on the events of the Third Age that are so familiar to readers of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. We will discuss some of these stories and place them in the context of the other Middle-earth works.

Access to a copy of The Unfinished Tales is essential. Prior knowledge of the stories within is desirable, but you could read them as we go along.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Tolkien, the Anglo-Saxon Minstrel

Explore Tolkien’s Anglo-Saxon poetic inspiration. We will enjoy an introduction to a few Anglo-Saxon poems and then compare Tolkien’s adaptations to their Anglo-Saxon counterparts. Discussions of poetic style and technique will be with us along the way! Texts discussed include Beowulf, The Fall of Arthur, and other poems.
Precepted by Jennifer Rogers

To Repair Arda: Tolkien's Dwarves through Jewish Mysticism

J.R.R. Tolkien explicitly and publicly associated his subcreated race of the Dwarves with the Jewish people. This raises all sorts of interesting questions and problems, not least of which is why does he do this, and what within Jewish culture is he referring to? Usually scholars point to Dwarven language and Dwarven history for this association, but in this class we will explore the possibility that at the deepest level Tolkien is also drawing upon aspects of Jewish mysticism to support his claim.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Utopias and Dystopias in The Fellowship of the Ring

Based on Hamish's recently published book Tolkien's Utopianism and the Classics, this new module takes us on a tour of utopian and dystopian places in The Fellowship of the Ring, journeying through the pastoral bliss of the Shire, the sublime encounter in Woody End, the perilous Old Forest, the abandoned ruins at Weathertop, Elrond's paradise in Rivendell, the abandoned wilderness in Hollin, the undergound realm of Moria, and the timeless utopia of Lothlorien. In every class, our approach will be to read together important passages and discuss the representations of different spaces and societies in Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring.

Vampires, Werewolves and Wights – Oh My! Uncanny Creatures in Middle-earth

There are dragons in Tolkien’s works, of course, as well as Ents, Trolls, and Orcs, all enabling Tolkien to give shape and dimension to his world of Middle-earth. Less discussed amongst readers of the legendarium are the weird creatures that sit in the shadows – the ones designed to really make the back of your neck prickle. In this course, we will discuss these more troubling inhabitants of Middle-earth, with some close reading of the texts to guide our way.

Access to copies of The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is essential. Prior knowledge of the texts is desirable, but you could read them as we go along.
Precepted by Dr. Sara Brown

Wayward Children Novella Series Series of 3

Boarding schools have become a staple in fantasy, but Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children specializes in children that have stumbled into and then out of portals and haven't quite managed to adjust to being back from their adventures. There are three rules at Eleanor West's: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 1 First in the Series

Boarding schools have become a staple in fantasy, but Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children specializes in children that have stumbled into and then out of portals and haven't quite managed to adjust to being back from their adventures. There are three rules at Eleanor West's: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests.

Explore the first three novellas (Every Heart a Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and Beneath the Sugar Sky) of the Hugo and Nebula-winning Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. Join in for a discussion on portal fantasies, children's adventures, and what it can mean to believe in a world you may never see again.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 2 Continuing Series

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children has three rules: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests. Pity that most worlds give no care for rules not their own.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 3 Continuing Series

Boarding schools have become a staple in fantasy, but Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children specializes in children that have stumbled into and then out of portals and haven't quite managed to adjust to being back from their adventures. There are three rules at Eleanor West's: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

When Tolkien Wrote Time-Travel

Tolkien’s essay into the time-travel genre is little known and even less likely read. However, his "Lost Road" and "Notion Club Papers" showcase his grappling with concepts at the heart of his legendarium. This module highlights those works, taking readers through a genre study, philological walkthrough, and conceptual discussion of the fragments. Buckle in for a Tolkien-guided adventure through Earth’s history back to the time of the Elves.
Precepted by Jennifer Rogers

Yōkai and Legends: Exploring the Weird in Japanese and Latin American Cultures

Ghost stories are an important element from all cultures, but in weird and, of course, mysterious ways, there seem to be similar legends and stories of Yōkai in Japanese and Latin American Cultures. From the similarities of Obon with Día de los Muertos to different legends such as Kuchisake onna and La Llorona, we will discuss these legends within their cultural context and have fun with these weird and fantastic beings.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].