Courses

Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth

This course explores the life of J.R.R. Tolkien and the impact his experiences had on his work, with a particular focus on the World War I and World War II time periods. In addition to studying Tolkien as a wartime writer, students will learn how these experiences relate to some of his other passions in myth and fairy-tale, the medieval, and the invention of languages.

The Force of Star Wars: Examining the Epic

This course explores the creation of the Star Wars canon, its history as a cultural phenomenon and its staying power as a story. Students will examine its genre inspirations, historical parallels, political implications, mythological echoes, and evolving multimedia forms to unpack the traditions and ideas that inspired the story – and continue to inspire it.

Tolkien’s Poetry

How did Tolkien’s poetry change over time? How did Tolkien’s views of fairies change (or not) over time? From his undergraduate days through the final phase of his literary career, Tolkien was a prolific poet. No matter what he was doing or how overwhelmed with other work he was, he continued to produce poems. Indeed, […]

Literary Copernicus: The Cosmic Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft

This course explores the work of H.P. Lovecraft and his impact on literature and popular culture. Students will study the foundations of Lovecraft’s writing, the meaning behind his works, along with his cosmic vision and legacy.

Beowulf Through Tolkien

How did Tolkien view Beowulf? How did Beowulf influence Tolkien? Tolkien’s involvement with Beowulf was lifelong. His 1936 lecture to the British Academy on “the Monsters and the Critics” has been said to be the most-cited academic paper of all time, in the humanities. But he also lectured to undergraduates until he retired in 1957 – and then […]

Science Fiction, Part II

What does it mean to be human? Are we alone? What wonders or terrors will tomorrow hold? Join award-winning scholar Dr. Amy H. Sturgis as she explores the ways in which the literature of science fiction over time has asked the question: “What if?” This course will consider the development of the genre from the […]

Science Fiction, Part I

What are the origins of Science Fiction as literature? Why is Science Fiction important? How did it evolve over time? What does it mean to be human? Are we alone? What wonders or terrors will tomorrow hold? Join award-winning scholar Dr. Amy H. Sturgis as she explores the ways in which the literature of science […]

Roots of the Mountain

Who were the fantasy authors of the 19th & early 20th century? How did they influence Tolkien? When J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) were published, they were hailed as something entirely new. In one sense they were new, in their combination of methodologies and ingredients, but Tolkien had built his modern-styled novels […]

The Lord of the Rings: Culture & Audience

How did his own culture affect Tolkien? How have different audiences around the world received Tolkien’s works? This course will focus on a close reading of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings from two closely related approaches: cultural studies and audience reception. Knowledge of either approach is not necessary for taking the course. The […]

Chaucer II: The Canterbury Tales

What is up with the frame narrative of Canterbury Tales? Why should we care about the Canterbury Tales today? In this class we will study of the great classics of English literature: Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.  In the Tales, we see Chaucer at the height of his poetic abilities, mixing sensitive characterization and stunning complexity of storytelling with his […]

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